Len Hoon of Abbotsford celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 9.
He was born and raised on a homestead in Manitoba and moved to western Canada at the age of 21, settling in Abbotsford with his family to escape the long winters.
After a couple of years working at a smelter in Trail, he travelled to South Africa to study in the School of Mines in Johannesburg.
Len then joined the South African Navy and worked on Robin Island as a ships recorder. It was there that he met his wife of over 50 years, Eleanor, who was stationed in Johannesburg as a Canadian army nurse.
When the Second World War ended in 1945, the couple travelled back to Abbotsford and settled on a small farm on Marshall Road to raise their family.
Len took on odd jobs and then worked as head janitor at Abbotsford Junior secondary, followed by Alexander elementary.
Len and Eleanor loved gardening and they planted many trees, rhododendrons, azaleas and roses. Thousands of gladiolas followed, and Len became the “gladiola champion” of the Fraser Valley.
He then moved on to planting dahlias and continued to supply the whole neighbourhood with summer flowers.
The couple sold most of their property to a developer when their six children dwindled to just one living at home, but protected the forest behind the house for Hoon Park.
As of his birthday, Len has lived in the home for 70 years.
He attributes his longevity to a lifetime of healthy living on his farm and eating all of his own homegrown vegetables.