I recently received an invitation from a person I did not know to a 100th birthday party for a person I did not know.
Long time community resident Doris Siddle turned 100 years old on Feb. 24 and her granddaughter, Erin Walsh, who lives in Waterloo, Ont., invited me to her grandmother’s birthday party.
With voice recorder and camera in hand I arrived at 81 University Cres. very much looking forward to meeting this centenarian.
Dressed in a hot pink shiny blazer, Doris greeted guests with a beautiful smile and a firm handshake.
Erin told me Doris was born to Aaron and Mary Elizabeth Heaton, on Feb. 24, 1914, in Wigan, in northern England. Her father was killed in a coal mining accident in 1923. In 1930 Doris and her mother Mary left Liverpool aboard the Andania, bound for to Canada. They arrived in Halifax on Feb. 23, 1930, the day before Doris’ 16th birthday and were then off to Winnipeg on a train.
Once here, both Doris and her mother found work as domestic servants in different homes. Mary soon returned to the U.K., leaving Doris here alone without family or friends.
In 1931, while Doris worked for contractor Ernest Claydon in St. Vital, she met Jack. They were married on July 4, 1936 ,at All Saints Church.
In 1938 they moved to Fort Garry to live in a boxcar on the riverbank, where they ran a mink ranch. After the Second World War, they operated a canteen at the Wildewood Club on North Drive, seven days a week, earning about $100 a month.
In 1947, Jack and Doris built a home at 117 University Cres. (The apartment building Doris lives in today is actually in her former back yard.)
Doris began working in the University of Manitoba food services department,where she stayed until retiring in the 1970s.
Doris has three children (her eldest is now deceased), five grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.
She still lives on her own and has a wonderful network of family, friends and neighbours, like Mary who lives on the sixth floor and comes down every day and slides the paper under Doris’ door with a note attached.
Her great-granddaughter Claire (12 -and-a-half years old) says this about her great grandmother:
"She’s the nicest lady you’d ever meet."
Helen Lepp Friesen is a community correspondent for Fort Garry. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org