Yula Gall said it’s her community and the support they’ve given her that has helped her reach 100 years of age.
And a bit of life experience doesn’t hurt.
It’s a combination of both, as well as always having things to look forward to, that Gall said has made her life great. While reflecting on turning 100 on July 19, Gall brought up a tornado in Saskatchewan, where she was born and raised on a farm in Carlisle.
“I put a tin lid over my head and went out to see about my turkey… I was stubborn,” she said. “And I saw that thing coming… it went over us, took the house and the house was going round and round and the cellar steps were still on it and the smoke was coming out of the chimney.”
Gall, 15 at the time, watched her house get swept away. She recalls one of her turkeys surviving and her taking it with her. The tornado not only swept up her house, but the roof of the skating rink in town.
True to her spirit, Gall said it was what happened after the tornado that she focuses on – the “good part.”
Gall’s neighbours banded together to help her family rebuild their house in record time. Her mother was recovering from injuries from the tornado at the time, so it was the people in Carlisle who banded together to help them out.
“The lumber company gave us a real bargain on material and the neighbours brought their tools and a retired architect came to supervise and in two weeks, we had a new house,” she said.
Gall said the story shows how people have always been there for her, how her community has always had her back.
“The whole lifetime is about the neighbours,” she said. “What they did… no matter where I went, the neighbours always took me in and made sure I was alright… neighbours have kept me out of trouble all the way along.”
She eventually moved to Qualicum Beach in 1980 with her husband, who retired after working for CN Rail. They had a daughter together, who passed away in 2004.
“She had a good life too, she was the same as us – if there was fun and games going on, she was there,” she said.
Gall now lives in a suite in the home of friend Ann McVey, who chimed in during the interview about how impressive Gall is.
“She’s always been interested in new things, she has her computer here, she still goes on and checks her email… she’s just amazing,” said McVey. “Thought nothing of taking the bus to Parksville when she was 94 or 95.”
The two have known each other since 2002, when they moved across the street from each other.
“We just became good friends and when I built my house in Qualicum Beach I put a suite in and asked her if she’d like to come and live there,” she said.
“It’s just wonderful because I’ve watched it grow and be built and everything just suits me,” added Gall.
In response to the obvious, asking how it feels to be 100, Gall said it’s not too different.
“Oh, I don’t notice I difference, I’ve been an old lady for a long time,” she said with a laugh.
Ultimately, she said she just feels grateful to have been celebrated on her birthday.
“The celebration was just a wonder how it was so carefully organized,” said Gall. “I was so pleased to see people.”