Anna Mae Barton turned 100 years old on October 27. A resident of Heritage Lodge in Vankleek Hill, Anna Mae was not receiving visitors during this time, but she is part of a big family who left plants, a few signs and even some garden vegetables outside her exterior door at Heritage Lodge in celebration of her milestone birthday.

Anna Mae was an avid gardener and loves plants. So the offerings made her smile on Sunday, October 25 as family members visited outdoors, while keeping their distance from her. She spoke with visitors through her screen door and came outside briefly to have her photograph taken.

The question we always ask centenarians is: what is their secret to longevity? What makes them happy?

Anna Mae was quick with her answers. She says that she has been blessed with a wonderful life — a wonderful childhood and a wonderful family.

“We would get together and enjoy one another. We knew what we had and appreciated everything we got. We had no luxuries, but we were happy with what we had,” she said.

Her advice is that when if you feel discouraged, to wait it out. Tomorrow is always another day, she says.

A family member (Donna McMillan) spoke with Anna Mae recently and kindly provided us with a few details about her Anna Mae’s life. She was born on October 27, 1920 to Robert and Annie Howes at Routhier Corner on the Ridge Road.  She was the youngest of seven children, three brothers and three sisters.

Donna shared the following:

“She says that she had a wonderful childhood and parents.  It was a time when everyone was poor but she never felt that because of her family, love, and fun around her.  Everything they had or received was treasured and respected.

During World War II, she went to work in the Defense Industries Limited (DIL) in Brownsburg and was transferred to DIL in Montreal until the war was over.  She stayed on in Montreal and went to work in Murray’s Restaurant. When a Murray’s Restaurant was later opened at the Lord Elgin Hotel in Ottawa, Anna Mae then moved to Ottawa to be closer to family.

Anna Mae met Alexander (Alex or Addy) Barton while visiting her sister, Helena.  Addy and Anna Mae married in September 1947.  Addy’s job brought them back to Montreal and Anna Mae then worked at Eaton’s and Ogilvy department stores. They lived in Montreal until they eventually returned to the country — first to the Chisholm house near Lochiel and then to their beloved Ridge Road.  She has so many great stories of card games, parties, jokes, meals and fun with their family and friends from the Ridge Road.  Sadly, Alex died in March 1985.

Anna Mae describes her life as a great one, not famous but happy.  We have often asked her secret for always being so happy and interested in everything and everyone.  She credits her mother for teaching them to not dwell on the sad or bad things that happen.  Everyone has ups and downs, learn from the downs, remember the ups.  She says that everyone has different opinions that may not be your own but respect their opinion and learn from them.  She does not like to be in other people’s business either.  Live and let live.  The most important things in her life have been Alex and her family; how she loved to get together with her family.

At the Howes family home on the Ridge Road, there were always beautiful poppies growing in the garden and beds.  When asked one day, why she is always such a happy person.  Anna Mae answered ‘Maybe it was all those poppy seeds I ate growing up.’  For 100 years, Anna Mae has lived her motto ‘Laughter is the best medicine’.”