Thunder Bay

Want to live to be 100? 'Hug, smile, walk, talk' advises this Thunder Bay, Ont., woman

Ella 'Sis' Angus of Thunder Bay, Ont., has seen many changes in the world since she was born on October 1, 1918. But her four-word mantra for how to lead a long and happy life has remained constant.

Ella Angus was born Oct., 1, 1918; says 'we have no guarantees' in life, so take whatever opportunities come

Ella 'Sis' Angus, seen here, celebrating her 100th birthday in October, 2018. She says it's important to 'hug, smile, walk and talk.' (Cathy Alex/CBC )

Ella 'Sis' Angus of Thunder Bay, Ont., has seen many changes in the world since she was born on October 1, 1918. But her four-word mantra for how to lead a long and happy life has remained constant.

"Hug, smile, walk and talk," she said. "Do it all. A hug doesn't cost anything and you'd be amazed at how it helps people."

A willingness to try new things is also essential, said the 100-year-old who celebrated her milestone birthday by dancing the night away to music provided by her son-in-law's band, then being the guest of honour at a luncheon the next day, which included friends, family, a bagpiper and an RCMP escort.

'We made our own fun'

Sis Angus of Thunder Bay, Ont., has a four word mantra that helps guide her life - Hug, Smile, Walk, Talk. Angus recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She shared some of the stories of her first century of life with the CBC's Cathy Alex. 6:45

"I still enjoy life. I like to get out and do things. It seems very natural for me to be on the go, ready to accept invitations," Angus said.

Accepting invitations was a part of growing up in the small town of Emo, about 400 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. Life revolved around activities organized mainly through the church, everything from plays to tobogganing parties and ballgames.

"We made our own fun," she said.

'A very, very scary time'

But of course, no one's life is all fun and games. Angus has seen and experienced her share of difficulties and tragedies: The Great Depression, the Second World War, and a deadly forest fire which claimed the lives of nine children and two women in Emo in October, 1938.

"People ran for their lives," she said. "Some of my cousins were involved. It was a very, very scary time."

She was working as a telephone operator and was trying to get help while "parents of the ones who were deceased were trying to find out where their family was ... you just didn't know."

Angus can still recall the funeral and "to see those 11 caskets in the church was very, very difficult for everyone."

'Not like an old lady'

The tragedy had a lasting impact on the tiny community, leaving many people "with the feeling that our lives are so uncertain. We live them, the best we can and we hope we will avoid things like that, but we have no guarantees."

It may be why, more than 80 years later, Angus seizes almost every opportunity that comes her way, whether it's an offer to play a hand of bridge, watch curling on TV or participate in the making of a documentary at age 99.

"I don't think I'm 100 years old. I think maybe I'm 50 or 60. It's because I associate with a lot of younger people and they keep me thinking their way, not like an old lady."