One of Canada's oldest: Windsor's Gertruda Gorecka celebrates 112th birthday

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One of Canada’s oldest living residents celebrated her 112th birthday in Windsor this weekend.

On Sunday, family and friends of Gertruda Gorecka congratulated the supercentenarian — likely the city’s oldest-ever inhabitant — on her longevity during a party at the home she shares with her lone child and grandson.

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“People ask, ‘What is the secret?’ I think it may be that she was always smiling,” daughter Halina Rozalska said of her mother, who is no longer able to speak. “She never complained.”

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Gorecka lived most of her life in her homeland of Poland, only moving from the city of Szczecin to Windsor at age 91 to be with Rozalska following a hip surgery. She celebrated her 100th birthday with the Polish community in Windsor.

Gertuda Gorecka historic photo
Gertruda Gorecka (left), who celebrated her 112th birthday in Windsor on Nov. 12, 2023, is seen in Poland in this undated photo with sisters Helena (centre left), Anastrazja (centre right), and Marta. Photo by Courtesy of Helina Rozalska

In her younger years, she worked as a seamstress and had a passion for sewing costumes for a local theatre. She loved to play harmonica and continued to do so until a few years ago.

Gorecka, whose nickname is “Trunia,” was born in what is now Keblowo, Poland. She lived through the Second World War and Nazi Germany’s occupation of Poland, though she didn’t talk about those days much, her family said.

She never owned a car and loved to walk long distances, even in old age, Rozalska said. In Poland, she attended a church far from her home so she could enjoy the stroll.

“Even if she had a pain, I remember she would walk,” Rozalska said. “Usually when people have a pain in their leg, they are sitting. She said, ‘We are going for a walk. I have pain anyway,’ and we would walk and she would feel better.”

According to a list of Canadian supercentenarians on Wikipedia, Gorecka is the third-oldest person alive in Canada and the second-oldest in Ontario.

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Polish pin on Gertruda Gorecka
Sister Maria Lange from Holy Trinity Church pins a ribbon recognizing Poland’s independence onto Windsor’s Gertruda Gorecka on her 112th birthday on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. Photo by Taylor Campbell /Windsor Star

Though she’s had a few health scares, Gorecka is a survivor, Rozalska said. At age 77, she defeated cancer. At age 94, she underwent surgery for gallstones.

Rozalska said her mother has a better blood pressure reading at age 112 than she does at 74. Gorecka takes no medications.

Over the last few years, dementia has caused Gorecka to decline. She is now non-verbal and uses a wheelchair, though both her daughter and grandson agree she remains strong.

“She’s great. She was the best,” said grandson Bart. “Whenever I went to Poland to visit her, she was very generous. She treated me the best anyone could ever treat anyone.”

“She ate whatever she wanted. She never drank or anything like that, but she never really paid much attention to her diet — it’s just good genes, I guess.

“If you want the secret of a long life, I don’t think there is one. But I can tell you my grandmother is always positive.”

Asked to reflect on her childhood being raised by Gorecka, Halina held back tears.

“She was a very good mother,” she said. “I always said she deserved this long life.”

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