Nova Scotia

This Nova Scotia woman lived to 111. Her secret to a long life? Salt

The secret to a long life is a whole lot of love and salt, or at least that's what Florence Webber of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., believed. At 111, she was the third oldest person in Canada when she died.

Florence Webber of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., was Canada's third oldest person when she died on April 13

Florence Webber celebrates her 110th birthday. (Submitted by Roy Webber)

The secret to a long life is a whole lot of love and salt, or at least that's what Florence Webber of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., believed.

Webber, who was 111, died on April 13 at The Birches Nursing Home in Musquodoboit Harbour. She was the third oldest person in Canada.

"[She] was always giving and always, always vigilant and family oriented," said Roy Webber, her grandson who lives in Fredericton. "I never heard a foul word or a bad word out of her."

Florence Webber was born on July 22, 1908, in Clam Harbour, N.S., to parents Amos and Susan Drake.

In 1934, Webber married Eugene Webber in Halifax. The couple had three children.

Webber poses for a photo portrait in Dartmouth in 1925 when she was 17. (Eastern Shore Archives)

Thea Wilson-Hammond, who met Webber when she was 98, recorded her life's history to add to the Eastern Shore Archives. At the time, Webber lived alone in an apartment.

"She was just a delightful person. She had a wonderful laugh, just a very cheeky kind of laugh," said Wilson-Hammond.

She said Webber was a wealth of knowledge, even at 98, sharing memories of living on the Eastern Shore and working at a gold prospecting camp on Lake Charlotte.

While her husband worked as the camp's foreman, Webber cleaned their clothes in the lake, chased squirrels out of their storeroom and even protected their hens from bears and wildcats.

In her later years, Wilson-Hammond said she lived alone, did her own grocery shopping and took the bus to weekly outings.

Webber with her husband, Eugene, and their daughter, Audrey, at a gold prospecting camp on Lake Charlotte in 1937. (Eastern Shore Archives)

Webber's independence made Wilson-Hammond understand that age is just a number.

Roy Webber said he remembers family dinners at his grandmother's home fondly.

He grew up on Nova Scotia's South Shore and only got to see her every two or three years.

When he did visit, he would go hunting with his grandfather and then come home to the smell of delicious food.

"She was a fantastic cook. I've never tasted meals that were any better ... they're the old recipes that nobody would ever find now," he said.

Webber on her 100th birthday standing next to one of the first cars she ever rode in. (Eastern Shore Archives)

"They'd put a few pounds on you in a hurry and she was more than happy to make a meal or a pie or cake."

But it was a specific ingredient that Webber said was her secret to a long life: salt.

And when she was 110 and living in a seniors home, she had to keep that secret to herself.

"While we were paying a visit one day, [she said] the caretakers had denied her access to salt. And we were like, 'Why would they deny you access to salt? You're 110 years of age. What's the point?'" Roy said.

"'Well, they were concerned about my health,' she said. 'But I don't understand. I'm 110 years of age, what's it going to do to give me salt now? It's not like we're trying to keep me alive for another 40 years.'"

Roy said he later smuggled in a small salt shaker that she kept hidden from the staff.

But he said it wasn't just salt that kept her going.

"Longevity for her, was family, friends and a lot of love."