103-year-old Elfreda Anderson’s travelling days are done, for now. She saved brochures and photos from each place she went and glued it into a Mead notebook. (Grace Kennedy photo)

103-year-old Elfreda Anderson’s travelling days are done, for now. She saved brochures and photos from each place she went and glued it into a Mead notebook. (Grace Kennedy photo)

Life advice from Cloverdale’s Elfreda Anderson, a 103-year-old world traveller

‘You name it, I’ve been there’ : Elfreda on life, love and always having a suitcase on hand

Cheery, pink-clad and petite, Elfreda Anderson doesn’t look a day over 90.

She is though. Nearly 4,745 days over 90.

In February 2018, Anderson will be 104 years old. Sitting in her scrupulously clean Cloverdale home — pristine except for the black lines running parallel to the ground where her walker rubs against the walls and doors — Anderson retells the story of her birth.

It was 1914. The First World War was several months away, and New Brunswick was in the middle of a snowstorm. No doctor could get to the spacious house on the edge of the Bay of Fundy, where a woman was having her third baby: a little girl named Elfreda.

“My dad had to take over,” Anderson said about the night. Her father was “doing pretty good” delivering the baby, until he saw he was having his first girl.

“My mother said he got so excited it was so he couldn’t do nothing. And she was shouting at him.” Anderson laughed.

“‘Come on, come on. Do this. Do that’,” she said. “Anyway. I survived.”

“It was three or four days later the doctor got there and examined my mother and me. And he gave my dad a pat on the back and said, ‘Well sir you did a good job.’”

It was the start of a long and adventurous life, spanning two World Wars, the Great Depression, the launch of the space race, the creation of Nunavut and the introduction of internet.

Ask Anderson about her life, though, and you’ll hear about slightly different things. Washing dishes while standing on a chair, because she was too young to reach the counter. Her father buying their first car in 1924, and taking trips to the beach. Her mother falling ill when she was 14, and having to alternate between taking care of the family and going to school.

In her mid-twenties, Anderson went out to Saskatchewan with a friend to visit her aunt and uncle. She didn’t come home from that trip, as she had fallen in love with a local “prairie guy” and married him.

Two kids and six years later, Anderson and her husband moved to White Rock. Soon a family of five, they enjoyed a relatively quiet life in Burnaby and Surrey, going to the Rickshaw Restaurant on Friday nights for Chinese food.

At 61, her husband passed away. Not long after, Anderson retired. And then she decided to travel.

It started with a trip back to her childhood provinces on the East Coast when she was 66. At 68, she joined her eldest daughter Donna Phillips and Donna’s husband Lyle on a trip to Australia and New Zealand.

“I enjoyed so much of it,” Anderson said of the trip. “And then I couldn’t stop travelling and I had to keep going.”

Australia. New Zealand. Newfoundland. Oregon. Hawaii. Germany. Scotland. Austria. Denmark. Stockholm. Hong Kong. Singapore. Disneyland. The “Land of the Midnight Sun.”

“You name it, I’ve been there,” she said.

Her most profound trip was to “the Holy Land” she said. She went with her church’s minister and other church members when she was 69.

“They served what they called St. Peter’s fish,” she said about one of the places she ate on her trip. The fish was cleaned on the inside, but its head and tail remained on the plate. Anderson and the man beside her both ordered it.

“So I’m looking at it. I said, ‘Can you eat that fish?’” Anderson said. “He says, ‘Probably.’

“And I said, ‘Well I don’t think I can … Mine just winked at me.’” Anderson slapped her knee, then laughed.

“And so he looked at his again. He said, ‘My golly, I think you’re right.’”

Anderson travelled for 20 years, visiting the East Coast once again when she was 98.

“That was my last long trip,” she said.

She’s travelled around B.C. and Alberta into her hundreds, but in the last two years, she hasn’t gone far.

But “I still got my suitcase,” she said. “I wore two out, and I got the third one.”

Now, living in her Cloverdale apartment, life is a little more simple.

Her daughter Donna gets her groceries. Donna’s husband Lyle comes and washes the floors. Anderson cleans the rest of the house, and knits dozens of pairs of slippers.

It might be relaxed and simple now. But, as Anderson said, “it’s kind of a full life isn’t it?”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Cloverdale

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

Music therapist Felicia Wall in the music room at Phoenix Society in Surrey. (submitted photo)
Eclectic album showcases songs recorded by Surrey residents in recovery

Project at Phoenix Society took about six months to complete, with help of music therapist

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Sources team members (left to right) Carrie Belanger, Abby Gemino, Tatiana Belyaeva, Yasmin de Joya-Pagal cheer during the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year event. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sources photo)
White Rock’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Annual walk raises funds for variety of Sources programs and services

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read