The average life expectancy in Canada is just under 82 years old, but Ellen “Dolly” Gibb is not your average person. Officially the country’s oldest person, Gibb is celebrating her 112th birthday on Wednesday and the woman is living proof that age is just a number.
“It’s very exciting,” Gibb’s daughter Sue Crozier told Yahoo Canada News.
According to a news release prepared by family living in North Bay, Ont., Ellen Box was born in Winnipeg on April 26, 1905. She’s been Canada’s oldest person since early 2016 and ranks No. 42 on the global Gerontology Research Group’s supercenterian rankings list. A Jamaican woman named Violet Brown, who was born on March 10, 1900, is currently the oldest living person in the world on record.
Gibb’s mother, Virginia Beauvette, died when the Winnipegger was only five years old. Her father, John Box, worked during the Klondike gold rush. The couple had a total of six children and most lived into their 90s.
She had a job at Eaton’s in Winnipeg, but left the company after marrying Dave Gibb in 1928.
Gibb had two daughters and the young family eventually moved to what is now Thunder Bay, Ont., in 1941, in the midst of the Second World War. Her husband died in 1968 and Gibb was left with a 425-square-foot home in northern Ontario, where she resided until she turned 100. After hitting the century mark, the casino and bingo lover moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in North Bay, where she currently resides.
So what’s the secret to Gibb’s long life? Her family says it’s a combination of genetics, eating well in moderation and walking a lot. The talented cook also enjoys her full-fat cream and butter. She never drank or smoked until her 70s when she began to dabble with scotch. Gibb usually has some wine or beer with dinner these days, and chuckles after calling her boyfriend “Bud,” which is short for the brew “Budweiser.”
But if you ask Gibb about her lengthy journey to reaching 112, she simply shrugs.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I can’t help it … I will have to take what God gives me.”
The family says they’ve received congratulatory messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Governor General David Johnston and many others. She’ll probably also hear from her nine grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren on this milestone day.
Crozier says her mother, who is “very private,” has been asked to do television interviews but has declined due to the stress involved. Usually Gibb likes to spend her evenings watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy on TV as she is currently confined to a wheelchair.
When asked how the family intends to celebrate, Crozier revealed they’ll be taking it easy.
“We’re just doing something very quiet,” Crozier said.