By Tiffany Williams
Ann Ferguson, affectionately known as Mrs. Bill, will be 92 years old in September and thinks she is very fortunate that she is still living in her own home and growing her own garden.
The grey-haired woman, sat looking at me as she told me her life adventures of Ponoka. She had her hair all brushed back neat and tidy, wearing wide glasses and she folded her hands neatly in her lap as she sat on a brown wooden chair with a flower pattern in her living room.
Ferguson is still very active in the community and drives around town to many different engagements. People often ask her what the secret of living a good life is and she has a simple but powerful message.
“I don’t have any secrets. I’ve been very blessed. I’m not going to be a rocking chair granny and God doesn’t want me yet,” said Ferguson. “The good Lord is in charge of our lives and that’s my only answer.”
She first moved to Ponoka from Winnipeg in 1928 after both of her parents had passed and lived with her grandmother Francis Beranek. Growing up she attended school at Climax until Grade 9 and worked odd jobs in the area.
She met her husband Bill at the Meniak store just outside of Ponoka. She went to get groceries for her grandmother and that is when she met Bill. They married Feb. 7, 1935 at St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Ponoka. After she married Bill they moved around a little and he entered the war. They started out as grain farmers in the Meniak area, in 1936 Bill worked at the Gainers Packing plant in Edmonton until the war was declared. He was in the RCAF from 1940 to ‘44. They were stationed in St.Thomas, ON and Mossbank, SK. Bill was also awarded the Canadian Services medal. During the war Ann helped knit socks and vests to send overseas.
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Once the war was over they came back to farm just east of Ponoka, grain and cattle. They also raised chickens and sold eggs.
“I love farming and the wide open spaces. We are farmers at heart,” said Ferguson.
She is very proud that her son Jim and his wife Marlene continue to farm grain to this day and help her whenever she needs it.
Her husband passed in 1968 due to health issues but she had promised him she would build a house in town and that’s just what she did. She moved into her two-bedroom bungalow house in 1971.
“I never have a dull moment and I like my house tidy as I have a lot of company and family,” said Ferguson.
The house is very well organized with a place for everything. She has many pictures of family on the walls and she is very proud of all of their accomplishments. She has her own garden with carrots and beets and other vegetables that she tends to herself as well as many flowers around her house.
She enjoys being active especially at her church St. Mary’s Anglican. She has helped out over the years at funeral teas, the ACW, gardening and visiting at the lodges. She also helps make all of the lunches for the stampede officials.
“I like to do for others what they can’t do. I like to take people for drives or have people over for visits. I just keep active there’s lots to do,” she said.
St. Mary’s member Melodie Helm says that she always has lots of energy and is always willing to help.
“She likes to keep busy it keeps her going,” said Helm. “If I have half her energy at 72 I will be doing great.”
Ferguson is known in town for making her pot scrapers that she makes herself and sells at the church bazaar, she donates all of her profits and keeps money only for her expenses. The scrapers are made from a stiff net that she ties together and it takes her 1.5 hours to make one. They are super for dishes and she notes that even the men like to use them.
She thinks that over the years there have been a lot of changes in Ponoka. She has seen many new buildings go up but she is quite happy here.
“I feel a little bad because I have lost so many friends. I’m older than them and I have lived a quiet but active life,” said Ferguson. “Some of my relatives say I make them tired just telling them what I do.”
Ferguson has one son, Jim who still lives in Ponoka and eight grandchildren. She had another daughter Joan who lives in Calgary and four grandchildren, all married and eight great-grandchildren.
She always stays busy with many clubs including the Eastside Ladies Birthday Club and visiting many people.
Through all of her years she has always calls Ponoka her home and she has found a secret that many people would like-stay active and she knows that she is well loved.
“I am very fortunate to have a lot of good friends and I know that because they always smile and give me hug.”