North America's oldest person, Ellen “Dolly” Gibb of North Bay, died suddenly and peacefully yesterday at the age of 114.
She was both Canada’s and North America’s oldest person and ninth oldest in the world according to the Gerontology Research Group.
Dolly had been Canada’s oldest living person since January 2016 and is the fifth oldest Canadian of all time.
Dolly's family wrote the following in an obituary posted today:
"Her family credit her long life to great genetics and diet, regular walks, a love of family and generosity to others. She had a sharp mind in spite of hearing challenges and more recent mobility challenges. She remained serene, content, grateful and positive to the end. She had no chronic ailments and only had one short stay in hospital since she gave birth to daughter Sue in 1939.
She was featured in Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's national tour as he spoke about Dolly and her zest for life with her picture projected. She was also featured in Macleans magazine's Canada 150th Birthday issue in a story written by her great-grandaughter Brittany, and in many magazine and newspapers stories across the country."
She was born Ellen Box in Winnipeg in 1905 before Alberta and Saskatchewan were even provinces and had five siblings, most of whom lived well into their nineties.
Given the nickname Dolly in her late teens for her fashion sense, she worked at Eaton’s in Winnipeg creating and making fashion accessories such as flowers from ribbons. She remembered the excitement when Eaton’s had its first escalator installed.
When she married Dave Gibb in 1928, she was forced to leave Eaton’s as they did not knowingly employ married women in those days.
Today she has nine grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren, and 12 great-great-grandchildren.