Cape Breton honours senior with surprise 104th-birthday gift

A Cape Breton woman celebrated 104 years of music, family and love on Sunday, with a music-filled birthday bash and a special surprise.

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Janet Anderson was born on Dec. 20, 1911.

In the 104 years since then, her family says she's raised four children and doted on numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even a great-great-grandchild.

Anderson's also volunteered in her community and started a band.

"She never stopped," Anderson's daughter, Liz Theriault, said. "She was always on the go, always joining clubs, bands, you name it."

In the later part of her life, Anderson started the Memory Lane Fun Band for seniors, and performed with the group for 27 years.

"We sing together. Actually, it was her that made me join the fun band after I lost my husband," Anderson's sister, Lorraine Young, said.

Even today, the 104-year-old's family says she is fond of singing and dancing.

"She'll still sing a few songs if you ask her to sing," Theriault said.

Anderson spent much of her celebration on Sunday, wheeling around the dance floor.

And when she wasn't moving to the music, she greeted the large crowd of guests who'd gathered in her honour.

"It's good to see them all," she said.

Among the visitors was Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke, who surprised Anderson with a special honour: a framed statement, officially declaring the date "Janet Anderson Day."

"She's given so much to our community," Clarke said. "To initiate the Fun Band for seniors, to be active in the Legion, (she's) always giving to her community and never looking for anything in return."

Anderson's family members say she took the same selfless approach when raising her family.

"She put her children first," Theriault said. "She was the best mother you'd ever want."

"She's been my pillar," Young added.

And, as for how Anderson made it through two World Wars, a great recession, and major changes in technology and Canadian society, Theriault said her mother has one simple key to longevity:

"I know what her secret is. She doesn't let herself get stressed out," Theriault said. "If something happens (she'll say) 'Oh well,' and then she'll get on with her life."

With files from CTV Atlantic


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