Cora Hansen, oldest known Canadian dies in Alberta at age 113

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

She was born when Queen Victoria was still on the throne, she was a teenager during the First World War and a senior citizen when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

Cora Hansen, considered Canada's oldest person, died Wednesday at the age of 113 in a Medicine Hat, Alta., nursing home, Postmedia News reported.

"When you consider the things that happened in the course of her life, quite literally, it went from horse and buggy to space travel," Hansen's grandson Jim MacArthur told the Calgary Herald.

Hansen was a prairie pioneer. Born in Minnesota, she came to Canada with her family in 1912.

Her journey included a two-day wagon ride with her mother and sister to reconnect with the men of the family who'd gone ahead to set up their homestead near Jenner, Alta., where she lived with her husband, Richard, until 1972.

Hansen became a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was widowed in 1975 but lived on her own until she was 97, MacArthur said. She moved into the Medicine hat care facility in 2007.

Hansen, who died with her 75-year-old daughter Eleanor MacArthur at her side, will be remembered for her strong religious faith and her kindness and generosity, her grandson said.

"Even when she was bed-ridden, she had that kind of thoughtfulness — she was always giving," he said. "The other thing I will remember about her is her ability to, quite literally, make something out of nothing. She was just so industrious and efficient."

Hansen celebrated her 113th birthday last month and received a visit from Alberta Premier Alison Redford, the Calgary Herald reported.

"I was worried it was going to be a sleepy day for Mom, but it wasn't," said Eleanor MacArthur, 75. "She was awake and smiling and we had a really nice time. It was quite an honour."

Hansen's daughter credited her longevity to a "good body and good genes." Her grandson also pointed to diet and exercise, including daily walks as long as she was able.

Hansen became the oldest living Canadian last December when Sum Ying Fung of Vancouver died at age 112. Born in Guangdong, China, in 1899, she married a man who had emigrated to Canada in 1911 but under restrictive Canadian immigration laws he was not allowed to bring his family here until 1954, CBC News reported.

According to Statistics Canada, there are more than 6,000 Canadians aged 100 or more.

(Handout photo from the Government of Alberta)