Skip to content

The secret to turning 100? 'Self-care, some luck and a bit of haggis'

David Wilson spent the morning of his 100th birthday helping teach an exercise class at Guelph Lake Commons

Guelph's newest centenarian says by taking care of yourself, having some luck, and maybe a bit of haggis to keep healthy, you too could find yourself celebrating your 100th birthday.

David Wilson, a resident at Guelph Lake Commons on Victoria Road, cut the cake for his milestone birthday Wednesday afternoon.

The retirement home went all out for the occasion, from residents singing happy birthday led by a Scottish bagpiper, to Wilson receiving 100 cards for 100 years, bringing the birthday boy and many others to tears of joy.

Originally from Scotland, Wilson moved to Canada in 1964 "for economical reasons."

"I had three children, and I wanted to give them a good education, which was very difficult for me, a working fellow in Scotland," he said.

All three got a great education, which Wilson said he cherishes. Some family members were able to gather with him to celebrate the day.

When he arrived in Canada, he worked to get his teacher's degree, specializing in technical studies. Wilson was living in Newmarket at the time, but moved to Timmins for his first job as a shop teacher at Timmins High.

"I went up to Timmins on my own, left my family, then they came up there," he said. "We stayed there for two years."

After that, the family moved back south when Wilson got a job at Walkerton District Secondary School. He retired in 1988, but he and his wife Andrine remained in the community until 2001, shortly after the Walkerton e.coli outbreak that caused seven deaths.

"After we were poisoned, I lived there for about six months," Wilson said. "My son, who lives in Guelph, said to me 'you must leave this town.'"

So they did, and moved to the Village by the Arboretum.

Andrine passed away in 2003 and Wilson moved to Guelph Lake Commons seven years ago.

"It's the happiest place I've been since my wife died," Wilson said. "This is a wonderful place. I got beautiful friends here, and I'm very happy."

The once avid golfer now spends his time with other passions, including music and books.

Part of the Backstage Boys band – a group who played at the Arboretum – Wilson plays the harmonica. He also dabbles with the bagpipes.

He still does to this day, holding a concert in his new home once a month, where he plays the harmonica and Sarah Sharina, the residence activity coordinator who plays guitar, form quite the musical duo.

He'll also delve into his collection of classical music and go to concerts from time to time.

He also ran exercise classes before breaking his leg two years ago.

But after staff looked after him, and helped him heal up, Wilson found himself at the front of the class once again for his 100th birthday, leading a morning exercise class.

Wilson can still walk around, but has assistance with his walker.

Keeping active is certainly part of the equation to reach 100, he said. But there is mostly luck involved too.

"You can't control aging," he said. "I'm here, I've looked after myself for a long time."

 Wilson said he keeps away from the dessert table, but there's one food he swears by.

"You want to keep healthy? Eat haggis," Wilson said.

When asked for some words of wisdom, Wilson said to look after yourself.

"When you get older, it creeps on you," he said. "You don't know what's happening.

"One morning you wake up, you're full of arthritis, you need new knees, you got a sore back. I advocate, exercise yourself, look after yourself and walk tall. Don't slouch, walk tall. Eventually if you get older, you're going to end up with a walker, most of you."

Looking back, he said he's had a wonderful life, has travelled the world and seen everything there is to see.

"I don't need to see anything else," he said. "It's what they say 'been there and done that.' I had a good life."

"I'm 100 years of age. And I'm hoping that will carry on a little while longer."


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Mark Pare

About the Author: Mark Pare

Originally from Timmins, ON, Mark is a longtime journalist and broadcaster, who has worked in several Ontario markets.
Read more