On January 25th the eldest Canadian who was of Ukrainian descent passed away:
A Manitoba woman believed to be the oldest Canadian has died at age 111.
Elizabeth Buhler, who died Sunday in Winkler, Man., would have turned 112 in February.
She was born Feb. 8, 1899, in Ukraine and moved to Canada with her husband in 1925.
Buhler’s daughter, Justina Suderman, said her mother kept a positive attitude, despite enduring hard times in the former Russian empire and farming during the Great Depression.
Buhler’s religious faith and regular exercise were the keys to her longevity, said Suderman, also noting her mother ate whatever she wanted and was fond of cooking with lard.
The following is a tribute to her from Parliament:
Buhler’s age cannot be verified because her family says all birth records were destroyed during the years Josef Stalin was leader of the Soviet Union. But the family says Buhler always said she was born in Ukraine on Feb. 8, 1899.
She was just weeks shy of giving birth to her first child, Isaac, when she and her husband, who she married on Sept. 7, 1924 in Russia, her parents and several other family members, uprooted and left for a new life in Canada in 1925.
Buhler’s secret to longevity?
"Exercise," said her 80-year-old daughter, Lena Pranke, noting her mother had several plaques recognizing she’d been the oldest participant in a fundraiser involving a 10- kilometre walk.
"And good solid food," her 76-year-old daughter, Mary Dyck, said. "Her faith in God has been there all along."
Buhler had a hard life on their farm south of Winkler near the American border, which she left with her husband in 1956, to allow their son to work it. They raised a son and five daughters on the farm and the couple moved to a house in Winkler where they took in boarders. Her husband died at 69.
"They were married 43 years so she has been a widow almost as long as she was married," her 74-year-old daughter, Justina Suderman, the baby in the family, said.
Today, when she has a good day in the Salem Home where she lives, Buhler can sing hymns she learned as a child, laugh, and have conversations with people. Recently, she insisted that she wanted to remarry, but the family talked her out of it, noting there were no males in the seniors’ residence old enough for her without robbing the cradle.
On a not-so-good day, Buhler is hard to wake up and difficult to get a response from.
There were times when Buhler might not have come anywhere close to living to 111.
The first time was during the Russian Revolution when anarchists came intent on pillaging her house and killing the family. Buhler, whose maiden name was Unger, picked up a guitar and began singing until the commander ordered his men to leave and not steal anything.
The next time was when she was giving birth to her final child. The baby turned out to be a breech birth and, even though she was in a hospital for the first time, the family says because the nurse was out on a date and the doctor wasn’t around, the baby died, nearly taking Buhler with him.
So who’s the next eldest, why another Ukrainian of course!
The oldest living person is now another Ukraine-born woman, Pearl Lutzko, who lives in Saskatchewan. She was born Feb. 15, 1899.