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Evelyn Hubley leaves behind a century of stories to five generations

Fall River resident, 105, remembered for humour, tenacity and positive outlook

4 min read
old photo of woman in front of car
caption Evelyn Hubley is photographed standing in front of a car in Fall River in 1955. She had been married for almost 22 years.
Mark Hubley

Evelyn Monica Hubley survived the Halifax Explosion, the Great Depression, two world wars, and two pandemics. To her family and friends, she will always be “our queen.”

Evelyn died on Nov. 28. She leaves behind five generations with a century full of stories and a lasting imprint on the Fall River community.

Friends and family gathered on Saturday to celebrate a long-lived life.

two ladies having a conversation in a room full of people
caption Evelyn’s daughter Edna Barnes (left) speaking with loved ones at the funeral reception on Dec. 2.
Emma Naugle

“She’d be knocked down with things that would happen, and she’d just darn well get up and do it all over again,” said Edna Barnes, Evelyn’s daughter.

Evelyn was born in Halifax on Sept. 17, 1917, almost three months before the Halifax Explosion.

“She was our queen,” said Mary Johnson, Evelyn’s dear friend who spent every day of the last 10 years with her.

two people hugging behind a memorial
caption Friends and family of Evelyn Hubley gathered at the Atlantic Funeral Home in Lower Sackville.
Emma Naugle

On the morning of Dec. 6, 1917, the Halifax Explosion flattened the north end of the city, killing about 2,000 people. Her family was living on West Street.

Mark Hubley, Evelyn’s grandson, said she was in her crib and the blast blew out the window, covering Evelyn and the bedding.

Evelyn married at 16 to Herbert Hubley on Sept. 19, 1933, in Halifax.

They had five children, with one dying at a young age from meningitis. Their only surviving child is Barnes.

Herbert built a bungalow for them in 1936 in Seabright, but later had to move back to Halifax for the Second World War.

bungalow built in 1936
caption Evelyn’s husband Herbert Hubley built this bungalow in Seabright in 1936. The couple returned to Halifax for the Second World War.
Mark Hubley

They bought a summer home in 1947 in Fall River. They renovated it and moved in full-time after Herbert’s retirement in 1976. He died in 1987.

Friends and family said you could get so much history out of one conversation with her.

“She could have easily written a book,” said Jacqueline Youden, Evelyn’s home-care worker.

In fact, Evelyn wrote an article about a street in Halifax that she would never forget. It was included in a book, More Yarns Worth the Telling, which was co-written by the Friendly Group of Fall River, a senior’s group that she helped found in 1973.

hand written letter
caption Evelyn began writing about her life a few weeks before she died. She did not get to finish.
Mark Hubley

Johnson submitted information on Evelyn to Fall River Living magazine in 2020. A picture of her smiling face covers the front page.

“She said, ‘Who would’ve thought I’d be a cover girl at 102?’ ” said Nancy, a friend of the family, at Saturday’s service.

Johnson said Evelyn understood why the COVID-19 pandemic happened because of her experience with the Spanish flu. Her pregnant mother and baby sister both died from the virus.

“She was well versed in politics and everything that went on. If you wanted to know anything about the monarchy she could tell you,” said Johnson.

Evelyn lived to see Queen Elizabeth II reign for over 70 years. She saw the throne change over four times.

She had a Facebook account with 22 friends and would FaceTime relatives up until she died.

“She really didn’t miss a thing on TV. She knew everything that was going on overseas. She was keeping up to date with Ukraine war and was well-versed on all the wars,” said Johnson.

Her legacy

Evelyn’s sense of humour stuck with her right to the end. Grandson Jeff Barnes told a story on Saturday about a visit he paid to her at her nursing home residence. When he dropped her off, there was a problem.

“The car door had a recall on it, and it wouldn’t open. She had to do a cartwheel over the centre console to get out of the car. And she did it. As soon as she got over it, she started laughing,” said Jeff Barnes.

Lady smiling with a crown on her head
caption Evelyn Hubley celebrated her 105th birthday on Sept. 17.
Naomi Stewart

Johnson said she was even supposed to marry her boyfriend on her 105th birthday, but he chickened out. Johnson laughed and said it was just all fun and games.

“We had a lot of fun.”

Edna Barnes said that her mother would be remembered for her tenacity.

Evelyn’s niece, Naomi Stewart, said she’ll always remember the life lessons her aunt taught her.

“Life is like an ocean. You’re going to get hit with waves and you have to learn how to swim. Because there will be another one coming right behind it.”

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