Sunshine Coast’s oldest person dies at 108

Freda England, the oldest person living on the Sunshine Coast, has died.

“The remarkable thing is that Freda lived her life on her terms,” said Sandy Hendricks, England’s niece and primary caregiver for 30 years.

England, 108, died peacefully of complications from old age on Sept. 14 at Christenson Village in Gibsons.

“Her attention to detail was paramount in her daily life, from getting dressed to going to bed,” Hendricks said. “She faced her growing blindness with great courage. She attended all the events where music was involved, as her first love was singing. She played bocce until the week before her passing.”

England had an active volunteer and social life, and was an enthusiastic Canucks fan. That loyalty was honoured each year since her 100th birthday by retired Canucks player Trevor Linden, who gave her an annual birthday greeting.

England moved to Christenson Village from Vancouver after breaking her hip at the age of 95. While she could no longer live independently, her rehab work enabled her to continue walking with the use of a walker. “Her guiding rule was to humbly accept the limitations that life imposed on her, but she never failed to appreciate the good people and blessings that did come her way. However, she knew what she wanted and made sure her requests were met,” said Hendricks. 

That included her daily Kit Kat bar. “I swear, I think these were what kept her going,” said Hendricks.

England immigrated to Canada from Britain in 1919 and lived most of her life in Winnipeg before moving to Vancouver in 1956, where she worked as a seamstress. She had two marriages, but no children.

“She went through the First World War, the Depression, her husband was gone for six years in the Second World War, they suffered, they were on rations, they didn’t have much, but family was always important,” said Hendricks.

Those challenges also left a lesson for Hendricks.

“What I think I learned from Auntie Freda was, no matter how hard life is, always look on the bright side. There’s always good things coming,” she said. “You cope with whatever happens.”

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