Centenarian in Powell River says casting a ballot is an honour

100 years young and still voting

This past provincial election a ballot was cast by Kathleen (Hilda) Williamson, something she has been doing every year she’s been able to since turning 18. On November 8, Hilda celebrated her 100th birthday.

“When the COVID virus started breaking out around the province in seniors homes we convinced her to immediately come live with us,” said her son Eric Williamson. “Up until that time Hilda was independently living in a seniors complex in Armstrong.”

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Hilda was born in Okotoks, Alberta, in 1920 and moved to BC in 1938 when she was 18. She married her high school sweetheart, Eric Sr., in 1941 and spent 82 years in Armstrong. Hilda and her late husband owned and operated a dairy farm in Spallumcheen, BC. The family farm still exists today.

Hilda and Eric Sr. had six children and the family has now grown to 15 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Hilda said she believes it’s an honour to still be voting at 100 years of age when lots of people younger than her are unable to vote because of various conditions.

“You can’t force young people to vote but I hope they will take an interest to find things out and vote to make the country better as that’s the only way it can happen,” said Hilda.

A lot of changes have happened over the last 100 years in Hilda’s lifetime. She has lived through the Spanish Flu, The Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean War, people landing on the moon and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I feel social distancing is an excellent thing to do if that is what it takes to help control the virus, along with washing your hands and wearing a face mask in respect for others,” said Hilda.

She said she remembers sitting around the radio listening to world news which was already days or weeks old. She joked that the projected weather report they used to look up in the Farmers’ Almanac is probably still more accurate than today’s up-to-the-minute live news and weather on TV.

Hilda was a 4-H Beef Club leader for 15 years and helped her church serve thousands of hot meals at the Interior Provincial Exhibition for 60 years. The agricultural fair has been held in Armstrong for the past 120 years with attendance around 15,000 people over five days.

“The farmhouse door was always open to anyone for a hot meal, tea or coffee and in a number of cases young teenagers who had home problems would show up and ask if they could stay,” said Eric. “Sometimes it would be a few weeks and for some it was a few years. No questions were ever asked nor were they told when to leave; all were treated like family.”

Hilda is still mobile with her walker and enjoys her half-kilometre walk every day.

“Her biggest enjoyment is her family and I think that’s what she’s always lived for,” said Eric. “She prefers a home-cooked meal to a restaurant meal, loves going for a drive and is always amazed how tall the trees are on the coast compared to the Okanagan.”

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