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Canada’s oldest person, a North Bay resident, will celebrate her 112th birthday next week

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North Bay resident Ellen “Dolly” Gibb will be celebrating her 112th birthday on Wednesday, April 26th. Gibb was recently named as Canada’s oldest person by the Gerontology Research Group, and as of today is the 42nd oldest person in the world. Gibb was originally born in Winnipeg in 1905. According to her family, she spent her first 36 years in Winnipeg, before 64 years in Thunder Bay and has spent the last 12 years in North Bay. In the news release prepared by Gibb’s family, they say she was given the nickname Dolly in her late teens for her fashion sense, as she worked at Eaton’s in Winnipeg creating and making fashion accessories. She remembers the excitement when Eaton’s had its first escalator installed. Unfortunately, she was forced to leave Eaton’s when she married her husband in 1928, as they did not knowingly employ married women back then.

Gibb and her husband Dave had two daughters, Eleanor born in 1929 and Sue born in 1939. Her husband was a talented metal smith who worked for the railway in Winnipeg. In 1941, the family moved to the Westfort area of Fort William (now part of Thunder Bay) where he joined the war effort at Canada Car building airplanes. He passed away in 1968, and Gibb continued to live on her own in her tiny 425 square foot, two bedroom wartime home on Gore Street in Thunder Bay. She lived in that home until the age of 100. In 2005, shortly after her 100th birthday, Gibb moved to North Bay to live with her daughter Sue and son-in-law Dave. After Dave’s death in 2007, Gibb and her daughter continued to live together thanks to her determination, and the help and support of many friends and caregivers.

Gibb is currently confined to a wheelchair, but her family says otherwise she enjoys good health and a sharp mind with a very strong detail-oriented memory. Her family attributes her longevity to genetics, eating well in moderation, and lots of full-fat cream and butter. She always walked a lot as she rarely owned a car and she never smoked or drank until her 70s when she started enjoying the occasional scotch. Today she enjoys a daily Coors Light or Budweiser, and when asked what her boyfriend’s name is with a laugh she says “Bud..… BudWeiser”.

Gibb and her family are very grateful for the help of their neighbours and friends, the Cassellholme home care team, Paramed nursing care and the generosity of Dr. Wendy Graham. Today Gibb has nine grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren. Ahead of her birthday, Gibb has received congratulatory messages from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General David Johnston, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell. She also received well wishes from local dignitaries including Nipissing-Temiskaming MP Anthony Rota, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli and North Bay Mayor Al McDonald.

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