NORTH BAY, Ont. — Canada’s oldest woman, whose longevity and zest for life won her national attention — and an admiring nod from astronaut Chris Hadfield — has died at 114.
Ellen “Dolly” Gibb was born in Winnipeg on April 25, 1905 — a time when Wilfrid Laurier was prime minister, Teddy Roosevelt was the U.S. president and neighbouring Alberta and Saskatchewan hadn’t even joined Confederation.
Her obituary says Gibb was the oldest person in North America, and ninth oldest in the world.
She died Wednesday in North Bay, Ont. The local McGuinty Funeral Home confirmed her death on Friday.
In her obituary, her family credited her long life to “great genetics and diet, regular walks, a love of family and generosity to others.”
It said she had a sharp mind and no chronic ailments, with only one short stay in hospital since giving birth to her daughter Sue in 1939, and remained “serene, content, grateful and positive to the end.”
On Friday morning, Hadfield — who had featured her on his speaking tour — acknowledged the loss of a woman who had been Canada’s oldest living person for more than three years.
“The longest of lives. I stand quiet and salute you, Dolly Gibb — rest now in peace,” Hadfield tweeted.
Gibb was the daughter of a Metis woman and a Scottish-Canadian prospector who had sought his fortune in the Klondike gold rush, according to her obituary.
Her mother died after giving birth to her sister when Gibb was five, and her father raised Gibb and her siblings on a small farm in what is now Winnipeg.
Gibb herself lost her husband after 40 years of marriage in 1968. She was also pre-deceased by a daughter and granddaughter but survived by a daughter, nine grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren, along with a large extended family.
A celebration of her life will be held Saturday in North Bay.
Ontario Finance Minister Victor Fedeli had joined Gibb to celebrate her 114th birthday in North Bay in April, and presented her with “celebratory scrolls” from himself and Premier Doug Ford.