Celebration honors centenarians at M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center in Canandaigua

It was 1919 when Congress gave women the right to vote. Woodrow Wilson was president, World War I came to a close, and movies were silent. Rotary dial phones were a new invention, as was the pop-up toaster that used heated electrical coils.

That year, on another continent, Christine McDonald was born on Jan. 1, a New Year’s baby in Amsterdam where she spent the first four years of her life. McDonald, whose life took many paths that eventually led to Canandaigua, was one of a number of residents honored Monday at M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center as having reached the milestone of age 100 or more.

The guests of honor, all women, celebrated with family and friends while the event also recognized residents age 95 or older seated at a “kids’ table.” Entertainment included live music and a visit by the Canandaigua chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution — dressed as suffragettes who marked the period in their campaign for women’s right to vote. Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni also stopped by to congratulate the centenarians.

A slideshow featured photos of the honored ladies through the years, along with trivia to give a sense of the many things they have witnessed over the past century.

With her daughters Martelu McAuliffe and Sharyn McDonald by her side, Christine McDonald told how she arrived in America with her mother in 1923 through Ellis Island. She was four years old when she crossed through that New York Harbor gateway that saw millions of immigrants pass through over decades. Her father was a builder, and his construction work took the family all over New York state.

Christine was married in Canandaigua in 1946. She has always loved living in Canandaigua, she said, as it reminds her of her native land. The quiet, the change of seasons and memories of playing in the snow and eating ice cream as a little girl in Holland stay with her, she said.

Her daughters, filling in details of their mother’s life, told how their mom was an artist who had painted for many years and also started and ran her own businesses. The daughters reminded their mom of the diner she opened and operated for 14 years in Westport, on Lake Champlain. It was a novel design for a restaurant in its day, with open-beam construction, they said.

Christine McDonald recalled the hard work that went into running the business. “You had to be determined,” she said.

Her daughters also recalled their mother providing food and drink for the men working on construction of the I-87 Adirondack Northway. Their mother would fill a wagon with food and coffee, the sisters recalled.

Christine said she has always chosen to do for people and be with people. She has learned in her life that “there is no one way to do something,” she said. She sees herself as open-minded and is glad for that.

The centenarians honored Monday were: Agnes Dickens, Christine McDonald, Agnes Hoefler, Anita Packer and Mary Stanton. Stanton is the eldest, born in May of 1917.