About 70 people drove past the home of Wilma Sim last Saturday. On the lawn were tables with photographs of her life, the backdrop a view of Howe Sound and its ferries, tugs and log booms.
It’s a view she’s used to but appears not to tire of. Sim has lived in two places since 1948 – a logging camp on Gambier Island and now on Thompson Road in Langdale where family and friends gathered on July 25, two days before her 100th birthday.
Sim may have stayed in place for more than 70 years, but she did move.
“I was busy,” Sim told Coast Reporter. “I don’t do much anymore. Then again, I’m a little older.”
The moving started before she was born. Her mother rode by horse and buggy the 20 kilometres to Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital where Sim was born, a year after the worst of the Spanish Flu was through its ravages.
Growing up on a homesteader farm on the Saanich Peninsula, Sim doesn’t recall her parents ever mentioning the epidemic. She does remember the strawberries she ate – one crop earned them enough for the year – and the horses, goats and chickens.
She remembers the lamp-lit home, too, before they built a more modern home. Until she was six years old, her family used an outhouse and gathered water from a well.
The bright teenager skipped two grades and returned to the hospital of her birth where she trained as a nurse. After graduating at 21, Sim moved to Vancouver with her sister to work at St. Vincent’s Hospital.
She was on the move yet again when she married her first husband, Walter Morrison. Their union forged a legacy for all Sunshine Coast residents.
Their first stops were at two logging camps in Johnstone Strait. Three years and three newborns later, the pair settled at Andys Bay on Gambier Island, where their fourth child in five years was born. While the children took a school boat to Granthams Landing, Sim worked as a medical aide and administrator at the logging camp. Morrison served as superintendent of the log sorting business.
The pair left a mark on the industry. According to Harbour & Shipping in 1952, Morrison was “so well known in coast logging circles as to need no further introduction,” while Sim was “referred to as the ‘most attractive First Aid man’ in any woods operation in British Columbia.”
They earned enough money to purchase an acreage in Roberts Creek, where they envisioned moving, and even building a golf course.
Sim couldn’t swim, but she could drive a boat and she would take it across the channel to Port Mellon, get in her car and make her way up coast to the Masonic Hall at Roberts Creek. There she attended meetings as part of the Order of the Eastern Star before heading back in the pitch dark.
“When you live around the water for a long time, you get used to that. I wouldn’t want to do it now, but it didn’t bother me back then,” she said.
Sim’s life at Andys Bay came to an end with the death of her husband in 1965. She moved with her children to the Langdale neighbourhood where she built the same house she lives in now.
As for the acreage in Roberts Creek – Sim held true to her vision for a golf course. The course became a community effort after Sim brought local businesses, friends and golfers together to launch the project.
“I always say it was my golf course because it was built on my property,” said Sim, who is a lifetime member of the Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club.
“I guess it’s turned into a pretty good golf course.”
The year 1969 was a momentous one. Not only did Sim cut the ribbon at the golf course opening ceremony, she also married her second husband, Bert, who installed a swimming pool at their house, where she finally learned to swim.
Members of the golf course dropped by last weekend to wish Sim well, as did members from her expansive extended family.
Her children say she has a sense of humour, and she’s stayed healthy thanks to a balanced diet, exercise, minimal drinking and a life without tobacco.
And despite bookmarking her life with two generation-defining pandemics, Sim said she doesn’t think about the past or future too much. Like a ball on a green, “I just let it roll.”