Oldest Veteran Living in Canada Honored at 110

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If you ask Reuben Sinclair what the key to a long and rewarding life is, the 110-year-old won’t hesitate to share a few words of wisdom.

“Never worry,” he told a crowd of military colleagues and reporters moments before being honored at a Remembrance Day ceremony inside a Vancouver elementary school on Wednesday. .

“If you have a problem, solve it. And it goes a long way,” he said.

Sinclair is the oldest living veteran in Canada, having served in World War II for three years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His age also makes him one of the oldest living men in the country.

“I’ve always found the time to help less fortunate people, and I think that’s one of the reasons the good Lord is keeping me,” he said with a laugh.

After laying a wreath at Talmud Torah Elementary School, Sinclair received Royal Canadian Legion service medals – the latest in a long list of honors he received during his lifetime.

Sinclair is pictured with his wife Ida after the war. The couple eventually settled in Vancouver. (Submitted by Reuben Sinclair)

Her daughter, Nadine Lipetz, said she was proud that the children “have the chance to meet a veteran who has a story to tell, and I hope they can learn from it.”

Sinclair was born on a farm in Lipton, Saskatchewan. His birth certificate says he was born on December 5, 1911 – but his family say he was actually born months earlier.

“His older brothers told him he was born in the summer of 1911,” Lipetz said. “We think it was the recording date that we used as his birthday, but in reality he’s really 110 years old.”

Sinclair held various jobs during the Great Depression before enrolling in an accounting course. He was hired by the Treasury Department, where he worked until World War II.

Lipetz says his father said he couldn’t sit idly by while people died in Europe.

He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at 31, but was diagnosed with flat feet which prevented him from serving overseas, Lipetz said.

Sinclair, accompanied by his daughter, will lay a wreath during a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Talmud Torah Elementary School. (Jon Hernandez / CBC)

Instead, he served as a wireless operator mechanic in Montreal, Vancouver and North Battleford, Saskatchewan, running transmitters that were used to train pilots to take off and land on obscured runways. The program prepared pilots to fly in the night sky of Europe.

At the end of the war, he moved to the greater Vancouver area, where he opened a garage and a demolition site with his brother.

In the 1960s, he moved to California with his wife Ida. The couple returned to British Columbia in 1994, before she died a few years later.

Sinclair still lives inside his condo in Richmond, where he receives support from caregivers.

He spends much of his time remembering the years gone by, including his time in the war. Lipetz says he’s happy to see more of his family after being separated from many of them during the pandemic.

“Visits from family and friends are very important to him,” she said. “He is happy and enjoys every day.”

Over the years, Sinclair’s family has grown to include six grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.

A second great-great-grandchild is on the way.

“We feel blessed that every day is a gift,” she said.

Sinclair salutes after being honored on Wednesday. (Jon Hernandez / CBC)


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