Texting at 102 years of age

Summerland senior enjoys communications technology from the digital age

By Douglas Paton

When Ellie Pattison was about five years old, her family got their first telephone.

It was an old hand-crank unit and, because they were on party line that they shared with about 34 other households, they had to listen for a very specific ring that told her family someone was trying to call them.

Ellie turned 102 this past week on Saturday, June 24, and even though a lot has changed about the telephone in the last 97 years, she has managed to stay up to date with the technology changes and has taken to texting people like she was born in the digital age.

“It’s a way to keep connected with family,” she said. “It’s very handy.”

The main advantage to texting is that Ellie has become hard of hearing and talking on the phone was difficult. Texting has taken away all of the frustration that comes with trying to communicate with people when you can’t hear.

Ellie Pattison grew up on a farm in Emo, Ontario, a small town on the Rainy River just across from the Minnesota border. They didn’t have a TV or radio growing up and all their travel was either done by bicycle or horse and buggy. They didn’t get a car until Ellie’s brother bought one. Even then, Ellie continued to ride her bike everywhere.

Eventually, as happens, Ellie got married and had four children, Lyla, Wanye, Evveret and Alice. As time passed, she followed them west to Alberta. She now has six grandkids and nine great grandkids ranging in ages from 27 to three and is able to keep in touch with them using her iPhone.

Ellie travelled a lot with her family visiting places like Florida and Antigua and 10 trips to Hawaii. She even made a trip to Summerland later in her life and wonderful little town that she wanted to call home.

“I came here to visit a friend,” she said, “and I fell in love with Summerland.”

It was the perfect place to settle down. Unlike where she was living in Alberta at the time, Summerland had everything. It had a library and a hospital and all the amenities she needed right there. She didn’t have to go to another town to visit the doctor, like she used to.

In 2008 Ellie moved in to the Summerland Seniors Village and is so full of life and energy that you’d never know she was 102.

Ellie also isn’t the only member of her family to live to 100. Her brother also lived to be 102.

Ellie spent her birthday with her son Wayne and her daughter Lyla, who are visiting from Vancouver and Alberta, respectively. And, she even had a little celebration with cake and ice cream at Summerland Seniors Village. It was a wonderful little get together and so much fun to watch as people come up and wished her a happy birthday.

It seemed like a fun day with friends and family.

The best part of the day, at least from my perspective, happened not long after I left the celebrations.

My phone lit up with a thank you message from Ellie, complete with emojis.