Sitting in her room at Ayre Manor Lodge, it is hard to believe May Hollingworth is 100 years old. She is bright, well-spoken and is enjoying her days. She has lived her entire life on Vancouver Island and has seen many changes – some good some bad.
She was born when the zipper was invented and when a Model T was likely the only car on the roads. It was an era of suffragists, strikes and the world on the verge of the First World War.
She has seen men go to the moon and colour television as well as computers in every home.
“There were good times and bad times,” she said.
She was born May Boorman in a little cabin on the beach at Qualicum on February 12, 1914. Her parents had immigrated from England shortly after the Titanic went down and came to Canada to work on the land.
May’s mother Jessie worked at the little schoolhouse in Coombs earning the princely sum of $20 per month. May helped with pumping water from the well, cleaning windows and hauling firewood. Life was hard in those days with few amenities. Butter cost 25 cents a pound and bartering and trading was a common way to get what one needed.
Just before May turned 18 years old she married Arthur Hollingworth in the midst of the Great Depression. They had two sons, Hugh and Lyle. Arthur hauled wood and poles out of the woods and earned 75 cents per pole.
“Dad was a hobo at one time,” said Hugh. “He rode the rails.”
“When we married I was someone to keep him off the rails,” said May. He went into the army and he was a really good rifleman and had a chance to compete in a championship in England but opted out.
The Hollingworths lived all over Vancouver Island including, Qualicum, Coombs, Victoria and Sooke where they built a house on Glenidle in 1960.
May and Arthur were instrumental in helping acquire the land for Ayre Manor Lodge and the original cottages.
“There was quite a few old people in Sooke who had no home,” said May.
May’s memories are helped along by her son Hugh, who is now 81. The stories come in bits and pieces and are personal and they share a chuckle over some of them. A lot of the memories are about Arthur, the husband and father, who seemed to be a large presence in their lives.
When asked what the biggest change she has seen in her 100 years of living, May said, “Well, I would say the price of food for people, a lot are finding it hard to get anything to eat.”
What would she like to see?
“I would like to see more people working, there is still a lot of people unemployed.”
A little arthritis and the aches and pains of the elderly are things she contends with in the same graceful way she has carried out her life, rarely complaining. She lived alone for many years after her husband passed away and she has been at Ayre Manor for the past three years.
She has no secret for living 100 years but she said she never smoked and didn’t drink much.
For her 100th birthday celebration May will be having a tea at Ayre Manor Lodge on February 15.