More than 70 family members converged on the Ponoka Legion to celebrate Phyllis Carmichael’s (seated in the middle) 90th birthday celebration. Carmichael and her siblings were all raised in Ponoka for many years.

More than 70 family members converged on the Ponoka Legion to celebrate Phyllis Carmichael’s (seated in the middle) 90th birthday celebration. Carmichael and her siblings were all raised in Ponoka for many years.

Milestone birthday celebration reconnects family

“There’s always been keepers of the family history.” Beverly Leech

More than 70 family members converged on the Ponoka Legion, July 20 to celebrate the 90th birthday party of Phyllis Carmichael.

Planning for the celebration started in October and it was Carmichael herself that used her 1946 manual typewriter to draft and send out the invitations.

“I had a really good response,” said Carmichael. “The majority of the people here are my nieces, nephews and their partners.”

All 32 cousins confirmed their attendance of the celebration, which brought family members from all over Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

“As you can see, there’s lots of people here,” Carmichael said proudly.

Carmichael’s parents originally settled in Ponoka in the early 1900s under the name of Donaghy and many of the family members still live in the area. Others have since moved to different provinces but this was a joyous excuse for family to reunite.

A key feature of the celebration was printed posters of family trees of the grandparents, great grandparents and beyond. Beverly Leech, Carmichael’s niece, used the Apple software My Family Tree to build the posters.

She said she originally had 176 people on the chart, but with help from family’s archive book, curated by Carmichael, Leach was able to increase the number to 570. Leech has seven generations on one tree dating back to the 1700s in Scotland and Ireland.

“I went back to five generations from my grandparents,” Leech stated.

“There’s always been keepers of the family history,” she added.

Without the family tree book, Leech said there would not have been any way to track everyone’s names. She says in the old days if a family’s child died at a young age, parents would give subsequent children the same name.

Maureen Donaghy, another niece of Carmichael, said the experience was well received. “I haven’t seen some of these people since I was a teenager.”

A special lunch and dessert was prepared by the Ladies Auxiliary and Carmichael took time to recognize their efforts during the banquet.

“The ladies of the Legion have been very helpful,” she stated.

Carmichael’s brother, Harold Donaghy, celebrated his 90th birthday celebration at the same location three years ago.