Anne Kardas left Poland for Canada in 1930
Anne Kardas had a few folks over last week.
Friends and family descended on her Canboro Road home in Fenwick on Monday, May 25 to mark her 99th birthday.
Born in Poland in 1921, Kardas came to Canada in 1930 with her mother and siblings, like many other immigrants searching for refuge in a foreign country as unrest festered in Europe. Her father had arrived in Canada earlier, and had settled in a small Saskatchewan town named Togo, located east of Saskatoon and Regina, west of Winnipeg. In the boonies life was hard.
“It was a horrible place,” recalled Kardas.
The one fond memory she could recall from her childhood in Poland was of her father hitching the horse and buggy on Sunday mornings, and taking her to church. On the way back, they would stop at the general store for candy.
“That was my treat,” she said.
Things got harder when her father died in Canada, leaving Kardas’ mother and seven kids in a log cabin, in the wilderness. Anne was 14 and the eldest child. Neighbors helped them move east to Ontario, where they settled in Fenwick.
Kardas eventually married a fellow named Walter, and had seven children of her own. She trained as a nurse at age 40, and worked at the Welland Hospital on a surgical floor. When asked how many years she worked as a nurse, she responded, ”Enough to get a pension.”
She enjoys small-town living in Fenwick, and has had few health problems over her lifetime, although these days her mobility is an issue. Kardas has experienced tragedy, as her husband died years ago, and her sons Raymond and John have predeceased her. Her brother Stan passed this year.
Living alone in her home, she strives for independence, but has the help of a personal care worker for an hour each morning and evening. She watches television a lot for entertainment. When she gets bored, she’ll call relatives and tell them, “If you want to see me, better come soon!”
Kardas has attended St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Fenwick for most of her life, and a priest still comes most Sundays to give her communion at her home. The church is located next door to her house. The land on which the church was built was made available by Walter 70 years ago.
Her secret to longevity?
“Work,” she said.
UPDATED June 7, 11:50 AM, to correct Kardas’ birth year to 1921, not 1919.