'It's just another day': Kemptville, Ont. hospital volunteer turns 108

108-year-old Katy Pominville says she has no plans to stop knitting scarves, tuques and mittens for the Kemptville District Hospital.

Katy Pominville possibly the oldest active hospital volunteer in Canada

Katy Pominville, left, celebrates her 108th birthday with Kemptville District Hospital CEO Frank Vassallo and Jane Wolfe, president of the hospital's auxiliary. (Kemptville District Hospital)

When Katy Pominville celebrated her 104th birthday, the Kemptville District Hospital recognized her as — in all likelihood — the oldest hospital volunteer in Ontario.

That was four years ago.

Katy Pominville was recognized by the Kemptville District Hospital as likely the oldest hospital volunteer in Ontario — and that was four years ago. (Kemptville District Hospital)

Pominville turned 108 on Sunday, and four days earlier the hospital threw her a small, dignified celebration in her Kemptville, Ont., home.

"I believe she's the oldest active volunteer in all of Canada," said hospital CEO Frank Vassallo, who stopped by with birthday cards and a cake on Wednesday.

"She knits constantly. She does it as a pastime and as a passion for the hospital [and she contributes] far more than the average volunteer at any age."

For the past three decades, Pominville has been knitting whatever she can — usually scarves, socks, and mittens — six days a week.

Half go to the hospital's gift shop around Christmas, while the other half go to the local Salvation Army.

"I used to make sweaters and things, but I don't anymore," said Pominville on Sunday. "They're too heavy to handle."

Learned to knit in 1915

Pominville first picked up the knitting needles when she was only eight years old, when she was growing up on a 50-acre farm in Thurso, Que.

That would have been in 1915 — which means she's been knitting for exactly 100 years.

"Well, them days, there was nothing much to do in the evenings. No electricity, no televisions, no radios," said Pominville on Sunday.

"My mother [taught] the kids to knit. We'd knit for a pastime."

About 75 years ago — no one's quite sure, not even Pominville — she and her husband Lorne relocated to Kemptville, where she raised her six children.

Her husband died in 1997, and only three of her six children remain. One daughter lives almost right next door.

Although she's lived for more than a century and accomplished pretty much everything she's wanted to, there are a few things she hasn't done. For instance, Pominville's never flown in an airplane or ridden in a boat.

She doesn't sound like she's in a hurry to cross those off her bucket list, either.

"I prefer the land better. Want to go some place? Get your horse, take him, come home. If you fall asleep, well he'll take you home, anyway. A car won't."

Plans to keep knitting

Today, Pominville says her fingers are "starting to stiffen up" and her eyesight isn't quite what it used to be, but she has no plans to stop knitting for the hospital.

As for the fuss around her 108th birthday, Pominville accepts it with good humour, even if it's less important to her than it is to others.

"It's just another day to me," she says. "I can't have too many more, I don't expect. But you never know!"


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