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Gardening keeps 102-year-old Victor Baker young

Victor Baker makes sure to do all of the work for his garden at the front of the Pleasantview Manor in Lewisporte.
Victor Baker makes sure to do all of the work for his garden at the front of the Pleasantview Manor in Lewisporte. - Nicholas Mercer

The residents of Pleasantview Manor in Lewisporte say Victor Baker can dance a jig better than any 25-year-old. 

The 102-year-old Victor Baker is the proud owner of this garden at the Pleasantview Manor retirement home in Lewisporte.
The 102-year-old Victor Baker is the proud owner of this garden at the Pleasantview Manor retirement home in Lewisporte.


If you spend a couple of minutes eyeing the garden adjacent to the front entrance, you’ll quickly come to conclusion the 102-year-old Baker – he says 102-and-a half – might be able to keep a garden better than people half his age as well. 
The man two years beyond a centenarian gets up most mornings, hauls on his long rubbers, pulls a rain jacket over his shoulders and tends to his garden. 
He’ll be there as early as 5:30 a.m. watering and weeding. He’ll start in the spring of the year and keep it going until he can’t grow anymore. 
He has been gardening for the last five years at Pleasantivew Manor. Before then, back problems prevented him from taking part in something he clearly enjoys. 
When his back started mending, Baker started getting outside again. Now, he’ll strap on a back brace to keep things in the right place. 
“It is beautiful for people coming,” said Baker. “Visitors like it and even the residents like it. 
“I like (the garden) myself.”  
Ivy Simmonds is one of the residents. The garden offers a pleasant view from the front perch and she is amazed that Baker is able to keep tending it at his age. 
“Ever since I’ve been living here, that garden has been beautiful and he is always at it,” she said.  
Admiring his garden from the front step, Baker makes mention of the shelter it gets from the building’s overhang and smiles thinking about the work it takes. 
“That is the perfect spot for it to grow,” he said. “I don’t have much power anymore, but I have the rest of it. 
“I manage to get the flowers in with a little help.” 
Originally from the Botwood area, keeping a garden has been a part of Baker’s life for as long as he can remember. 
He grew carrots, beets, parsnip and other vegetables as a boy. Whether he started with his mother or father, he wasn’t sure. 
All he knew was that when something needed to be done, you did it. There was no waiting around. 
“You just learned from experience,” he said. “You did everything. If there was something you needed to do, you did it.” 
The pride Baker takes in his garden shines through in every word he speaks. A smile lights up his weathered face whenever he mentions or tells a quick joke as he’s known to do. 
It’d be easy for people his age to spend the rest of their days basking in their golden years. They’ve earned that much after all. 
However, Baker is driven to keep his garden. It keeps him young as much as he strives to keep it beautiful. 
“It's great I can manage to come out in the morning and put some water on it,” he said. 

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