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100 year old shares secret to longevity

Kelowna resident Fernande Bertrand celebrated her 100th birthday Saturday
Carli Berry/Capital News Fernande Bertrand celebrated her 100th birthday, Saturday Jan. 27.

Sex, dancing and love are the key ingredients to a long life, says a Kelowna woman who celebrated her 100th birthday Saturday.

“In a way, I think 100-years-old is living too long — it’s OK to live that way if you’re rich and very healthy, otherwise it’s the pits,” said Fernande Bertrand, who lives at The Dorchester in Kelowna.

“But maybe, I lived that long because maybe I did it my way,” she said. “Everything I did in my life I did with fun and love and joy. Every day I was happy, I love life, I love children, I love family.”

To Bertrand, sex is the number one secret to longevity.

“I don’t know how people do it, have no love and no sex in their life… if you don’t like one boyfriend you get another one if you don’t like one husband then get another one,” she said.

Bertrand has always been energetic, said granddaughter Lisa Calvert.

“I was 89 years old when I moved to Quebec City for five months and there was a big dance and music and everything,” said Bertrand.

She danced until early in the morning.

Living in Ottawa for most of her life, she was married to George Bertrand for 30 years and had six children. A resident of Kelowna for more than 20 years, Bertrand was born in Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette, Quebec in 1918 and worked as a nanny for rich politicians in the ‘60s in Ottawa. She also volunteered with Children’s Aid Society, caring for babies.

“I loved to give love and get love, I think in life that’s really the thing. In life that’s how it is, I don’t care if it’s sexually or not,” she said.

Bertrand moved to the Central Okanagan in the 1990s for the warmer climate and to be with family. She volunteered at the Seniors Outreach for more than 10 years.

“She helped older people and she was already in her ‘80s,” said daughter Lucy Anderson. “She was basically a teenage 80-year-old.”

Bertrand also travelled to Spain for four or five months to meet her companion after her husband passed.

“We’d dance on the street when I think of that… we were so free,” said Bertrand “I had so much energy I didn’t know what to do with it… If I don’t spend that with dancing, I’d spent it with some boyfriend.”

They kept each other young and had a good time together, said her son Marcel Bertrand.

She was also active in the Kelowna community. Bertrand admired Kelowna’s former mayor Walter Grey, who installed a bus stop for her after she phoned his office.

“He took time for me and called me back and told me the (stop) was going to be delayed, as if I was someone very important,” she said.

Unafraid of controversy, she wrote letters to the newspapers in Kelowna.

“I usually talk, express myself the way I think… honesty, maybe that’s why they published (them),” she said.

Bertrand’s family, many of whom live in the Central Okanagan, attended her birthday, Jan. 27

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