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Landmark birthday will be just another day

Local centenarian unfazed about turning 102

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Gertrude McKinnon has more reasons than most to remember the good old days.


The Windsor Park resident — who turns 102 on Jan. 25 — was born before the Titanic sank, the outbreak of the Second World War and the start of Charlie Chaplin’s film career.


Not that the widowed mother-of-two is fazed by the upcoming landmark occasion.


"It will be like every other day," said McKinnon, who received numerous messages of congratulations on her 100th birthday in 2011 from a few notable names, including the Queen, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston.  


Along with her husband, who died in 1982, McKinnon was the first resident of Windsor Park Place on Elizabeth Road when it opened in 1977. She sold her Buick Century at the ripe age of 86, but keeps mobile by going for walks on certain days.


"I don’t know the secret of her longevity, but she doesn’t drink or smoke," said McKinnon’s son Bill, 78, who along with younger brother Frank and numerous family members, friends, neighbours and home care workers, takes care of the centenarian.


"She’s pretty independent in here," added Bill, who lives in East Kildonan. "She still moves around with her walker, though she doesn’t want to walk every day. She’s also a very good baker and cook and still likes cooking."


Part of McKinnon’s secret to long life could be down to good old hard work.


The daughter of a cheese merchant, she immigrated to Canada with her parents, and several siblings, from the Netherlands in 1925. After first settling in Quebec City, the family eventually moved to Winnipeg and after getting married, McKinnon worked in gold mines in eastern Manitoba and western Ontario. The couple subsequently owned and operated five restaurants in Winnipeg, one after the other, including Mac’s Inn, which was located at 446 St. Anne’s Rd.


"That’s back when the streetcar used to run eight feet from the front door, so you had to watch when you came out of there," Bill said.


Neighbour Jeannine Bruce, who visits McKinnon every day, said her friend still has a healthy appetite.


"I bring her the newspaper every morning. Considering she’s 102, she’s in good health. She really counts on her sons," Bruce said, noting a friend called Shirley brings McKinnon tea or coffee, while a friend called Hilda drives her to her doctor’s appointments.


"She has a good appetite and likes oatmeal in the morning, an open-faced ham sandwich for lunch and she loves her sweets," Bruce added.

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

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