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Marching to 100: New Island centenarian puts one foot in front of the other

Myrtle Purchase has walked the equivalent across Canada through daily walks in Comox
Myrtle Purchase walks nearly day in Comox - perhaps one of the secrets to a long life as the Berwick resident is set to celebrate her 100th birthday this month. Photo by Berwick Comox Valley

Myrtle Purchase started walking for a job selling seeds when she was 12 years old, and 88 years later, she hasn’t stopped.

The Berwick Comox Valley resident, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 11, is quite blunt when it comes to her exercise routine, which includes walking several kilometres a day through Comox (weather permitting).

“When I started walking, I thought ‘this is good,’ and I never stopped.”

The centenarian, who is from Corner Brook, N.L., moved to Comox around a decade ago to be closer to her son, after spending time living in the Lower Mainland near White Rock following her husband’s work transfer.

Nearly every day, Purchase walks her usual route around town, so much so, her son bought a step counter to find out how far she walked. Thanks to record-keeping from Berwick staff, it was determined she had walked across Canada (west to east) and back to approximately Thunder Bay heading west again - close to 10,000 km in total - since she began keeping track, approximately five years ago.

“I think everybody should exercise to the best of their ability,” she noted, who walked a marathon three years ago with her daughter to raise money for seniors.

Purchase said she walks by herself, but only when the weather is good. On icy or snowy days, she opts for exercise programs offered at the Berwick, particularly yoga or sometimes just walks through the hallways of the building.

While she follows her routine for physical exercise, she also acknowledges the important role of mental health. Every night, she recounts positive sayings such as ‘be kind to others and to yourself and always wear your best smile,’ or ‘be patient with others because you never know what they might be going through.’

“I try to have a good perspective and to look at the bright side of life,” she added.

As for her birthday celebration, Purchase was looking forward to having a dinner hosted by her son who lives nearby along with a few close friends.

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Erin Haluschak

About the Author: Erin Haluschak

Erin Haluschak is a journalist with the Comox Valley Record since 2008. She is also the editor of Trio Magazine...
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