Bicknell was born as Alice May Highfield in Wolverhampton, England on 12 May 1907 as the eldest of four children born to Edward Ernest Highfield and Alice Hampton. Her father worked at a factory making door locks and her mother was a homemaker. Her three siblings were Doris, Maud, and Harry. There was a history of longevity in the family, with Bicknell’s parents and sisters all living to be nonagenarians. Her brother Harry died in 1971 aged 53.
Bicknell remembered witnessing zeppelins flying over her town just outside of Birmingham during World War I. She married William Henry “Bill” Bicknell in 1936; the couple had one daughter, Christine, in 1938. She worked as a bookkeeper.
During World War II, the town of Wolverhampton built a bomb shelter in Bicknell’s garden, of brick, with a rebar and cement roof, but it was never used. After the war’s end, they used it as a coal store. Her husband was a fireman during the war, and was often called away to cities including London, Coventry and Birmingham. After the war, he went back to his previous job as a plasterer.
The Bicknell family emigrated to Canada by boat in 1953, after receiving a letter from friends Les and Elsie Martin, who had just moved to Toronto, and were loving it there. Their other reasons for relocating were that England still used rationing, and the job prospects for Bill were poor. He found a job in St. Catharines, Ontario, three weeks after their arrival in Quebec City, and later founded his own business, Bicknell Building.
Bicknell and her husband built a house in Jordan, Ontario, and lived there for several years before moving to Sault Ste. Marie. Bill Bicknell developed stomach cancer and returned to England, as per his wishes, and died there in 1964. Bicknell returned to St. Catharines shortly afterwards.
Bicknell lived independently until the age of 99, when she had a ministroke and her doctor decided against independent living. She moved into a nursing home in Grimsby, Ontario. She enjoyed reading, listening to classical music, and spending time with her daughter, three grandsons, and two great-grandchildren.
As a centenarian, Bicknell and her family marked her birthdays with large celebrations, with English relatives often attending. Her birthdays and Mother’s Day were often celebrated simultaneously. She died on 21 November 2017 at the age of 110 years, 193 days.
Biography partially sourced from Gerontology Wiki