Annette ‘Nettie’ Schlatter went for a ride on the Heron Grove tandem wheelchair bike Wednesday, June 12 to celebrate turning 104.
According to Heron Grove recreation and volunteer coordinator Chris Smith, the bike is just one of many modes of transportation that Annette has known over her lifetime.
Smith told The Morning Star that Annette was born in 1915 to a family with three sons and two daughters.
Her family name was Reiner and they lived at a homestead in Alberta, where she attended rural schools.
Smith said Annette remembers long walks through grain field tunnels and occasional encounters with bands of First Nations.
At the age of 16, she moved with her parents to Hines Creek, Alta., to start another homestead.
“Annette was a great help to them as they had no conveniences in the one room shack and water had to be carried uphill from the creek,” Smith said.
Back then, transportation was by horse, wagon or sleigh. Annette rode horseback to get supplies from town and pull roots from around the homestead.
“She loved her three years on the homestead, even carrying sick calves home from across the creek,” Smith said.
At 18, Annette’s parents insisted she go south to help a sibling who was having a baby. The move led to her employment at a dining room at the University of Alberta, where she met her future husband, Rudolph Schlatter. The two were married when she was 33.
Annette and Rudy lived in Calgary briefly where their only son, Terrence, was born. They moved to Tacoma, Washington, where Rudy was employed as a chef for 23 years, and then moved back to Alberta, where Rudy was employed in the oilfields as a chef. Work even took them to Resolute Bay in the Northwest Territories.
When they retired, the couple continued to live in Abbotsford as well as in Chilliwack, often snowbirding to Arizona and travelling.
Annette became a widow at 78. Smith said she remained active with church activities and keeping in touch with family on both sides of the border. She has nine great grandchildren.
She moved to the Okanagan area at 86, when she had a bad fall and came to recuperate with her niece in Lumby.
She then moved to Canterbury Court in Vernon where she resided for 12 years.
At 98, and needing a little more assistance, Smith said, she moved to a suite at Heron Grove.
“Annette has no answer as to how she has lived so long,” Smith said. “But gives all the credit to a gracious God, supportive family and friends, and now caring staff at this time of life.”