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Eat what you like, and pray
There’s not much of a secret to living to see 100 — at least not according to Anne Wowk.
On Dec. 9, the resident of Holy Family Nursing Home at 165 Aberdeen Ave. will join the ranks of Canada’s centenarians, celebrating her 100th birthday in the company of friends and family.
Wowk was born Dec. 9, 1912 in the RM of Rossburn to Ukrainian-born parents Dmytro and Anna Jarysz (Kuzyk), who married in Canada. She was the middle child of eight, although two of her siblings did not live past infancy.
Like many farmers of the era, Dmytro and Anna had a great deal of work to do on their mixed farming operation. Anne recalls being put to work at a young age, feeding the animals and even helping to light her father’s pipe.
"Cooking, everything," she says.
"Milking cows, making butter, farm work. All kinds of trades. Driving horses."
And that doesn’t include helping care for her younger siblings, and managing a three-mile walk to school each day. All the same, she says they were good days, defined by clear skies in free, open country.
"We were living nice, with good food," Wowk says.
"And everything (was) organic," adds her daughter, Sonia Rogowski.
Wowk spent much of her life in the Rossburn region, although she also lived in Shoal Lake and Oakburn. She moved to Transcona around 1952.
A love of cooking has been a constant in Wowk’s life. Her specialties include perogies and cabbage rolls, although she concedes she doesn’t do much cooking these days.
Over the years she owned and managed three restaurants in Oakburn, Clear Lake and Transcona. She also worked at Kelekis Restaurant, the Winnipeg Winter Club and St. Charles Country Club.
"When I was working, I was very happy," she says of her industriousness.
Wowk has two daughters, Sonia and Aviva, as well as six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
When approaching the century mark questions about one’s longevity are inevitable. Wowk says the answer is simple.
"I have no secret. I worked hard. I ate what I like to eat. Onions, lots of onions, green or otherwise," she says.
Wowk has also been propelled by faith, and says the church has been always been an important part of her life, ever since attending Olha Church, to which her family travelled by horse and buggy. She also volunteered at St. Nicholas Church for many years.
Sometimes, she says she even wakes up mid-prayer, not knowing when exactly she started.
"She prays a lot. That’s her secret," Sonia says.
As her mother’s 100th birthday approaches, Sonia expressed amazement at the feat.
"I think it’s amazing... Mom is a centenarian," she says.
"I don’t know any other 100 year old person to compare it to."
"I can’t get over it myself," Wowk quipped.
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