When Mary Barrows moved in 1946 from the city of Southampton, England to village of Birch Hills, Sask., her life changed dramatically.
She and her husband Gilbert lived in a home with one bedroom and a kitchen and without electricity. The radio was battery-powered. Cooking was on a wood-fueled stove, and washing was done by hand with a wash tub and a hand-powered wringer.
“It was a cold place to live,” she recalls of the community in northern Saskatchewan. “I shovelled a lot of snow there.”
She had met Gilbert during the Second World War, when he worked as an orderly, and she worked with the nurses at a hospital in England. After work, they would often go out dancing together.
They married, and she came to Canada as a war bride, one of nearly 46,000 British women who married Canadian soldiers during the war. The process to come to Canada took around one year.
One of the couple’s three children was born in England. The other two were born in Canada.
After several years in Birch Hills, the family moved to Calgary. There she worked at a sanatorium, a hotel and a hospital.
Later, they moved to Abbotsford, and after retiring, they moved to Summerland, around 30 years ago. For the past 15 years, she has been a resident in Angus Place, a seniors’ care facility in Summerland.
On Friday, Aug. 20, she is celebrating her 103rd birthday. Her memory and hearing are good, and while she uses a walker for assistance, she is still able to walk well.
Her secret to a long and healthy life?
“Well, I do have a sleep every afternoon,” she said.
Friends say her positive attitude, taking things as they happen, is another contributing factor to her continuing good health.
A birthday party in her honour was held at Angus Place on Aug. 13, where she was surrounded by friends.
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