Qualicum Beach resident Beryl Pearce turned 100 years old on March 7.
Beryl has lived an interesting life so far, serving in the Second World War before she relocated to Canada in 1950, where she married and raised two sons.
Beryl’s home was destroyed during the London Blitz bombing campaign of the Second World War, so the family relocated to Malta, where her father served in the British Navy.
“We went there 10 years ago for her 90th birthday and Malta hadn’t changed that much. She remembered a lot of the places,” said Glenn Pearce, one of Beryl’s sons.
Beryl was later stationed at an airbase in Cork County, Ireland, where she served as a WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service), or Wren. Her job was to help maintain and refuel fighter planes, according to Clive Pearce, Beryl’s other son. During the war, she was engaged to a pilot who was killed in action.
“She never liked to talk about that part of her life too much,” Clive said.
Beryl immigrated to Canada in 1950. Her original plan was to settle in South Africa, but she stopped in Canada on her way, making a life-long friend on the boat ride across the Atlantic.
They landed in Montreal and took the train to Toronto, where she later met her future husband, Howie, at a picnic and decided to remain in Canada, where they raised a family.
“She never got any further than Toronto and she married my dad a few years later,” said Clive.
Beryl worked for a number of years at the Bank of Commerce in downtown Toronto.
With so much destroyed by the war, Pearce felt there were not a lot of opportunities back in England. Her mother followed her to Canada a few years later. Her father never talked about the war and, after he died, the family found a box underneath his bed which revealed he and his crew were balloted for the Victoria Cross for sinking three different types of German submarines.
Beryl moved to B.C. in the 1990s, before relocating to Sidney and then Qualicum Beach a few years ago, where she has several relatives nearby. She has six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with another on the way, Clive said.
She began an aviation family legacy with her service as a Wren. Glenn flew for Air Canada for 41 years before retirement and his son is now a first officer with Air Canada.
Her family said they are pleased with the care she has been receiving at the Gardens in Qualicum Beach. Beryl enjoys walking down to the waterfront.
“She just likes to get out and breathe the sea air because she’s always lived by the sea,” Clive said.
Her sons credit strong willpower and a “never give up” attitude, impressed on her during the war, as possible reasons for Beryl’s longevity.
“She never took a pill in her life, other than an aspirin,” said Clive. “She always refused to take any kind of medication her whole life.”
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