When longtime Sidney resident Joan Eddy celebrated her 100th birthday in the company of friends at North Saanich’s Porto Osteria, she offered this explanation for her longevity.
“There is no secret as far as I know,” said Eddy, a mother of seven who has lived in the area for some 40 years. “I just live normally.”
Notwithstanding some extra cleaning help and food deliveries, Eddy lives largely on her own, doing most of her cooking and meeting regularly with friends.
Eddy, who was born in Dublin and worked in a naval hospital during the Second World War before coming in Canada, is representative of a growing national trend – the rising number of centenarians. According to the most recent population estimates from Statistics Canada, 11,517 centenarians lived in Canada as of July 1.
While only a small portion of the overall population, the number is growing. The census recorded 3,795 centenarians in 2001, 4,635 in 2006, 5,825 in 2011, and 8,230 in 2016, with the number now in excess of 11,000.
According to Statistics Canada, the rate of population growth for this age group was 25.7 per cent between 2006 and 2011, the second highest of all age groups among the Canadian population, after Canadians aged 60 to 64 (up 29.1 per cent). In fact, the growth rate of the centenarian population has often been one of the highest of all age groups in the last 40 years, according to Statistics Canada.
Eddy also reflects a larger aspect of this phenomenon. Most centenarians are female. Of the 8,230 centenarians enumerated in 2016, 6,890 (or 83.7 per cent) were women.
These trends reflect large gains in Canadian life expectancy, with women generally living longer for a variety of reasons.
Eddy’s friends for their part credit her wicked sense of humour as among the reasons for her longevity. Others, according to her friends, include her lack of perceived vices such as smoking and drinking.
“What a miserable life!” she chimed in with a laugh.
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