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Bridgewater town crier retires after 40 years of service

Austin ‘Ozzie’ Stiles dons his town crier’s uniform for a final time, marking 40 years of service to the Town of Bridgewater.
Austin ‘Ozzie’ Stiles dons his town crier’s uniform for a final time, marking 40 years of service to the Town of Bridgewater. - Josh Healey

‘Hundreds of cries’

Austin ‘Ozzie’ Stiles didn’t give much thought to donning the uniform he’s worn proudly for 40 years one last time.

Stiles, who has served as Bridgewater’s town crier since 1979, recently retired from the position and was honoured at a council meeting on May 27.

And as always, it was hard to miss Stiles with his tricorne hat and bell.

“I’m just so used to putting it on,” he said. “I’ve done hundreds of cries.”

He’s also represented Bridgewater across the province and around the world, having participated in events from Bermuda to Belgium.

Stiles has lost count of the number of people he’s met and cries he’s given over the years. Some moments, like his cries for the opening of Bridgewater’s new hospital or Lunenburg’s 250th anniversary, are more memorable than others.

However, regardless if he was present for grand affairs or local charities, all of his cries end up in the same place for safe keeping.

“They’re in boxes,” he said with a laugh, explaining all the scrolls are stored in his basement.

“There’s so many different people involved with the cries, you could almost do a book!”

Since moving to Bridgewater in 1970, Stiles has always enjoyed being a part of the community and has taken his role as town crier seriously.

“The people that I represent is the Town of Bridgewater,” he said. “I like talking to people.”

And he’s chatted with quite a few people over the years, from locals to premiers to royals.

At various times, Stiles has volunteered as the president of the local chamber of commerce and also the golf and the curling clubs while juggling his other responsibilities.

“It was just routine,” he said, adding that he hopes to continue to help out in the community.

When asked his favourite part about being town crier, Stiles said he liked the ending to his cries because they have always been the same.

“Every cry has ‘God Save the Queen’ in it,” he said.

“God bless her, she’s been with me for almost 40 years and she’s still kicking.”

At the time of his retirement, Stiles was believed to be the second oldest town crier in North America.

joshua.rj.healey@gmail.com

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