• James Armstrong

Hudson's Maxine Bredt celebrating a century


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Hudson resident Maxine Bredt turns 100 years young this week and prepares to mark the grand occasion with friends and family.

Although it wasn’t quite the day of her birthday, Maxine Bredt cheerfully played along with the cake and candles provided for a photo op by The Journal on Monday, September 16. Her actual birth date is September 21, a Saturday, to mark her centenary celebrations.

“I tell everyone I brought in the autumn,” she said with a laugh. Born in Highwood, Montana, her family name was Llewellyn. “It’s a Welsh name with four L’s in it,” she said. By the time she was three, her family had moved to Terrace in northern British Columbia. “I wasn’t afraid of the bears because I had a dog although I found out later, it wouldn’t have been much help,” she said of her new home.

Life wasn’t easy for her family and finding the funds to further her education as she grew up proved to be a challenge.

“It cost $45 to register for the nurses’ training course,” said Bredt. To achieve her goal, she found a job as a waitress in Stewart, B.C. The end result was she trained at the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, B.C. “I loved every day of it – I wasn’t afraid of the bed pans,” she said.

Wartime service

Bredt served as a nursing sister with the 14th Canadian General Hospital, Montreal during World War II. She was stationed in Perugia, Italy for two years. There were 234 beds in the surgical ward located in the hospital that had previously been a convent, according to Bredt. Remembering events from that period isn’t something Bredt particularly likes to do but one anecdote came to mind.

“One of the senior nurses received a parcel from home,” she chuckled. “She opened it in the ward and held up the girdle. She said, ‘Fellas, look what Miss Llewellyn got!’” The response from the bedridden men was instantaneous with comments like ‘Sister, does it fit?’ or ‘Sister, can I help you put it on?’ Bredt recounted.

“It was the first time in four months they had laughed,” she said. For her, being the butt of the joke was worth it. “We always tried to have some fun.”

PHOTO COURTESY ROD HODGSON

Poster for Veteran’s Affairs

In July, 2019 retired Lieutenant Maxine Llewellyn Bredt was featured on the poster honoring the Canadian contribution to the Allied war effort in Italy, the 75th Anniversary of the Italian Campaign. Bredt, in her former uniform, is superimposed on a photo showing soldiers of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in the Sicilian town of Agira after its capture in July, 1943. Bredt has been a long-time member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Hudson Branch and has devoted 43 years as a volunteer at the Veteran’s Hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.

Active social life

Following the war, Bredt became an airline stewardess stationed in Moncton, New Brunswick. “I went there because I wanted to see Newfoundland,” she said. That was where she met her husband-to-be Bill Bredt who was an airline pilot. They were married at Wyman Memorial United Church in October 1949. “The wedding reception was at the Hudson Yacht Club,” she added.

“I can’t believe how fast 100 years has gone,” she exclaimed. When asked about the secret of her longevity, Bredt replied, “Loving life and loving people.” That philosophy coupled with an active social calendar is what life is all about Bredt.

“I loved to dance,” she noted. “I couldn’t sing but I could dance.” That said, she wasn’t sure if she would be doing any dancing to celebrate her birthday although she didn’t deny the possibility. With more than week of tributes and celebrations, she is looking forward to spending time with family and friends. Sadly, her husband Bill died in 2000. She said she was extremely grateful for the support of her family, her friends, and the community.

When asked if she ever became bored, Bredt laughed and replied, “Not yet. There’s always something that needs to be done.”

She is particularly proud of the letters and certificates of congratulation she has received from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; the Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency The Right Honourable Julie Payette; and the Prime Minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau.

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