Arlene Adolf was born at 12:25 a.m. on July 1, 1967, just twenty-five minutes into Canada’s centennial year.
She was the first baby in B.C. born in Canada’s second century, making the moment of her birth all the more special for her parents.
“My mum used to tell me that on the thirtieth of June, 50 years ago today, she was out on our sun deck around dinner time, and the neighbours said, ‘You’re still here!’ And she said, ‘Yeah, still here,’” said Arlene.
“I was due on June 30,” she said. “I was twenty minutes late, and my mum always said that it was the best twenty minute wait, because now they had a centennial baby.”
Being B.C.’s centennial baby came with its own perks. The Adolfs received a colour T.V. from Cablevision – which was “a pretty big deal, back then,” according to Arlene. They also received a clock radio, a jolly jumper, a baby carriage and 100 quarts of milk.
Growing up, Arlene’s birthday was always special.
“For years and years when I was little, they told me all the celebrations and the fireworks were for me. So until I was about five or six years old, I actually believed that,” she said, laughing.
“We grew up boating, so we spend many Canada Days out on the water and we’d watch all the big fireworks, and they’d tell me, ‘That’s for you! Happy birthday!”
Arlene wasn’t too broken up when she found it out the celebrations weren’t all for her. “It made my birthday even more special, because now I shared it with Canada,” she said.
It helped that she never had to go to school on her birthday, too.
“It makes me pretty proud though. I get really emotional on Canada Day. I think it’s because I see so many people — it’s amazing how everybody celebrates, especially this year.”
Arlene, who lives in Cloverdale with her husband, Loney, and her 16-year-old son Ryan, has spent many of her Canada Days at the fairgrounds, taking in the celebrations there.
Their home in Cloverdale is so close to the park that they can watch the annual fireworks from their cul-de-sac, which they do whenever they can.
But if you ask her what her favourite Canada Day was, Arlene will tell you it was the day she became Arlene Beitel when she was married on July 1, 2000.
“Loney [her husband] never forgets,” she said, laughing. “My birthday, our anniversary, or how many years we’ve been married, because we got married in the year 2000.”
The wedding date fell into place. “It wasn’t planned,” she explained. “We were just looking to get married on a long weekend so our friends could join us.”
For this year’s Canada Day, birthday and anniversary celebrations, the Beitels will be at the North Shore in Vancouver, close to where Arlene grew up, as her son Ryan is playing in a baseball tournament for the Langley Blaze.
After that, they’ll return to Cloverdale to catch the end of the celebrations at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre.