Ethel Margaret Wellington poses in the common area at Orchard Valley Retirement Residence. (Jennifer Blake - Morning Star photo)

Okanagan woman reaches major milestone – turns 100

Ethel Margaret, born in 1919, says secret to life is being around good people

Vernon resident Ethel Margaret Wellington (who goes by Margo) will turn 100 this month.

Wellington was born in Winnipeg, Man., on June 16, 1919.

She still has a sharp mind and only uses a walker about once a month.

Carolyn Wellington, Ethel’s youngest daughter, says her mom remembers things better than she does.

Ethel loves helping her neighbours and often lends a hand to a 102-year-old woman who lives in the same retirement complex.

The 100th birthday party, which is expected to have 100 guests, will be a luncheon at the Schubert Centre.

Ethel was two years old when her and her family moved to B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

She said that the 1930s where really hard times, but her parents kept it well hidden so her and her siblings wouldn’t suffer.

“I never ever heard my parents grumble about not being able to do this or that,” said Ethel.

“They kept it all from us, none of us knew any different.”

Ethel’s mother would thrift the biggest couches she could find and then would turn them inside out to sew coats for her children. Ethel had six siblings.

She started going to school when she was seven, before then her parents traveled around to wherever work was.

She would often ride a wagon pulled by a Shetland pony to school.

Ethel also had a pet goat who would follow her to school like a dog.

She was no longer allowed to bring the goat after it head-butted her teacher.

Because times where hard, at 13 Ethel stopped going to school so she could help her parents on the farm when they moved to Surrey.

“My parents didn’t tell me, it was up to me,” she said.

“I could see that they needed help.”

Her family were some of the first people in the Surrey area.

Eventually Ethel, who dreamed of becoming a doctor, started helping one of Surrey’s doctors at house visits. At about 20 years old (1939), Ethel began working at a hospital.

While she was working at the hospital, she started hearing about the war factories where planes and boats where made, and she eventually switched jobs for better pay.

Ethel, still around 20, met her husband while working at the war factory in Vancouver.

“We couldn’t wait to get married and have these three brats,” said Ethel, gesturing at her daughter.

The family moved to Vernon in 1994.

Ethel says her secret to a long life is being around good people, giving specific credit to having an excellent husband and good children.

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