Family from all over the Island came to The Gardens in Qualicum Beach to celebrate a rare 107th birthday party. Above from left Robert Kay

Gertrude’s secret to reaching 107 years of age? A glass of whisky a day

The resident of The Gardens in Qualicum Beach said to be an inspiration to everyone

Surrounded by three generations of family, Gertrude Kay celebrated her 107th birthday Thursday, Feb. 20 making her the oldest person living at The Gardens.

“I believe she is the oldest person in Qualicum Beach,” said recreation co ordinator Lyndsay Boers. “This is certainly the oldest birthday we’ve celebrated here in a long time.”

Family came from all over the Island to ring in another year with Kay, including her two children: Marilyn Miller, 76 and Robert Kay, 82. Additionally, Kay has six grandchildren, four great grandchildren and one great great grandson on the way, due this coming May.

When asked about the secret to longevity, Kay responded without hesitation: “a glass of rye (whisky) every night.”

And according to staff, Kay practices what she preaches and is known to keep a bottle of whisky in her room.

Miller said it has been a longtime family fable that when Kay was born she weighed just two pounds and doctors advised her parents to feed her a few drops of brandy to give her strength — and she’s still here 107 years later, so she’s doing something right.

Miller said her mother is “an inspiration to everyone and somebody I brag about all the time.”

“She can still read and write,” said Miller. “She even signed all of our Christmas cards last year.”

Miller said her mother lived in Victoria, on her own, until she was 101 years old.

“She basically outlived all of her friends,” said Miller. “And then she came here to Qualicum Beach and made new ones.”

According to Miller, there are only about 50 other people in Canada older than her mother.  “She’s a pretty special woman and we’re looking forward to another year.”

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