• James Parry

Ruth MacLeod Salter turns 105 years young with family and friends in fine style


The day before her brilliant birthday party at Manoir Carillon, and together with her daughter, Joan Suzanne Kirton and hubby Jonathan, Ruth enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Stephanie's Grill & Bar in Hawkesbury.

The year is 1911. Sir Wilfrid Laurier is still Prime Minister of Canada. International Women's Day is celebrated for the very first time. And George V is crowned King of England and the British Dominions, including Canada.

In North Sydney, Cape Breton, a little girl is born. She will grow up to have two children, two grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren of her own, spend her summers with her daughter on Rigaud Mountain, travel extensively, and live life to the full.

Her name? Ruth MacLeod Salter who yesterday, February 10, turned 105 years young in fine style at her home for the past four years, Manoir Carillon in Chûte à Blondeau, together with fellow residents and staff, her daughter Joan Suzanne Kirton by her side, a big birthday cake, and a glass of sparkling wine.

As is customary on such milestone celebrations, I had to ask Ruth the secret to her longevity.

“I obviously owe a lot to my genes,” she laughed. “But also I don't worry about things that might happen tomorrow. I just live one day at a time, stay calm, and enjoy what it brings. And a sense of humour certainly helps.”

Over the years, those days have seen her bareback horse-riding as a youngster, ice skating, water skiing, visiting New York during the Great Crash of the 1920s, and visiting a couple of speakeasies in the process. Also playing a mean rubber of bridge, a game that she misses but is hoping to interest other residents in getting involved in again. Oh yes, it is said that she also enjoys the occasional wee dram of Scotch. If only for medicinal purposes!

Learned from Ruth, whose husband Roy passed away in 1980, that she had wanted to study to become a nurse like her Aunt Jessie. But growing up in Cape Breton in what was known as the 'Dirty 30s' and with money scarce, to say the least, she took bookkeeping classes instead. And joined a wholesaling company for which she also drove a truck.

“My Mom has always been a wiz at figures” said Kirton. “In fact, when she began visiting Jonathan and I every summer in the 1990s, we would drive around the region and, to keep her mind sharp, she would add up in her head the numbers on car license plates in front of us just for fun. Her eyesight was amazing.”

And still is, it appears. Ruth still doesn't wear glasses and one of her biggest passions is reading every day what she laughingly calls her 'sexy books.'

“She is truly an amazing lady and wonderful person,” says Nathalie Theriault, administrator at the Manoir. “She is a bundle of joy and has such a positive vision of life. It is contagious and it shows in everything she does here, including joining in the Bingo games and making the other residents laugh.”

A big Happy Birthday Ruth from everyone here at Your Local Journal. And, on a personal note, would love to join you for a game of Bingo sometime!

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