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

Ocean Park neighbour aiming to track down answers to headstone ‘mystery’

South Surrey work crews discover memorial on site of under-development property near Kwomais Point

Cloverdale automobile shop offers to pick up, service, and drop off vehicles

Surrey’s Visscher-Pau Automotive starts ‘Blue Glove’ valet service — will cover Cloverdale, Langley, Newton, Fleetwood, and Hazelmere

White Rock brewery turns up the (alcohol by) volume in COVID-19 fight

3 Dogs Brewing is making hand sanitizer for frontline workers, general public

Surrey RCMP looking for ‘distraction theft’ suspect

Suspect allegedly tried to swipe a man’s necklace while giving him a hug

1,000 food hampers packed for delivery to students of Surrey’s inner-city schools

City Dream Centre-led initiative involved volunteer effort at Horizon Church in Newton

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Fraser Valley auto sound business starts producing face shields

Certified Auto Sound & Security is doing what it can to help frontline healthcare workers.

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Most Read