…a Scotch and wa­ter plus a whole lot of pop­pies

Doris Townsend cel­e­brates 105th birth­day Fri­day

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

While a lot has changed in the last 105 years, the sprightly en­ergy of one of Drumheller’s old­est res­i­dents re­mains firmly in­tact.

This Fri­day, March 18, Doris Townsend will be cel­e­brat­ing her 105th birth­day. Com­ing to Drumheller in 1928 as a teen, she has spent all but 17 years of her life in the val­ley. As a young woman she worked hard to make her way. As a young mother she worked hard with her hus­band over­seas, and her ded­i­ca­tion to the Le­gion con­tin­ued for years after­ward. To­day at 105, she jokes about be­ing tired all the time, but she has earned her rest hon­estly.

At 17, she came to Drumheller on her own to unite with her father and step-mother who had al­ready made the trek from Eng­land. She be­gan work­ing as a nanny for the Pap­pas fam­ily, who owned a board­ing house. She also worked at the Drumheller Hos­pi­tal in the laun­dry depart­ment.

Not long af­ter her ar­rival, her par­ents moved to Aus­tralia to join her brothers, who had ear­lier im­mi­grated there as Dread­nought Boys, a pro­gram to bring young men from Bri­tain to Aus­tralia.

Only in Drumheller for a cou­ple years, she met her hus­band John Cul­shaw and they started a fam­ily. She had a daugh­ter Doreen be­fore John went over­seas dur­ing World War II.

This is when she got in­volved with the Le­gion and the Ladies Aux­il­iary. She says her moth­erin-law spurred her on.

Dur­ing the war, she kept busy mak­ing care pack­ages, which in­cluded hand knit­ted socks, mes­sages of en­cour­age­ment and cig­a­rettes.

“We did a lot of work for the guys and they ap­pre­ci­ated it,” she re­calls.

Fol­low­ing the war, she con­tin­ued to sup­port the Le­gion. She was well known for sell­ing pop­pies at the post of­fice be­fore they were put in boxes in stores.

“I en­joyed do­ing it, meet­ing the peo­ple and talk­ing to them,” she said. “I used to do that ev­ery year.”

She be­came a life mem­ber and was pres­i­dent of the Ladies Aux­il­iary five times. In 2002, she re­ceived the Queen’s Golden Ju­bilee Medal for her ser­vice.

She had two sons Ron and Keith. Her hus­band John passed away in 1959. In 1963, she mar­ried Art Townsend.

Over the years, she kept in touch with a child­hood friend in Eng­land named Aida and 50 years af­ter she left Eng­land the friends were re­united when Art and Doris trav­elled over­seas. Aida and her hus­band also made the trip to Drumheller to visit.

Doris and Art trav­elled ex­ten­sively and at­tended Le­gion con­ven­tions across Canada. They also trav­elled to Aus­tralia three times to visit her par­ents and then on to South Korea.

One way to get Doris to smile is ask her about her Le­gion days, and her drink of choice.

“I en­joyed Scotch and wa­ter, peo­ple thought it was wrong to do it, but I never thought it was wrong. I went ahead and did what I wanted to do,” she chuck­les. Later on she be­gan to en­joy spritzers. Doris has six grand­chil­dren, 11 great-grand­chil­dren and five great-great-grand­chil­dren.

Doris re­mained in her home un­til De­cem­ber of last year. She now re­sides in the Con­tin­u­ing Care Unit at the Drumheller Health Cen­tre.

“This is my lovely break­fast,” she laughs, adding she en­joys the so­cial as­pect of her new liv­ing ar­range­ments.

“I leave my door open so peo­ple see me… I do love to talk,” she said. “Of­ten old peo­ple live alone and they re­ally shouldn’t.”

Doris will be cel­e­brat­ing her birth­day with mem­bers of her fam­ily.

Doris Townsend… turn­ing 105 Fri­day

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