105: The New 85 Westmounter Lucille Pacaud

By Alan Hustak on August 19, 2012

Lucille Pacaud joins an exclusive club next Monday (Aug 27) when she celebrates her 105th birthday. Only about  100 women in Quebec have reached that age. Not many of them who have are  as alert as the woman affectionately known to her friends as  “Auntie Lou. “It’s a hell of a nuisance,” she said about her birthday as she thumbed through  some letters that she wrote in 1926 which she hadn’t seen in years.  “I am a little bit  frightened and  amazed  that have outlived all the friends of my generation. There is so much to remember and so much to forget.”   The secret to living so long she says, is to “walk, to keep walking everyday.” Pacaud retired from her job as a volunteer at the Montreal General Hospital six years ago shortly after she moved into Fulford House.

Lucille_Pacaud.jpgFrail, but alert and determined,  she still walks to the post office around the corner, and still goes out to her athletic club and restaurants  from time to time. “I never noticed growing older, I really forgot how old I am,” she says. There will be letters from the queen, the prime minister, and a several parties to marc the occasion, and her local MP, Marc Garneau will drop by to wish her a happy birthday.  “Everyone makes such a big fuss about it, but you just keep waking up,” she says. “ It’s not that you get old, it’s that the circumstances around you keep changing. You don’t lose interest in what is going on around you, but those around you lose interest in you. Things fall away. Things change and you can’t keep up.”

Wilfrid Laurier was prime minister when Henriette Lucille Eveline Pacaud was born on August 27, 1907. Her grandfather, Georges Jérémie Pacaud, financed Laurier’s first election campaign.  “We still have the bills to prove it,” she says dryly. She can trace her ancestry through her mother to the French royal family as she is a descendent of  Comte Robert Dreux, Baron d’Esneval, the fifth son of Louis VI of France. Lou was born into a wealthy family, but her father, an award winning playwright and businessman, lost everything during The Depression. After his death, Lou went to work at Dominon Textiles to support herself. She never married. She retired in 1972 then volunteered at the Montreal General Hospital until the age of 102.

She continues to organize bridge tournaments for the ladies at Fulford House.  Although she had to be hospitalized overnight because of a nosebleed two weeks ago she remains in reasonably good health for her age.  “I don’t want to live too many more years,” she says candidly. “You can only play so much bridge in a lifetime.  I’m not afraid of leaving. When it happens, I imagine death will be as comfortable as sinking into a soft bed.”

Lucille_Pacaud_young.jpg 

Lucille in 1920.

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