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

The north lane of White Rock’s Marine Drive will be closed to traffic as a result of a decision by council, aimed at providing more patio space for waterfront restaurants. (File photo)
White Rock council votes to make Marine Drive one-way route

North lane of waterfront drive to be closed to traffic, allowing for expanded restaurant patios

White Rock waterfront access ramps to be upgraded

Council uses contingency funds to set work in motion

Surrey-based entrepreneur Ekam Panesar, 19, says he’s ready to take on the big delivery apps with his Dishpal App. (Zoom meeting photo)
Surrey entrepreneur, 19, delivers Dishpal as alternative to ‘big’ food/grocery apps

Ekam Panesar got the idea to develop app as a 16-year-old enjoying a summertime meal with his father

Surrey RCMP photo
Police seize loaded gun after car speeds off in Newton

A man and woman were arrested Thursday in an underground parking lot in the 8200-block of Scott Road

Surrey students volunteer for the Cloverdale Rodeo in 2016. The Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation is again awarding scholarships to Surrey students who spend their time volunteering. The deadline for applications is May 21. (Photo submitted)
Thousands of dollars in scholarship money available to Surrey students

Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation offering scholarships, deadline is May 21

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Majority of council salutes new flag for Salmon Arm

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Trina Hunt’s remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Trina Hunt’s family appeals to killer to step forward after remains found in Hope

Cousins also ask Hope residents to think back to weekend Port Moody woman was in the area

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)
Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants to see body cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Most Read