Manitoba woman lives through two global pandemics to celebrate her 111th birthday
Manitoba’s oldest living person has survived two global pandemics to celebrate their 111th birthday on Monday.
Born on January 10, 1911, Jemima Westcott, more commonly known as Mime, was joined virtually by her family for the milestone from the care home in Brandon where she is living.
“She’s amazing, she’s doing really well for 111,” said Raunora Westcott, Mime’s granddaughter. “One thing we’re really lucky to have is such a sharp memory from her. She really can tell some great stories from every decade of the past century.”
Mime hails from a small Manitoba farming community called Lauder. As one of 11 siblings, she grew up doing chores on a farm before becoming a teacher, getting married, and settling in Douglas, a community just east of Brandon.
“I don’t ever remember her sitting down, like she was always up and moving around,” said Raunora.
And there perhaps lies the key to her longevity.
Raunora said Mime and her siblings were studied by university academics to discover the root of their extended lifespans. With Mime being the only living sibling, the conclusion was that she had won the genetic jackpot.
It’s a sentiment shared by Raunora, but she also believes a lot of it has to do with the lifestyle she led. Hard work, whole-food meals, and no smoking. She was also widowed early, and has been single since her early fifties.
“I don’t know, maybe that has something to do with it. No one nagging you all the time,” said Raunora with a laugh.
When it comes to pandemics, Mime is in a unique position as she has lived through two that have killed millions of people worldwide.
It is a topic she has spoken to often and the similarities are oddly familiar. Social distancing and masking were both in effect about a century apart.
Raunora said her grandmother’s care home is one of the very few, if any, in the province that has not been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus. She credits the facility’s procedures and the diligence of staff in keeping the residents safe.
Back when the 1918 Influenza Pandemic was running rampant across the continent, it was Mime’s mother who tried to keep her children safe.
It is estimated one-third of the world’s population at the time became infected with the H1N1 virus, and at least 50 million died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Raunora said Mime’s childhood community was mostly spared, with the exception of a couple of houses.
Mime’s mother instructed her children to cover their faces with handkerchiefs as they passed by the homes suspected to house infected people.
“Their mother poured eucalyptus oil on some cloths and had them hold them to their noses as they walked in the vicinity of that area,” said Raunora.
The pandemic has been challenging for many families and Raunora’s is no exception. The last time she saw her grandmother in person was in early December for a holiday gathering.
Despite celebrating Mime’s 111th birthday hundreds of kilometres apart, Raunora may be taking a page out of her grandmother’s playbook.
“Her advice to people would be to be content with what you have and to hold your relationships, your family and friends, those relationships closely and really care for others around you,” said Raunora.
-With files from the Canadian Press
Winnipeg Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Woman with disabilities approved for medically assisted death relocated thanks to 'inspiring' support
A 31-year-old disabled Toronto woman who was conditionally approved for a medically assisted death after a fruitless bid for safe housing says her life has been 'changed' by an outpouring of support after telling her story.
The police official blamed for not sending officers in more quickly to stop the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting is the chief of the school system's small police force, a unit dedicated ordinarily to building relationships with students and responding to the occasional fight.
Russia asserted Saturday that its troops and separatist fighters had captured a key railway junction in eastern Ukraine, the second small city to fall to Moscow's forces this week as they fought to seize all of the country's contested Donbas region.
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos was met with justifiable criticisms and unfounded conspiracy theories.
Federal Conservative leadership candidate Patrick Brown says calling social conservatives 'dinosaurs' in a book he wrote about his time in Ontario politics was 'the wrong terminology.'
Speakers at the National Rifle Association annual meeting assailed a Chicago gun ban that doesn't exist, ignored security upgrades at the Texas school where children were slaughtered and roundly distorted national gun and crime statistics as they pushed back against any tightening of gun laws.
An 11-year-old survivor of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Uvalde, Texas, feared the gunman would come back for her so she smeared herself in her friend's blood and played dead.
A seven-person civil jury in Virginia will resume deliberations Tuesday in Johnny Depp's libel trial against Amber Heard. What the jury considers will be very different from the public debate that has engulfed the high-profile proceedings.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says the federal government is working with groups on the ground to resolve air travel 'bottlenecks' in time for a busy summer.
Cyber security attacks happen every day, and as Regina Public Schools division discovered this week, no one is safe.
'Very upset': Senior housing residents plead for Sask. Housing Corporation to rebuild after winter fire
Former residents of a Carievale seniors housing complex want the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC) to reconsider its decision to demolish the home.
Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.
Barrett Ross says his dog Indy suffered a punctured bowel, lost a tooth and had his stomach injured when he was attacked by three other dogs.
The Saskatoon Tribal Council's (STC) temporary downtown shelter has been granted an extension to operate at its present location until April 2023 — but Tribal Chief Mark Arcand hopes to relocate well before then.
A pedestrian injured by a vehicle in Prince Albert has died.
It's the final campaign weekend on the campaign trail for Ontario's political party leaders.
Thursday evening, the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce hosted the 25th annual Bell Business Excellence Awards.
On Friday, there was a walk in Sudbury to remember the remains of 215 residential schoolchildren found in Kamloops, B.C., a year ago May 27.
A hotly-controversial decision on whether or not to freeze base funding for police in Edmonton was delayed Friday as fallout from a dispute between the mayor and the provincial justice minister continued to rattle political circles.
A 19-year-old man is in police custody after a shooting near Rogers Place after an Edmonton Oilers viewing party ended Thursday evening.
A shelter many expected to remain open until the end of June in Wetaskiwin, Alta., will close a month early.
WATCH | New video appears to show man carrying air rifle on Toronto streets before being killed by police
A man shot dead by police officers near a Toronto elementary school on Thursday afternoon appears to have been captured on home security footage carrying an air rifle moments before the incident.
Toronto Pearson International is warning travellers and Mississauga residents they may notice unusual activity at the airport this weekend.
Heading out this weekend? Well, there are several road and subway closures in Toronto to keep in mind.
A southern Alberta man who killed three people, including a two-year-old girl, could have the ability to request a release from jail earlier than his original sentence intended, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court decision Friday.
Calgary Flames fans are still coming to terms with a playoff series loss to the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night in a game that saw both controversy and heartbreak following a Connor McDavid overtime goal.
Western Canada's premiers want to reform their health-care systems by expanding services but they say Ottawa first needs to pick up the phone.
Is it unconstitutional to make someone pay to get a legal document translated into French? One of Montreal's top lawyers thinks so, and pointed out two other things from Bill 96 that he thinks the courts would most easily find fault with.
A man in his 80s is fighting for his life after being pulled out of the St. Lawrence River by a fellow resident who saw his vehicle had become submerged.
A large ship carrying chemical products ran aground during its passage through the St. Lawrence Seaway early Friday morning, backing up maritime traffic as tugboats tried to dislodge it.
Hydro Ottawa is not committing to a new deadline to restore power to thousands of customers, one week after a devastating storm with wind gusts of 190 km/h hit Ottawa.
A Hydro One spokesperson says some people living in remote parts of rural eastern Ontario could be waiting weeks to have power restored after last Saturday’s devastating and deadly storm.
It's the first in-person Ottawa Race Weekend in Ottawa since 2019, after the 2020 and 2021 events were shifted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Cape Breton father is warning the public of the dangers in the area he lives after his teenager son fell nearly 40 feet over a cliff in Glace Bay.
A lawyer for families of victims killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting says an 18-hour delay in finding five bodies of those murdered is a sign of "deficient" policing.
The lawyer who represented a man who murdered three RCMP officers nearly eight years ago in Moncton, N.B., said a decision made by the Supreme Court of Canada Friday may potentially change his sentence.
A man, who was a referee at high school volleyball games in Guelph for more than 30 years, is facing sex assault-related charges.
The Region of Waterloo says there's a high safety risk at a Kitchener encampment and they are working with residents to prepare them for their eventual move.
Two low-cost airlines are butting heads over an agreement at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. Swoop wants to offer flights but the airport already has an exclusivity deal with rival Flair Airlines
The B.C. government says a Surrey-to-Langley SkyTrain line and electrified bus fleets are among the projects that will benefit from a $2.4-billion investment in Metro Vancouver transit.
A B.C. mom with a rare, debilitating illness has spent years trying to get the help she needs. Now she's considering medical assistance in dying.
The number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals hit its lowest point in more than a month this week, and the decline was driven largely by regions outside the Lower Mainland.
B.C. speedboat driver arrested with 650kg of meth 'feared for his family's safety,' he told U.S. investigators
New details are emerging after a 51-year-old Alberta man was arrested aboard a speedboat that U.S. authorities say was carrying 650 kilograms of methamphetamine between Washington state and British Columbia.
The emergency department at Port McNeill Hospital unexpectedly shut down on Friday evening due to a staffing shortage.
At least one building was destroyed Friday afternoon as firefighters rushed to a large fire at the vacant Pioneer Square Mall in Mill Bay, B.C.