Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

B.C. woman oldest living person born in Manitoba

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What a difference a day can make.

With the turn of a datebook page, Lorna Best, now of Victoria, B.C., but formerly of Gilbert Plains, Man., became the oldest living person born in this province.

Best became the oldest on Friday when she passed Mary Ann Scoles on the province's longevity list.

Today, Best is 110 years, 212 days old. Scoles died on July 23, 2007, at the age of 110 years and 210 days.

For Best, Friday was no different than most other days.

"It's nothing special," she said by phone from Victoria, shortly after her regular breakfast of a poached egg.

"It's just another day. It's not like when it's a birthday, and that's not until July."

Best was born on July 4, 1903, and lived the first 80 years of her life in Gilbert Plains. She moved to Victoria 30 years ago to be closer to family.

Besides her two children, she has six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.

Best still has a way to go before she becomes the oldest living Canadian.

Currently, Merle Barwis, who was born in the United States and lives in B.C., holds that honour at 113 years, 39 days.

Elizabeth Buhler, who died in Winkler a few days short of turning 112 in 2011, was never officially declared the oldest person to have ever lived in Manitoba. Her birth records were destroyed in Ukraine when Joseph Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union.

Best's son, Warren, said he knows his mother is low-key about the honour.

"She's not too excited about it, but I know deep down she is proud of it," he said.

"She's still really with it. She's a little slow and uses a walker to get around, but she'll still talk on the phone and she'll play cribbage."

Scoles' son, Ted, congratulated Best on Friday.

"It's amazing to live that long. My mother used to always tell us kids, 'I probably won't live long because my mother died when I was born.' But she, my grandmother, died of tuberculosis 11 days after my mother was born.

"My mother was a miracle twice."

Scoles said he has a way to go to wrest back the family record.

"I'm in my 70s, so I've got at least 30 years to go before then," he laughed.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2014 A17

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