Three centenarians under the same roof

In Saint-Eustache, a residence has not one, not two, but three centenarians.


Posted at 1:32 a.m.

Updated at 5:00 a.m.

Few people on the cusp of fifty can boast of having a grandparent still alive.

“It’s quite special!” », exclaims Guylaine Laliberté, granddaughter of Florence Beaupré. At 105 years old, her grandmother is the dean of Résidence Chénier, in Saint-Eustache.

Impressive, you say? There is more. Centenarians like her, the establishment has three out of less than 100 residents.

“Centenarians happen in residences. Three at the same time in the same residence, I have never had the chance to see that,” underlines its owner Bilal Khoder, who owns around ten residences.

Denise Ménard is the latest to join the club. It was precisely on the occasion of its anniversary that the establishment opened its doors to the media, on a recent afternoon in June.

Slightly hunched over in her chair, she posed in front of the cameras, her son with a head as white as her on her arm. “I never thought I’d make it this far!” », she exclaims, no longer knowing what to do with the bouquets of flowers and greeting cards piling up on her frail knees.

Well dressed, the three stars of the day were seated side by side in the small cafeteria decorated with golden balloons.

Sitting between her cadets, Florence Beaupré absorbed the moment, a tear beading in the corner of her clear eyes. His deafness made communication difficult, his two sons took over in front of the admiring interlocutors.

The spitting image of their mother, they describe an active woman, curious about everything, who prefers to be with young people. “Well, 70-year-olds,” puts Robert Laliberté into perspective.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Florence Beaupré, 105 years old, with her sons Robert and Guy Laliberté

Born in 1918 in L’Ancienne-Lorette, Florence Beaupré grew up in a working-class family with nine brothers and sisters. She later settled in Montreal, where she married in 1942.

“I don’t know how much love there was between them,” wonders Guylaine Laliberté. But those were the times: “Life as a couple was not necessarily a choice. »

“Your grandfather chose me because I was deaf and I wouldn’t live to be old. He must be rolling over in his grave,” his grandmother even told him one day.

Even at an advanced age, she maintains most of her activities. She first traveled to Europe at age 86 and went camping until she was 102.

“She hasn’t taken medication for two years!” », wonders her granddaughter.

So what is his secret? Move daily? Eat healthy ?

“We’ll give it to you,” begins Robert Laliberté, lowering his voice. “She eats her steak almost raw,” he whispers in our ear with a knowing smile.

“His world is us”

There are more and more centenarians in Quebec. There were 3,200 in 2021, 78% of whom were women. According to projections, their number could jump to more than 44,400 in 2066.

“I don’t think there’s any big secret there…” says Denise Ménard. “I take it one day at a time. I try to keep myself busy. »

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Denise Ménard and her son Richard Richer

Born in 1924, she grew up in a family of six children in Verdun. She lived through the era of ration coupons.

“She lived in a building with three, four apartments. Her grandmother made soup and she went up to bring bowls to other families who were hungry,” says the partner of her son Richard Richer.

In 1945, she married the man who would remain the only man in her life. The couple settled in Longueuil, where they raised their two children.

“He was the love of his life, his Gérard,” says his son. He died a long time ago, at the age of 73.

After all these years, she still has a letter he wrote to her on a piece of birch bark while he was stationed in Newfoundland during the Second World War.

This is the reality of all centenarians. Grieving comes with the title. At 100 years old, Denise Ménard is the only survivor of her brothers and sisters, in addition to having lost her daughter.

“Today, his world is us. Her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren,” confides Richard Richer, casting a look full of tenderness towards her.

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