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Oldest woman alive in Canada has a Kamloops connection

Ellen “Dolly” Gibb will celebrate 112 birthday on April 26, 2017. In these photos she is seen at 18 years old (left) and at 111 years old (right).
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Terry Duggan Jr.
April 23, 2017 - 4:30 PM

KAMLOOPS – It turns out the oldest woman living in Canada has ties to Kamloops. Ellen “Dolly” Gibb is turning 112 this Wednesday, April 26, and some of her relatives in Kamloops will make the trek to North Bay, Ont. for the celebration.

She was born in Winnipeg in 1905 to Virginia Beauvette and John Box. Gibb has outlived her five siblings and has nine grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Gibb was recently confirmed as Canada’s oldest living person by the Gerontology Research Group, according to a media release from Gibb’s family. Looking globally, Gibb is the forty-second oldest person in the world right now, according to the research group.

Gibb now lives with her daughter Sue Croizer in North Bay, but used to travel to Kamloops at least once a year to visit her late sister Eleanor. Eleanor’s son Terry Duggan Jr. lives in Kamloops and is planning to fly out with his daughter next week for her birthday.

“There are lots of us in Kamloops,” Duggan says with a chuckle.

Gibb’s son-in-law Terry Duggan Sr., grandson Rick Duggan, granddaughter Maureen, grandson Terry Duggan Jr. all live in the Kamloops area and granddaughter Sue Nickel lives at Sun Peaks.

“She’s been here numerous times and she loves it here. It’s a little warmer than what she’s used to for sure.”

Gibb was in Kamloops celebrating with family when she turned 100 years old. Duggan has fond memories of riding the train in Ont. with his grandmother who the grandchildren affectionately call “Nan.”

Dressing well is how Gibb got her nickname, “Dolly,” and she always had an eye for style, Duggan says.

“She was always very fashionable. She never had a hair out of place, let me put it that way. Her wardrobe consisted of black and more black,” he says with a laugh.

Gibb was given her nickname in her late teens when she worked at an Eaton’s store in Winnipeg. She dreamt up and made fashion accessories like flowers with ribbons. She had to leave the store when she married Dave in 1928. They had two daughters, Sue and Eleanor.

Gibb used to enjoy visiting casinos and even once cashed in a lottery ticket for $280,000. After the big haul she took her family on a trip to Atlantic City.

Gibb lived on her own until she turned 100 years old. Soon after her birthday, Gibb moved in with her daughter Sue and son-in-law Dave.

Family members credit her longevity to a healthy lifestyle, genetics, and plenty of full fat cream and butter. Gibb walked frequently and didn’t smoke or drink until she reached her 70s. Now she will have a beer each day and sometimes wine with dinner. Gibb has kept a sharp sense of humour over the years and when asked if she has a boyfriend she responds with a chuckle and says, “Bud…Budweiser.”

But if you ask her how she made it so far, she’ll answer differently than her family.

“I don’t know. I can’t help it….I will have to take what God gives me,” Gibb says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kim Anderson or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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