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Publication: Globe and Mail, The add link
Issue: 17 April 2008, page L6
Title: CAROLINE JACOBSON (Lives Lived)
Web Link: link


Omnivorous reader, traveller, social democrat, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, great-aunt. Born Nov. 13, 1900, in Kirkwall, Scotland. Died Dec. 25, 2007, of old age in Thunder Bay, aged 107


April 17, 2008

The first of 13 children, Caroline moved to Canada in 1903 with parents Malcolm and Emily Watty and her baby sister.

Thanks to Ontario's Free Grants and Homestead Act, the family took up land in Dorion, Ont., a new settlement on the CPR line northeast of Thunder Bay.

Caroline thrived in this milieu. With only one year of formal education she taught herself to read. This she did avidly, later acquiring a vast library of books on biography, history, politics and geography.

At 18, she cut pulpwood for shipping to the mills. During a smallpox scare she moved at age 21 to Schreiber, Ont., a CPR divisional and crew-change point, where she replaced quarantined cooks and cleaners at the CPR's YMCA.

Qualified for a railway pass after one year's employment, Caroline took the train across Canada whenever possible.

She indulged her love of travel until age 95, with flights to Europe and Cuba and automobile journeys to both coasts. She learned to drive at 68 - and took a car maintenance course before getting her licence.

After her marriage in 1938 to Alvin (Jake) Jacobson, a railway conductor, Caroline continued working at the Y until her son Clarence was born.

The family moved to Port Arthur in the early 1940s, and Caroline gave birth to her second son, Douglas, who predeceased her in 1996. Jake died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1962.

Caroline was in on the planning of Castlegreen, one of Canada's earliest housing co-operatives, in Thunder Bay. Never missing a meeting or a chance to volunteer, she lived there from its opening in the 1970s with, later, daily attention from her son Clarence, until going into a nursing home at age l03.

She insisted that her daily "porridge" of oatmeal, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, blackstrap molasses and a whole bulb of garlic contributed to her longevity and to her freedom from arthritis, allergies, headaches and deafness.

But the main secret toher long life, she confessed, was that she never worried about anything.

Caroline had a passion for politics. She voted when first eligible and in every election thereafter. She was a life member of the CCF-NDP, attended conventions and worked in campaigns until she was 90.

Caroline once summed up her long life this way: "When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old I admire kind people."

Always smiling in spite of adversity, Caroline was a kind, calm person.

Ken and Jean Morrison are Caroline's friends, Clarence Jacobson is her son and Maxine Lorentson is her niece.