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Dolly WinstonBy MYRON LOVE On Friday, January 29th, Dolly Winston turned 105. To celebrate the occasion, the staff at the Fred Douglas Lodge – where she has been living for the past 16 months – threw her a party which was attended by her family and several dignitaries, including Mayor Brian Bowman and City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan.


“The years have flown by,” says Winston, who may be Winnipeg’s oldest Jewish resident. “Thank God, I am still feeling pretty well.”
The birthday girl attributes her long life in part to a lifetime of walking – starting as a teenager walking from her home on Pritchard and Salter across the Salter Bridge to work downtown – she says that she couldn’t afford the five cent streetcar fare – and continuing in later life regularly walking five or six times around Kildonan Park. In more recent years, she would walk the halls at Amber Meadow Retirement Home, where she was living until moving to Fred Douglas.
The former Dolly Gaber was born in 1911 to Ben and Rachel Gaber, who had come to Winnipeg from Kiev in the early 1900s. She left school (William Whyte) at the age of 13 to go to work to help support the family. For several years, she worked for W. Cohen, a furrier on Portage Avenue across from the Bay. Her specialty was sewing the linings into the fur coats.
“I earned $7 a day,” she recalled.
She well remembers her first car ride. “My older brother Murray (she also had two sisters, Sarah Koven and Goldie Nowensky, who have predeceased her along with Murray), bought his first car. “We were all so excited,” she says. “We all piled into the back – three of us on each other’s laps to go for a ride.”
Dolly met her husband Ben through work. He also worked in the fur industry downtown. The couple got married in 1928.
“I was 17,” she says. “We eloped.”
The newlyweds first set up house in a basement suite in the Baltic Apartments on Magnus. They later moved to a house on Atlantic Avenue where they lived for many years.
As with most people in that era, the early married years were tough. Money would have been tight -  and this was before modern appliances. Dolly remembers washing clothes by boiling water on the wood stove and using a scrub board to scrub the clothes over two kitchen chairs put back together.
“It was exciting getting my first washing machine,” she says. “My two boys were always getting their clothes black playing outside.”
Dolly and Ben were the parents of six children. Sadly, five have predeceased Dolly. One daughter, Phyllis, passed away from pneumonia at 14 months. Arnold, Jack, Sheila and Bernice all suffered from cancer. The Winstons’ only surviving daughter, Elaine Yukelis, is the youngest.
“My mother was 42 when I was born,” Yukelis says. “My mother was pregnant when my oldest brother, Arnold, was getting married.”
Dolly Winston stopped working outside the home when she and Ben began their family. Over the years though, she did piece work for Ben at home. In later years, she helped out her daughter and son-in-law, Sheila and Dan Mamott, at their candy store – The Candy Castle – in the Maples and helped look after her grandchildren.
Dolly and Ben moved to Garden City in 1959 and later, in 1967, to a suite at the Garden Towers. Ben passed away 18 years ago. Dolly moved into Amber Meadow in 2008.
Although she is having problems with her vision and hearing and uses a walker now, Dolly Winston’s mind is still pretty good. She participates as much as she can in Fred Douglas Lodge activities. And her daughter Elaine visits several times a week.
“I have no regrets,” she says. “I still feel good and I am happy at the Fred Douglas Lodge. They treat me very well here.”