Grand Forks pioneer Mariana Bryant celebrates 100 years

A Grand Forks pioneer and long-time resident, Mariana Bryant, turned 100 recently.

Mariana Bryant at her 100th birthday celebration at Kelowna.

Mariana Bryant at her 100th birthday celebration at Kelowna.

The family of long-time Grand Forks resident Mariana Bryant gave her a 100th birthday party on May 26 in Kelowna. Friends and relatives came long distances to attend this wonderful celebration.

Marion, as she is known to most, has had a very full and eventful life. She was born in Grand Forks on May 17, 1913 to Giuseppe and Maria Rossi.

In 1921, the family moved to Italy and settled in the Udine region, which is in the north of Italy. There were no jobs for her father so at eight years old, Marion was working at small jobs to help the family.  At the age of 13 she was in Venice working as a cook and then went to Milan and cooked for a family. In the meantime, her father had gone to South America, worked and then went back to Canada.

In 1932, he sent for the family and they came back to the land that he had bought in the North Fork area.  The land needed to be cleared so Marion learned how to cut trees, pull stumps and then they had to clear it – it was a lot of long hours and hard work.

The latter part of 1933, resident Tom Fisher came up to the Rossi farm and asked for one of the girls to help out while his mother was away. The sisters told him that Marion could cook, so she went.

They liked her so much that they asked her to stay and help.  Marion and Tom Fisher were married in Colville, Wash. in April 1935 and they had three daughters: Myrtle Marie, who lives in California; Julia, who passed away in April 2009 and Linda, who lives in Vernon.

Marion and Tom worked very hard. They had cattle, did farming and had a small sawmill. Tom passed away in January of 1952. The farm and sawmill were sold and Marion, with her girls, moved to Grand Forks.

She had a house built and did most of the inside finishing herself and again had a large yard and garden to care for.  In 1956 she married Gordon Bryant. They enjoyed 36 years together before Gordon passed away in June of 1992.

She kept busy with her garden, caring for her siblings, playing bingo and crib with her many friends and relatives.  She moved to Kelowna in 2007 to be closer to her daughter and then in December 2012, she moved to Salmon Arm to be closer to her granddaughter.

If you ask Marion what she attributes this long life to, her immediate response is, “Hard work never hurt anyone.”  It is a motto that she lives by.

– Contributed by Myrtle McCormack