When Marjorie Campbell first visited Summerland, she was an 18-year-old bride on her honeymoon.
Earlier this year, at the age of 95, she was one of two women named most senior at the Pioneer Tea, hosted by the Rotary Club.
Campbell describes herself as a “homestead kid.” Born in Alberta, she said she weighed “just less than three pounds” at birth. She had three brothers and two sisters and recalls having everything she needed growing up.
“There was no real depression on the farm,” explained Campbell. “You’ve got eggs, you’ve got milk and you’ve got fruit, even though it was only saskatoons and blueberries.”
It was at a pie social and dance that she met her husband.
“Loyle had his eye on somebody else and bid on her pie, but he didn’t get it. I think my pie was probably the last, so he had to take mine,” Campbell said. “One thing I could do was dance. Once I had a dance with him I had him hooked.”
After the couple married, they visited Summerland. Upon seeing the beauty of the flowers growing along the lakeshore, Campbell thought she was in California, but was told this was the Okanagan Valley.
“I liked the place so well that I said, this is where I’m going to live for the rest of my life,” she explained. “We bought four and a half acres for $450. It was less than a block from town.”
Campbell got a job picking up prunings and her husband, who was a carpenter, went to work in Vernon building army barracks.
An old hay shed on the property had been turned into their home, but unfortunately the tar paper building caught fire during a hot spell of weather and burned to the ground. Neighbours came to help fight the blaze, but the house could not be saved.
The community rallied together to assist them and they soon rebuilt.
Years later they subdivided the property, but their house still stands in Campbell Crescent to this day.
Together, the couple raised two sons and a daughter of their own and one adopted girl.
If asked what the highlight of her life was, Campbell would say it was children.
“I raised a whole flock of children,” she said.
While women went to work in the canneries and packing houses, Campbell took care of their little ones.
It would seem that Campbell had a special way with children, by a story she related about a 10-year-old boy.
One day as she walked home from town, her arms laden down with grocery bags, the young lad called her a derogatory name.
Rather than reacting with anger, Campbell said to him, “If I had a little boy like you, he’d come and help me carry my groceries.”
The boy responded willingly and came to Campbell’s aid. Afterwards, she treated him to hot chocolate and home baked goodies.
As a result of this interaction, Campbell said she and the young man remained friends for life.
Silver Lake Camp was another place where Campbell spent time overseeing children, as they learned to swim and canoe.
She referred to herself as the alarm person, because she would blow a whistle if any of the children were not following the rules or were in some kind of trouble.
Once her youngest child was in school, Campbell went to work at the Summerland Hospital, scrubbing floors.
She still remembers with pride that during an accreditation process, it was said that the housekeeping could not have been done any better and that she was to be commended for her work.
After her retirement, she joined several different lodges in town, including the Orange, the Eagles and the Rebekahs, working to raise money for different organizations.
Today, a widow, Campbell lives happily at the Summerland Seniors Village. She has 13 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
She plans on living until she is 99 years of age, in order to celebrate her oldest son’s 50th wedding anniversary.
Campbell still loves Summerland as much as she did when she first arrived here almost 78 years ago.
“There’s no place in the world like Summerland,” she said.