104 candles light a flame for Torquay history
MARGARET Ganly celebrated her 104th birthday at her Torquay home on Sunday – the 128-year-old property she inherited from her aunt in the 50s.
Though Margaret’s age is a milestone in its own right, it’s the rich history and fascinating tale behind her postal address that continues to astonish people.
Unbeknown to many, Margaret lives in the refurbished deckhouse of the Joseph H. Scammell, a Canadian-built ship that wrecked at Point Danger on May 7, 1891.
Her grandfather, William Pride, purchased the Scammell soon after he heard of its location.
Being the father of 12 children – including Margaret’s mother – inspired William to buy the vessel and transform it into a holiday house for his growing family in the heart of the Surf Coast.
Margaret’s daughter, Carleen, said her mother has been visiting Torquay since she was born in 1915.
“It (the house) has been central to family life since 1891 and is still my mother’s home,” said Carleen.
“She’s been the custodian of that house since the 70s. Her mother was pregnant with her when she first began visiting Torquay.”
Margaret’s father died in World War I two years after her birth.
“He died at the beginning of 1917 and was buried in France (Dernancourt). My mother had a brother, Harold, and her father never saw his son. He (Harold) was born after he went to France.”
Despite losing her father at such a young age, Margaret enjoyed growing up by her mother’s side in a busy household filled with aunts, uncles, cousins and countless trips to Torquay Front Beach.
In 1973, Margaret and husband John moved into the house and made it a home, adding a modern kitchen and bathroom.
Carleen paused before she found the words to accurately describe her mother’s character. She landed on “energetic” and “funny”.
“Mum’s as bright as a button. She’s in the Australian Book of Records as the oldest golfer in Australia. She only stopped playing about four years ago,” Carleen said.
“My mother was also an avid writer. She wrote many stories and poems about the Scammell being wrecked and the Christmases she spent there as a child.”
She may be 104, but Margaret remains the jovial and sharp woman she’s become affectionately known for around the 3228 community.