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May. 25, 2022 | Wednesday
Local News
NOTL resident celebrates 100th birthday


Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Gertrude (Trudy) Waldie reached a major milestone last week.

Waldie's 100th birthday was celebrated in a big way, over the course of five days, and included a celebration at Upper Canada Lodge, where Waldie lives, and a birthday dinner at her daughter’s home the following day.

Then, there was a dinner at The Irish Harp last Friday and a family gathering of 55 people at Betty’s Restaurant in Niagara Falls on Saturday.

The last party was held at Upper Canada on Sunday for all nursing home residents as well as some family members. Lord Mayor Betty Disero and  Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates also stopped by to congratulate Waldie.

“I had a wonderful, wonderful time,” she said.

Born on Jan. 30, 1920, at a farm in Elgin County, Ont., Trudy Waldie (née Laidlaw) had four sisters and one brother. However, the boy died at birth. Two of Waldie's sisters also died but the other two are still alive.

Waldie attended the London Normal School and later became a teacher at a one-room school in the area. She was then hired to teach in junior grade classes in Sparta, Ont., and that’s where she met her future husband, Gordon Waldie, who was teaching senior classes at the same school.

They were married in 1946 and Waldie hasn’t worked as a teacher ever since, focusing entirely on her family and doing volunteer work.

“I didn’t think I’d be a very good mother if I had taught all day, then went home. It just didn’t appeal to me at all,” she said.

In her spare time, Waldie volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels, drove cancer patients and worked with a local church in St. Thomas.

Sewing was also one of her hobbies. Waldie recalled how she sewed wedding dresses for both of her daughters, Louise and Betty, and each dress was made in an entirely different style.

When women at the church asked Waldie to make dresses for their daughters, she had to decline.

“That was a labour of love because I spent hours and hours to make those dresses,” she said.

Waldie’s marriage lasted for 61 years before her husband Gordon, who had Alzheimer’s, died in 2008. She recalled how she would visit him at a nursing home almost every day, saying it was really hard because Gordon missed home but Waldie couldn’t look after him by herself.

She lived in Strathroy for 20 years before moving to NOTL last June to live closer to her daughter Louise, who is also a NOTL resident.

“It’s friendly,” Waldie said about living in town.

With five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren living all across Ontario, Waldie said her family has always been at the centre of her life and it has always been more important to her than building a career.

“I found it to be a full-time job,” Waldie said of her experience raising five children. “I felt that I wanted to be there for them. And I think it has paid off, very much so.”

Music has also surrounded Waldie all her life. Growing up, she used to sing together with her sisters. One of them would play the piano, and the rest of the girls would sing.

Later in life, Waldie sang at church choirs both in Canada and in Florida where she and her husband usually lived during the winter months.

“People in the choir would say, ‘Now, we can keep in tune,’ because I kept right on the right note,” Waldie jested. “I had a wonderful ear for music. I think I got it from my mother because my father could hardly sing at all. And my husband couldn’t either.”

Waldie passed her love for music down to her children as her two daughters took piano lessons.

“That has served us very well because both my sister and I still play and are a part of musical endeavours at this point,” Louise Waldie said. “It paid off … and I thank her for that opportunity.”

Trudy Waldie has never smoked or drunk alcohol in her life, and she always tried to eat healthy food and to exercise now and then.

“Years ago, I never thought about it,” she said about reaching age 100.

Waldie said she doesn’t have any regrets.

“For me, it’s been quite a full life filled with family. They have always been very important to me.”