Williams Lake resident Jean Montgomery celebrated her 100th birthday on Thursday. Around 70 people crammed in to the Terra Ridge Clubhouse for her centennial birthday.
She was graced by the presence of her 93-year-old sister, Helen Macauley of Victoria and her grandson, internationally famous guitar player, Don Alder, who flew up from Vancouver to Williams Lake to share the special event with his grandma.
Visiting from Vancouver, Helen’s daughter Marilyn and her husband, John Werenga, and Helen’s grandchildren Jennifer and Joshua Sturgeon also joined the celebration with Joshua’s friend Denise.
Alder has a very special relationship with his grandma — who he credits for bringing his family to B.C.
Montgomery moved to the area from Manitoba in 1946, to Hydraulic, near Likely, where she met and soon married her late husband, Joe Prior.
The couple ran a small hobby farm with many different animals.
“My dad passed away when I was young and when I was 11 years old my mother thought it would be good for me to head out to B.C. and spend some time with my grandma,” Alder said.
“I reluctantly went and ended up spending the summer at her home in Likely and I had a great time, I loved it so much I made my mom sell her stuff and move out to B.C.”
Alder has vivid memories of ice cream and bicycles that summer.
“My grandma always has double-chocolate ice cream for me every day and she bought me an 18 speed bicycle and those are what stand out most about that summer,” said Alder.
Alder presented Montgomery with congratulatory letters from MLA Donna Barnett, BC Premier Christy Clark, Governor General David Johnston, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Williams Lake Mayor Kerry Cook.
There was a beautiful moment afterwards when Alder serenaded his grandma playing You Are My Sunshine on his guitar while the entire crowd sang along.
The moment moved Montgomery to tears.
Const. Nathan Strohm, a Mountie with the Williams Lake RCMP, also made a special presentation as he showed up dressed in his red serge and presented Montgomery with a letter from Queen Elizabeth II.
Montgomery has always loved seeing Mounties in their red serge and she had a friendly conversation with Const. Strohm.
“You look younger than the queen,” someone from the crowd joked as she was presented with her certificate with a portrait of the queen.
Following the presentations the crowd sang happy birthday with the sparklers setting off the clubhouse smoke detectors.
Montgomery has a Ukrainian background and was born in Manitoba in 1914 and had one daughter, Joyce Hansen, and grandson, Don.
Montgomery also spent time working at the War ammunitions factory in Hamilton, Ontario during the Second World War. She still plays bingo every Saturday.
A funny story was told of Montgomery when in 1940 at 26, she and a friend hired a chauffeur from their Winnipeg home to drive them to the Cariboo in a Ford Model A.
They made it to Banff, Alta. and the driver decided to leave the pair stranded. Luckily for Montgomery the owner of a nearby campsite not only put them up but decided to teach both girls how to drive.
Alder, one of the world’s most celebrated fingerstyle guitarists, is also known for his role as childhood friend and fellow Williams Lake native, Rick Hansen’s right-hand-man.
Alder greased Hansen’s wheelchair wheels on the 40,000-kilometre Man in Motion World Tour from 1985 to 1987, and has since worked with the Rick Hansen Foundation.
Alder performed at performances in the park last Thursday night, as well.