Armstrong Abbeyfield resident Betty McGillivray (left) celebrates her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7, with friend Dara Gilliland, who threw a party and made a fantastic dinner for the birthday girl. (Contributed)

Armstrong Abbeyfield resident Betty McGillivray (left) celebrates her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7, with friend Dara Gilliland, who threw a party and made a fantastic dinner for the birthday girl. (Contributed)

PHOTOS: Armstrong centenarian cracks jokes on milestone birthday

Betty McGillivray, who reached the century mark Aug. 7, called the first 100 years ‘the worst’

Armstrong’s Betty McGillivray turned 100 on Aug. 7.

She was tickled to be talking to the media about it:

Reporter: “Hi Betty. Happy belated 100th birthday (on Wednesday, Aug. 10).”

Betty: “Thank you. They tell me the first 100 years are the worst.”

Reporter: But it’s all sunshine and roses from here, right?”

Betty: “That’s what they tell me but I don’t buy that BS.”

Reporter: “Is it OK if I ask you a bunch of questions?”

Betty: “OK, but if they’re dumb questions, I can give you dumb answers.”

This pistol came into the world in High River, Alta., on Aug. 7, 1922, the youngest of three children (her brother and sister have passed). McGillivray grew up on the family farm.

“Dad had a mixed farm on only a quarter section of land so he did odd jobs around the countryside,” said McGillivray. “Cutting hay, and rapping culverts with rocks so they wouldn’t wash out, that kind of stuff.

“I guess you worked off the taxes on your property that way.”

She left the farm and school (“the school of hard knocks,” she called it) in Grade 10 to move to Edmonton and attend Alberta College. She was supposed to finish Grade 12 there but she said the move was “pretty much a struggle for my family.” So she took a secretarial course and returned to High River to work at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

When the Foothills School Division opened up in High River, McGillivray went to work there. She moved to Victoria in the Second World War with her first husband, Chris Christofferson (“Not the singer, don’t get excited,” she deadpanned) and became a hairdresser. Christofferson went to work in construction after the war and, together, the pair went to Vancouver to take a dog grooming course.

The marriage lasted 16 years, the couple divorced, and McGillivray then married the man she would spend more than 50 years with, Roy McGillivray. He’s the one who brought the pair to the North Okanagan.

“His daughter lived in Armstrong and he wanted to be closer to her,” said McGillivray.

Roy passed away 13 years ago.

She is a current resident of Abbeyfield House in Armstrong. When asked how she was going to pay her rent upon moving there, McGillivray said, “By having garage sales.”

Friend and Abbeyfield volunteer Dara Gilliland made good on a promise on McGillivray’s 99th birthday, to cook McGillivray dinner for her 100th.

Gilliland not only made a dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, stuffing, carrots, steamed broccoli and acorn squash, she threw a celebration of McGillivray’s milestone at Abbeyfield. Gilliland had help from her husband, Lyle Williamson, and friend Charmaine Comeau. The celebration was attended by McGillivray’s fellow residents and some of Abbeyfield’s executive board, who brought a delicious vanilla cake.

“They had a wonderful party for me. I really enjoyed it,” said McGillivray. “It was a day to remember.”

Asked her secret to reaching 100, McGillivray laughed and regaled the reporter with a story about her nephew who is convinced his wife’s aunt, who just turned 100, is going to drink herself to death.

Betty: “I have a glass of wine every night before bed.”

Reporter: “Red or white?”

Betty: “Royal White. But they’ve quit making the damn stuff so now I have to find something else.”

McGillivray also has her doctor’s approval about the glass of wine before sleep.

“He told me to keep doing whatever I’m doing because it’s obviously working for me,” she laughed. “I’ve had a good life and I’m very fortunate I’m as healthy as I am.”

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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Friends Lyle Williamson (left) and Charmaine Comeau (right) help Armstrong Abbeyfield resident Betty McGillivray celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

Friends Lyle Williamson (left) and Charmaine Comeau (right) help Armstrong Abbeyfield resident Betty McGillivray celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

Armstrong Abbeyfield resident Betty McGillivray (right) acknowledges obliging motorists helping her celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

Armstrong Abbeyfield resident Betty McGillivray (right) acknowledges obliging motorists helping her celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

Residents of Armstrong Abbeyfield, friends and Abbeyfield’s board helped Betty McGillivray of Abbeyfield (far end of table, centre) celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

Residents of Armstrong Abbeyfield, friends and Abbeyfield’s board helped Betty McGillivray of Abbeyfield (far end of table, centre) celebrate her 100th birthday Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

“The first 100 years are the worst,” joked Betty McGillivray at a celebration for her milestone birthday at Armstrong Abbeyfield Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

“The first 100 years are the worst,” joked Betty McGillivray at a celebration for her milestone birthday at Armstrong Abbeyfield Sunday, Aug. 7. (Contributed)

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