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Yarmouth woman 105 years old and rarin’ to go

Ruth Cann, 105, arrived at The Meadows seniors facility last fall and has settled in nicely. Other residents say she’s a sweetheart and is both saucy and sweet.
Ruth Cann, 105, arrived at The Meadows seniors facility last fall and has settled in nicely. Other residents say she’s a sweetheart and is both saucy and sweet. - Carla Allen

Students taught over teacher’s 37-year career now visit her in seniors facility

YARMOUTH, N.S. —

She’s 105 years old but that doesn’t stop young-at-heart Ruth Cann from gallivanting around the county.

It was a different story last fall when she arrived at The Meadows from her former home in Kemptville, where she lived alone for 22 years.

“I guess people thought it was time I got out of there and someone else looked after me,” she said in her delightfully witty way.

She adds that she’s forever grateful to her former neighbours who brought her food and kept her safe.

She says she missed her home but thinks likely everybody does at first.

“Now I feel more settled and at home because this is where I belong,” she said. “I can have fun here. I was lonesome at home for the last two or three years… I like to socialize… maybe too much!”

Recently, she and other seniors visited a boatbuilding shop on Cape Sable Island. Then they had lunch at a place Cann loves – The Lobster Shack.

Another time they went to the Red Cap Restaurant in West Pubnico for dinner.

“I can’t begin to name the places we’ve gone to. We went to Anchored Grounds in Tusket one day and they have wonderful coffee there and the muffins… just a delight. We’ve been to the Yarmouth Light. Oh, I don’t know where we haven’t been.”

When she doesn’t have wheels beneath her, Cann provides her own means of travel. Despite her limited sight and hearing, she loves to walk. The minute she retired, she says she began walking two miles a day. She continues to walk the paved path around the Meadows, sometimes referring to it as the Cabot Trail.

Often, she’d sit and rest in a sunny corner at the end of her outing. She jokingly referred to it as her corner and one day found a sign “Ruth’s corner” in the spot, along with some painted rocks and flowers.

“I felt so honoured,” she said.

Ruth Cann, a 105-year-old resident at The Meadows, taught school for 37 years. She now has some of her former students caring for her.
Ruth Cann, a 105-year-old resident at The Meadows, taught school for 37 years. She now has some of her former students caring for her.

Cann was born Christmas Eve in 1913 and she says the doctor who delivered her came all the way from South Ohio in a horse-drawn buggy in a bad snowstorm.

“My mother told me that. Anyway, here I am,” she said.

After Grade 11 she worked a year in Kemptville’s general store and post office, saved her money and went to teachers college in Truro. Her first teaching position was in Brenton, where she met her husband, Jesse Cann. He was known locally as the man who built an iceboat and the couple used to go up and down Lake George on it.

“We had the best time,” said Cann.

Jesse worked as a flight mechanic during the Second World War and Ruth moved to Kitchener, Ontario, to be with him. Their first daughter, Coral, was born there. At the end of the war he returned and did carpentry work with a friend who built new schools throughout the province.

“He always came home to Kemptville on the weekends no matter how far away he was,” she said. After their second daughter, Jennifer, was born, Ruth continued to teach in Kemptville schools.

“I served time in all of them. I got to know all the kids around the village,” she said.

She remembers with great fondness when she taught Grade 2 students at Carleton Consolidated School.

“They were the most dear little children, age seven.  I really loved them. I taught there for close to 20 years.

Some of those children now work at The Meadows and others come to visit her.

“That’s what gives me great joy,” she said. “Since I’ve moved here I’ve had quite a few.

She was 63 when she retired after teaching for 37 years.

Cann says she doesn’t understand the way the world is now.

“It puzzles me. I don’t understand it. I listen to CBC news at night but I can’t see it. I try not to worry too much. What’s the point? But I do like to know what goes on.”

Every night she participates in the Gabbers Club, a small group of residents that meet and discuss the events of the day.

“It’s very nice to be able to get together and talk to somebody. It saves one’s sanity, I think.”

When asked if she’s very outspoken at those times, she says meekly, “I’m afraid I am. Sometimes I can be saucy.”

Fellow resident Joan LeBlanc says other residents adore Cann.

“She’s so obliging to everybody. She’s just a sweetheart and has such quick wit.”  

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