"I've experienced many hardships in the years I've been here. When one has a husband, those hardships are less difficult to deal with. I was married in 1932, before I was 20 years old, and widowed in 1948. My oldest son was 10 years old when my husband died, my youngest son was seven. I didn't have a cent when my husband died but I never bothered the government for money. I didn't take welfare and there was no such thing as a widow's pension. I couldn't read or write. I took a job as a house-keeper for the people who owned the mill where my husband had worked. I learned quickly and I worked hard. I made 50 cents an hour for three hours of work a day. I bought cows and people bought milk from me. Life was hard but I always remained happy. My sons and I all worked hard. We lived on very little money. My oldest son, Wally, who became a Supreme Court judge, bought his first suit when he received his BA. He didn't buy a car until he passed law school. All those years he took the bus to school. I moved from Vancouver Island to live with my oldest son in 1978. For a year and a half now I've been living on my own in an apartment. My sons visit me often and I am happy.
This interview originally appeared in the April/May 1996 edition of **Mehfil Magazine.**
Gurdial Kaur Oppal arrived in Canada from India in 1934. For 28 years, she lived in Duncan, B.C., before moving to New Westminster, where she’s lived since 1999. Mrs. Oppal turned 100 years old this November.