By Lyonel Doherty
No one can ever guess Norman Hunter’s true age, and perhaps their attempts are what keeps him young at heart.
He looks 75, maybe 80. But he’s actually 101, which he gives away by wearing an apron that says, “Made in 1918. All original parts.”
Hunter was among many seniors who attended the annual 90-plus Tea at the senior centre on Wednesday.
Born on a farm in Saskatchewan, Hunter had no choice but to work hard.
When asked to retrieve a fond memory, he said “hard times.”
“It was hard to find work with pay (in those days),” he recalled.
Of course, the years went by like the four seasons, and Hunter became a “jack of all trades” and subsequently married.
Now he’s enjoying life in McKinney Place.
His secret to longevity?
“Trusting in the Lord,” he said emphatically. “I give him credit for taking me this far . . . and for my looks. I don’t look my age. Nobody has ever guessed my age or anywhere near it.”
Hunter said he never smoked or drank in his life, which may have something to do with outlasting a century.
Sitting next to him was 102-year-old Bill Fedoruk, who was born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan.
He led quite an adventurous life as a gold miner in the Yukon, Costa Rica, Panama and Barkerville.
“The one thing I learned when I was young was not to cheat because you’re just cheating yourself.”
Fedoruk told some gnarly tales about seeing a man die from electrocution and another by a fallen tree.
He’ll never forget the time when his crew was cutting hydro poles and his buddy perished in 90 feet of water in a lake.
“There was 200 feet of ice around the shore and I watched him go down. He said, ‘I don’t think I can make it.’ I said, ‘sure you’ll make it.’ Then I saw the bubbles come up.”
Fedoruk talked about his health, noting he had a heart problem since he was a child.
When people ask him how he has managed to live this long, he says jokingly, “Mind your own business.”
But really, “the secret is the good Lord,” he pointed out.
Over at another table, Fred and Dorothy Tomlin, both 98, thoroughly enjoyed their tea. By the way, they have been married 77 years.
When asked what her secret has been, she too praised God.
“Every breath I take and every heartbeat I take is from God.”
The Tomlins are currently evacuated from their home due to the flooding on Sportsmen’s Bowl Road. Dorothy said she has never seen the likes of it.
Sitting next to her was her sister, 95-year-old Laura Steele. If you asked her advice on how to reach a ripe old age, she would say, “Eat good food and be happy all the time.”
But Dorothy interjected by saying you can’t be happy all the time.
Was Steele happy all the time?
“Just about,” she said.
Next to her was 94-year-old Earl Burdett, whose secret to longevity is “drinking lots of milk from the cow.”