Christine Ffrench of Abbotsford celebrates her 100th birthday on Wednesday, April 22.

Christine Ffrench of Abbotsford celebrates her 100th birthday on Wednesday, April 22.

Abbotsford woman turns 100; party was planned in Hawaii

Christine Ffrench celebrates a century on April 22 while self-isolating

Christine Ffrench of Abbotsford was looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday on April 22 with a trip to Hawaii and a big party with friends and family. Instead she’s hunkering down like the rest of us.

Ffrench began life in Hamilton, Ont. She was born in her grandmother’s house to dad Leo Reise, a hockey player with the New York Rangers, and mom Christine.

The daughter was a middle child in a family of three. As a teen, Christine played baseball and did chores on her parents’ farm.

Along with many families in the area, they picked berries and canned the fruit. As a teen she also learned a skill she still practises to this day: sewing.

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Ffrench came to Abbotsford in 1946. A very social woman, she enjoyed spending time with friends and met her husband, Reg, there.

He was a giant-crane operator with some harrowing tales to tell, including the time the Kamloops Bridge collapsed under his crane. Reg passed away in 2006. The couple’s three children were born in Abbotsford.

For a time when the family was young, Christine worked part-time in a bank. She has been a bowler for 60 years and still walks every day.

Amazingly, she still sews constantly for Helping Hands. She has made many dresses and T-shirts for children in need; most times from patterns she has invented.

Christine has been an avid traveller for most of her life, and the trip to Hawaii was supposed to bring most of her family together to celebrate there.

Her family has grown over the years to include seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

And although none of her kids live in Abbotsford, they stay in close touch with their mom.

The hardest part of this quarantine time for her is not seeing her daughter who lives in Bellingham.

In the meantime, Ffrench is quick to say that she has had a good life and plans to live to at least 103.

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