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Centenarians celebrate 101 years with Knox United Church

The Knox United Church celebrated its 101st anniversary on Saturday with three ladies who have 301 years of memories between them. Bea Dezell, 102, Ellen Adams, 100, and Bessie Greig who turns 100 on Oct.

The Knox United Church celebrated its 101st anniversary on Saturday with three ladies who have 301 years of memories between them.

Bea Dezell, 102, Ellen Adams, 100, and Bessie Greig who turns 100 on Oct. 23 were the guests of honour at a spring tea party thrown by the church congregation.

"I've been attending the church ever since we came here [Prince George], which was in 1946," Dezell said. "There wasn't a great deal of people back then. I never thought it would grow the way it did."

Dezell said her husband worked in construction and they moved from Vancouver to Williams Lake, Quesnel and Wells following the work before settling in Prince George.

"Wells was booming at that time, the mines were going great guns," she said. "[But] I have lots of good memories from Prince George."

Adams moved to Prince George in 1947, from White Fox, Sask. She started attended Knox United Church in 1949.

"My husband and our family came out with the Rustad brothers," she said. "He managed the Red & White store in White Fox. He did all their office work for the [saw]mill."

Adams said she remembers the town of Prince George still had wooden sidewalks when they arrived. If you wanted to travel anywhere, you had to take the train to Jasper first, she said.

"The army was building all the houses for the veterans," she added. "Nobody locked their doors. It was a different time."

Asked if she expected she'd still be in Prince George 53 years later, Adams said "I didn't expect to be, but I'm sure glad to be here."

Greig is a newcomer to Prince George, having arrived 16 years ago.

"I opened the thrift shop in the Anglican Church 16 years ago. I'm still in my own place, doing my volunteer work," she said. "I can't sit around and watch TV. I do all my own housework, baking and help with the church. It keeps me going."

Greig was born in Sheffield, England, but came to Vancouver at the age of five. She spent most of her life in Vancouver before moving to Vernon with her husband to retire.

Her husband passed away in 1991.

The Knox United Church, along with its three senior congregation members, predate the incorporation of Prince George.

Knox United, which dates to 1910, was known as Knox Presbyterian Church until 1925 when the United Church of Canada was born from a union of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches.

Knox United, which is part of the city's heritage tour, still has the original Central Fort George church bell sitting in its yard which is rung each Sunday to call the people to church.

As the oldest structure in the city, it received the 2010 Heritage Places Award given by the city's Heritage Commission.

Knox United was built in its present location in 1922 with a 40-foot tower, seating for 280, a choir space for 25 and a large main entrance. In 1965 the first pipe organ, costing $9,000 and featuring 350 pipes, was installed.

The church is planning a series of events to celebrate 101 years throughout the year.

For more information about coming events, call 250-564-7822 or e-mail office@knoxucpg.ca.