The economy is the biggest change says SL centenarian

Pearl Lorentzen

Lakeside Leader

When someone has lived a hundred years, a lot changes. 

For 100-year-old, Alexandra ‘Senny’ Fedorus, the economy is the biggest one. 

“When I worked for $10 a month, it was good wages,” she says. “And now they get $15 an hour. The change is unbelievable.”

Back in the day, “when you were poor, it was nicer living than now,” she adds. “We appreciated every little thing in life.”

Alexandra ‘Senny’ Fedorus with her letter from Queen Elizabeth congratulating her on turning 100.

The way people grieve has also changed. When Senny was younger, if someone died, their mother couldn’t go to dances or other fun events for a whole year and a father for six months. 

“There was no arguing over religion,” says Senny. “My parents were Christians and we followed them.”

Senny was born in Glendon, which is northwest of St. Paul, Alberta. Her parents John and Anna Kryzanowski met and married in Ukraine. 

“Dad came first and then my mom later with a boy and two daughters,” says Senny.

Born on July 8, 1921, Senny was one of eight children. She’s the only one still alive. 

“I didn’t know a word of English when I started school,” says Senny. “I was eight.

“You had to go to 16 in those days,” she adds. 

Senny went to school in a two-room schoolhouse. The one room had Grades 1 to 4 and the other Grades 5 to 9. Senny’s favourite memories of school had to do with sports – basketball and scrub, which is what they called baseball. Also, hopscotch. 

Sports are still important to Senny. 

“She watched her boys play ball all the time,” says Penny Fedorus, one of her daughters-in-law. 

In Widewater, Slave Lake, and Kinuso, Senny curled on “natural ice.” This included making an eighth so her daughters and daughter-in-laws could have two teams. 

She was very good at throwing, says Penny.

Also, Senny has been an Edmonton Oilers’ fan since the team was founded in 1972.  

Senny still plays crib. 

“I have a hard time seeing, but I still manage,” she says. 

Senny is no stranger to hard work. She still does her own laundry. 

“The machine washes, I just guide it,” she says. 

Senny learned how to work hard on the farm when she was a child. They grew everything from grain to chickens to turkeys and milk cows. 

“When I finished school, I worked several places for $10 a month,” says Senny. “My job was work in the house – cooking, laundry, and cleaning.”

On the groom’s side (left), Senny and her late husband Alex ‘Alec’ Fedorus at their late son Albert’s wedding. Senny and Alec didn’t have any pictures taken at their wedding. Senny has photos from her children’s, grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s weddings in her room at Vanderwell Heritage Place.

Senny’s jobs were on farms in the St. Paul area. She doesn’t remember exactly when she met her husband Alex ‘Alec’ Fedorus, but he was from another Ukrainian-Canadian family in a neighbouring farming community called Flatlake. They met and married before World War Two. 

“We didn’t have a wedding picture taken,” says Senny. They couldn’t afford one, but now people take too many pictures, she adds. 

During the war, Alec served as a private in the Canadian Armed Forces. He didn’t go overseas. He was conscripted in 1939 and discharged in 1942. 

After the war, Senny and Alec moved to Widewater with three sons. The other two sons and two daughters were born afterward. 

Senny and Alec moved to Widewater to mink ranch.

“It was four acres of land,” says Sunny. “It wasn’t a big farm or anything. There was mink farms from Widewater to Canyon and way up to Faust.”

“It was hard work,” says Senny. At first, there was good money in mink farming, but by the late 1970s the price of furs was down. 

Before they sold all the mink, Senny got a mink hat and coat. All of the daughters and daughters-in-law got a mink hat. 

“When my husband died, he’d retired a couple of years,” says Senny. Alec died in 1992. 

Fedorus with her six surviving children at her 100th birthday party. Fedorus had seven children total.

From 1971 to 1989, Senny worked at the Slave Lake General Hospital in housekeeping, the kitchen, and laundry. 

“Those were the good old days,” says Senny. “That’s how come I know so many people.”

In September 2001, Senny sold the home in Widewater and moved into Vanderwell Heritage Place (aka. the lodge). 

She’s lived in the lodge longer than anyone else, says Penny Fedorus, Senny’s daughter-in-law. 

One of Senny’s five sons has passed away. Her other six children and their spouses were at Senny’s 100th birthday party. Senny has 18 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren. Senny’s children gave her a bouquet of 100 roses. Vanderwell Heritage Place where Senny lives also held a party.