By RON FANFAIR
He has lived life to the fullest and he’s not finished yet.
William Julien was in fine fettle as he celebrated his 100th birthday with relatives and friends last Good Friday at Seven Oaks long-term care facility where he has resided since last December.R
The centenarian spent 41 years in Montreal before relocating to the Greater Toronto Area where he split his time in the last few years with Trinidad & Tobago.
Two years ago, he developed a kidney infection and was hospitalized for a few days.
“That was the first time he was ever admitted to a hospital,” said Trevor Isadore, one of Julien’s 11 children ranging in age from 53 to 78. “When he became a senior, he used a multivitamin tablet and baby aspirin daily. That’s it. He has been relatively healthy for all of those years.”
Vilma Tilbenny said her father has enjoyed every moment in his life.
“He’s very sociable and he was a ladies man who loved to dance,” she said. “He did the waltz, fox trot, quick step, cha cha and other dance forms with a great sense of rhythm and won many competitions.”
A product of Maraval in North Trinidad, Julien —also known as Mr. V. Jules and Jellico – taught at the boys school in his area and was a shoemaker and tram car ticket collector. Introduced in May 1895, the tram cars – which operated in Belmont and around the Savannah – replaced donkey carts which were the popular mode of transportation.
Julien had to contend with Arthur “Tramcar” Andrews – a flagman with Belmont’s Rising Sun steelband – who gained his sobriquet for hopping on moving rail vehicles and performing acrobatic stunts before hastily disembarking from the tramcars which were phased out in 1950 and supplanted by trolley buses.
“Mr. V. observed Tramcar’s moves and was able to prevent him from riding freely when he was working,” said Louise Long, a niece of Julien. “Andrews avoided boarding the trains that my uncle was working on and they later gained much respect for each other.”
While in Montreal, Julien developed a passion for travelling and journeyed to Israel, Palestine, France and Rome, where he met Pope John Paul II. He also enjoyed singing and playing the harmonica in church and at funerals, wedding ceremonies and family gatherings.
At his birthday celebration, he sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and parts of “Ave Maria”.
In addition to his children, five of whom reside in Canada, Julien has 25 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.