Carli Berry/Capital News Irene LaFrance celebrates her 105th birthday, Saturday, April 22 at the Delta Conference Centre.

Local celebrates 105th birthday

Irene LaFrance turned 105 on April 13

Irene LaFrance lives a simple life that may have contributed to her longevity.

LaFrance celebrated her 105th birthday at the Delta Conference Centre on Saturday.

“When you say simple life now a lot of people don’t know what it means,” she chuckled. “I raised a big family and I was doing all the work, the baking…it was a very simple life on the farm, milking cows and taking care of the family.”

Lafrance grew up on her father’s farm in northern Alberta and was the oldest of 12 children.

Times were different then, she cooked, cleaned and helped her family do chores, baking bread once or twice a week on the farm in LaFond. Gardening was a pastime she continued until she was 97.

“She always made her food from scratch,” said daughter Michelle LaFrance, adding Irene was living by herself at 97.

Irene married her husband, Charles LaFrance on Oct. 28, 1937, and had 10 children. They left the farm in 1956, which she said was a change for her afterward.

“Now you know, the farms are not the same. Of course, my parents were farmers and that’s what it was,” said Irene.

In her lifetime, she has lived through two world wars, and vast changes in technology. But she’s always been someone who takes life as it comes.

“I’m kind of a person who goes with the times I’m a simple person so I was always taking life as it came… I’m not one to judge life.”

She remembers listening to the household’s first radio. Her favourites were the French stations.

“I was French when all that was happening. Eventually, I had to learn English and I had the hardest time.” Irene learned English in her 50s, as her father was from Quebec.

“That’s when we started mixing with the English people, my husband knew English,” she said. “But me, it took me a while to catch on.”

With the times of television, she took no interest, as there was “work to do in the house,” she said.

Irene said moving from place to place was difficult. Her husband wanted to leave Alberta so they gave up the farm and spent time on Vancouver Island before moving to Kelowna in the 1970s.

“I remember the first time we moved to Kelowna and there were orchards everywhere,” said daughter Michelle. “We used to come here for holidays from Alberta when we were young. Dad thought it’d be nice and warm.”

Irene admits her memory isn’t as good as it used to be, sitting with a quiet demeanor. She never drove a car, taking her scooter out for coffee, and spent her time knitting and crocheting until recently.

Michelle said she was always quite humble.

“I’m not a person for big parties,” said Irene.

Her birthday party had guests from across B.C. and a few relatives from the U.S. to make up 120 attendees. Irene sat and greeted each one by the door.

“(I get to) see the families live far away and I don’t see them that often, a lot of them I might not recognize.”

Irene was born on April 13, 1912, a day before the sinking of the Titanic.

Irene has been living in the Missionwood Retirement Resort for the past six years, spending her time reading and completing crosswords.

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