Stella Baker enjoys a moment with her dog at Ayre Manor.

Stella Baker enjoys a moment with her dog at Ayre Manor.

Stella Baker, 107, owes longevity to keeping busy

Sooke resident celebrates another birthday today at Ayre Manor

“You’re only as old as you feel” is a term we’ve heard for as long as time itself, but the reality is, it’s true.

Today, Stella Baker turns 107, making her the oldest Sookie (and possibly oldest Islander) around. The digits don’t mean much to her though.

“I don’t feel old. I just feel like myself,” Baker said with a faint smile on her face in her room at Ayre Manor.

Born in Innisfail, Alta. in 1909, Baker and her family moved to Victoria when she was two years old. For perspective, R.M.S. Titanic was laid down this year in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Losing her mother at age 13, Baker got busy working as a cleaner at Empress Cleaners in Victoria. Living on a goat farm, though, she also took joy in being around animals most of the time.

She enjoyed riding horses, and at one point, she had a pet deer, which she kept until the deer matured and grew horns; it was then donated to a nature preserve in Beacon Hill park.

The farm was a special place in Baker’s heart. It was home. It was family.

“She loved it at the goat farm,” recalled Tara Jensen, her great-granddaughter, adding that Baker always preferred drinking goat milk instead of water, as she believed the water would “make her stomach rusty.”

It was 50 years ago, when Baker and her husband built a house on Eustace Road, permanently making Sooke her home.

Baker was never one to stay still, though. After working as cleaner for many years, she retired at 65; but that wasn’t going to fly.

“She got bored, and went back to it for another 15 years,” Jensen said, adding that after she moved to Sooke, she continued travelling into town by bus, having never driven a car in her life.

Reno, Nev. was a constant travel destination, visiting her sister, Hilda. Baker had a taste for gambling. Every Saturday, she used to dance at the old Gorge pub in Victoria. She could drink anyone under the table.

Even at home, she kept busy. She collected soda pop bottles, crocheted, and at 70, she was climbing her apple tree constantly.

“She’d go as high as possible, because she used to say all the time that the good ones were at the top,” Jensen laughed.

Everyone in Sooke recognized Baker and her little Pomeranian, Sparky, so no doubt she is a dear part of what makes this town special.

When asked what her secret to living over 100 is, the truth is, it’s not so secret.

“You keep busy.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

Most Read