Everyone’s got a type. No surprise, “firefighter” is that type for many, even West Vancouver centenarian Maud Hill.
A small contingent of West Vancouver Fire & Rescue members serenaded Hill with a round of Happy Birthday to celebrate her 100th on Tuesday.
Hill’s daughter Giselle Portenier said she marched into the local fire hall with a box of Tim Hortons doughnuts the day before and made her pitch.
“I rang the bell, and they opened the door and I said, ‘Hi there, I’m here to bribe you. Can I come in?” she said. “I explained to them that my mother is turning 100 and that she has not many joys in her life but she really loves watching TV and seeing a lot of good looking guys on the television. Every couple of minutes, my mother will say ‘There’s a good looking guy.’”
As a rule, firefighters are more concerned with fires than flattery, but they made an exception for the elder citizen.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday, as Hill and her family were celebrating, a bright red fire truck rolled up outside Amica West Vancouver, the long-term care home where she lives, and sang to her.
Hill was totally surprised, at first, but after, her response was somewhat expected, Portenier said.
“She loved it. She said ‘That’s a bunch of good looking guys,’ and ‘I wish they could have stayed longer.’”
While there is no West Vancouver “fire choir,” assistant fire chief Mike Hodges said, on some very rare occasions, they’ll take a moment away from their important work.
“We’re always there to support our community. We usually don’t do things like this, but it’s not every day that a West Vancouver resident turns 100,” he said.
As a new centenarian, Hill also received letters of congratulations from the premier, prime minister and Governor General, in among more than 120 cards from friends, family and well-wishers in 30 countries. The local mail carrier delivered them all at once.
“He was hilarious and thanked her for single-handedly keeping the post office alive,” Portenier said.
Hill grew up in Sweden and left for Switzerland after the Second World War where she started a family and a children’s clothing empire. She later moved to South America with her children where she remarried a “Latin lover 20 years her junior,” Portenier said.
Eventually they settled in Canada.