Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 - Mrs. Flora Thibodeau: Congratulations on One Hundred and Eleventh Birthday
Mrs. Flora Thibodeau
Congratulations on One Hundred and Eleventh Birthday
Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, on March 20, 1901, during the worst storm of the year, Flora Thibodeau was born in Rogersville, New Brunswick. Next week, she will celebrate her one hundred and eleventh birthday.
Last year, on the occasion of her birthday, I had the honour of telling you about this remarkable individual and highlighting her many accomplishments. Today I would like to share more information about the life and times of the oldest person born in New Brunswick: Flora Thibodeau.
I had the honour of visiting Ms. Thibodeau again a few weeks ago. What remains amazing is that she still lives in her own home and only receives about five hours a day of home care. She walks with the help of a walker and listens to the radio to keep up to date on all the news of the day.
Honourable senators, speaking with her is like hearing a living history book. She remembers the first of many things becoming a part of our lives, as well as many important events that occurred in the past 100 years. To name a few, she remembers the first automobile rumbling down the streets in Rogersville; the first toilet, bathtub, refrigerator, telephone and TV, let alone computer, microwave and video games. She also remembers the First World War and the Second World War, the sinking of the Titanic in the Atlantic, and she talks to me about the fear the local people had when the First World War was declared. People did not have TVs or radios very much and could not understand what was happening. The only newspaper available was L'Evangeline, which at that time did not have a lot of news beyond New Brunswick, and many did not even have access to the newspapers.
Ms. Thibodeau is the eldest of a family of six children. She had one sister, four brothers and three half-sisters. Ms. Thibodeau has seven children, six of whom are still with us. Her children are spread out across Canada and the United States. She has 17 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. About a month ago, a baby girl became the first member of the sixth generation of Ms. Thibodeau's family.
As a young child she remembers that Christmas was different than today. They had no Christmas trees but would all hang stockings on their bedroom doors. In the morning, it was a great joy to wake up and receive an orange in their stocking as a gift, as this was the only one that they would eat during the whole year. She remembers that her mother would also make them a special treat of toffee made from molasses.
As a young girl, she went to school in Rogersville until the ninth grade, which was the highest level offered at that time. From there, she went to Fredericton to train for six months to get her Class III licence so that she was able to teach up to the level of grade 8. She was a teacher from the age of 18 to 24.
In 1927, she stopped teaching when she got married. Her husband was a provincial police officer and they lived in Caraquet for a while. Once her husband lost a job for reasons unknown, they moved back to Rogersville and opened a grocery store in their own home. A few years later, at the age of 41, her husband passed away. Her seven children at the time were between the ages of 1 and 13.
Upon her husband's death she closed the grocery store and replaced it later with a second-hand clothing store. At first she supported her family with a small farm consisting of one cow, one horse and some chickens. She sold butter that she made and received a pension of $5 per month per child to support her family, which she says was a lot of money back then.
Later, she became the first woman manager of the local Caisse populaire branch. During those days, it cost 25 cents to become a member and the most that they would lend to a person was $100. She was also a telephone operator and worked at the local co-op store —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. I regret to inform the honourable senator that her time is up.
Senator Poirier: To be continued tomorrow, please.