Gertrude Fredette celebrated her 101st birthday Nov. 9.
For her 100th birthday a year ago, her family held a Zoom party, modern-day technology helping the family stay in touch during the pandemic.
Her relatives say the past 18 months have been difficult, as at one point, COVID-19 meant she was only allowed visits from one essential caregiver.
With the easing of public health restrictions this year, Fredette is attending a 101st birthday party with her children and their spouses at a local restaurant this weekend.
Along with a few of her many descendants, Fredette recently entertained a Sudbury.com reporter in her room at the Elizabeth Centre. Truthfully, in speaking to her, it’s hard to believe you’re talking to a centenarian.
Fredette said she “feels fine” at age 101, and she just takes “one day at a time.” She remains in fairly good health.
Her secret to a long life? Healthy eating, abstaining from smoking, taking vitamins, dancing and exercise.
The seventh of 10 children, Gertrude Marie Hélène Fredette (née Henri) was born in Hanmer Nov. 9, 1920.
She grew up in the Valley, where she met her husband, Daniel Fredette (he passed away in 1986). The couple married Dec. 20, 1939. They had seven children — six boys and one girl.
Daniel Fredette worked in a variety of jobs, including construction and as a milkman, while Gertrude Fredette worked as a practical nurse at Pioneer Manor. The couple also owned a horse farm in the Valley.
In later life, after her husband’s death, Fredette had another long-time life companion, Gaston Charbonneau, whom she met at church in 2000.
When Charbonneau became ill, she and Fredette both came to live at the Elizabeth Centre. Charbonneau passed away in December 2018.
At the age of 101, Fredette’s descendents include 22 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.
She is pleased to have such a large and happy family.
Fredette said she has had a good life. “If I didn’t have a good life, I wouldn’t be here,” she said, with her typical humour.
Her granddaughter, Nicole Cayen, describes her grandmother as “feisty” and “strong-willed,” adding that Fredette definitely knows what she likes and doesn’t like.
Nicole’s sister, Lynn Cayen, adds that their grandmother is a “spitfire” with a mind like a “steel trap.”
“I don’t think that’s the norm, to be at my age, at 50, to still have a living grandparent,” said Nicole Cayen. “I feel very fortunate to have her in my life. She’s really a sweetheart.”