Delhi's Evelyn Barham has witnessed a century of historic events.
Barham was born in a log house in Saskatchewan before the start of the First World War.
“I can remember the first time I saw an airplane,” she recalled. It was shortly after the war ended. She had heard stories of how airplanes had dropped bombs onto towns and left a wake of destruction. “I remember I cried because I was so scared of the airplane.”
Barham celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 21 with her daughter and a small group of friends. Dozens of cards and bouquets of flowers lined the tables in the living room of her Delhi home. Letters from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Norfolk County Mayor Dennis Travale, MP Diane Finley and MPP Toby Barrett also rested on a table as she recalled details of the past 10 decades. She is able to recall dates and times accurately without a second of hesitation.
Barham remembers the Great Depression of the 1930's. She left Saskatchewan with a few friends and headed to Ontario during the tail end of the Depression in 1937.
“There was absolutely nothing for a human being in the west,” she recalled.
Shortly after arriving in Ontario she met her husband, John Percy. They married in 1939. The pair had a daughter and spent most of their life together working on the family farm.
When John passed away 54 years ago, Barham worked odd jobs, mostly in-home care.
Barham remembers working in a bakery in Aylmer the day President John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963 and another monumental event a few years later.
“Neil Armstrong – I remember him,” she quipped of the first man to walk on the moon.
Even at 100 years old Barham maintains her independence. She lives at home and gets around with only the assistance of a walker.
“I don't have too much trouble here,” she said.
She even does her own laundry, hanging it out to dry instead of putting it in a machine.
What is her secret to longevity?
“I think quiet, sensible living. I've never smoked. I've never used alcohol,” she said, although she insists she is not the right person to give anyone advice.
While she may not be able to offer the key to her health and prosperity, her friendly visitor from Haldimand-Norfolk Community Senior Support Services, Heather Rognvaldson, knows something that has definitely helped.
“She has a fantastic sense of humour,” she said.
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