Erma Joy Brown will be 103 next month and has lived 88 of those years in Black Diamond, south of Calgary.

Her family moved there in the 1920s when she was a teenager and the oil and natural gas boom had begun.

Brown says there wasn't much housing available when they got there.

“We lived here in the days when they had what they called hell's half acre, I think everybody knows about that in this day and age and for the first few months that we lived here we lived in a tent,” she said.

She married and she and her husband raised their family in Black Diamond.

Brown was widowed when she was quite young and her son was already out on his own so she needed to provide for herself and her daughter.

She went to work for the community as its secretary treasurer and continued to work for the town after retiring.

Black Diamond’s mayor, Glen Fagan, says Brown has been a real inspiration.

“She has spent so much time volunteering in our community. She has brought a seniors' centre together, she's brought a Glen Mead centre, she's worked with the hospital, all on a volunteer basis,” he said.

One of the town's tourist attractions was Brown's idea. The large black diamond outside the town office is popular for photos and selfies.

Brown maintains her independence by getting her meals the modern way and goes online to order them from a company that cooks for seniors.

Tracy Brunt owns the Heart to Home franchise for the Calgary area and decided Brown deserved recognition during Seniors’ Week so she and her staff delivered a special cake.

“Erma is our most senior, senior and she did come to our attention because she is shattering peoples' misconceptions about the abilities of seniors living independently,” she said.

For being an inspiration to Black Diamond for nearly a century, Erma Brown is our Inspiring Albertan this week.

(With files from Darrel Janz)