Merle Barwis is the oldest person in Canada. Today she celebrated her 113th birthday and in two days she’ll be celebrating another Christmas.
The Victoria resident was surrounded by family and friends at her Langford care home today.
She has 38 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren, and has outlived two sons. She even has great great-grandchildren.
“She’s the oldest person in Canada we know that, apparently she’s the thirteenth oldest in the world,” says her grandson Richard Barwis.
Merle grew up in Saskatchewan, but was born in Iowa. Her father had a horse ranch and supplied horses to the Royal Northwest Mounted Police.
“She has lots of good stories about her riding horses and stuff, that was her whole life,” says Richard.
Merle and her husband came out to B.C. in the early 50’s and spent most of their time in Sooke before she came to Victoria.
“The things she’s seen and the stories she can tell, especially when she was young, they’re very interesting,” says Richard.
Richard says she has told them to secret is to keep clean, mind your own business, and have a cold beer once in a while.
He says it wasn’t until recently that his grandmother started to show her age. “We’ve had a few little medical problems and she’s not her usual self, just in the last little while actually. But she’s done this to us before and then snapped out of it and come back to us.”
Richard says his grandmother has good genes. Some of her relatives, who fought in the Civil War, lived into their 80s and 90s.
Merle did not wake up to talk to us when our cameraman went by, but her grandson says she deserves a rest in her old age.
“She worked hard I guess, and never got into any real trouble,” says Richard.