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‘It was my duty to go’: Canada’s oldest living veteran on why he served his country

Click to play video: 'Canada’s oldest living veteran honoured in Remembrance Day ceremony at Vancouver school' Canada’s oldest living veteran honoured in Remembrance Day ceremony at Vancouver school
By all accounts, Reuben Sinclair is Canada's oldest living veteran. And today, the 110-year-old was honoured for his service during a special ceremony at a Vancouver school. Aaron McArthur has more on Sinclair's life and contributions to the Royal Canadian Air Force. – Nov 10, 2021

Canada’s oldest veteran was honoured Wednesday, one day before Remembrance Day, during a ceremony at a Vancouver school.

Reuben Sinclair is just shy of turning 110 years old.

While Veterans Affairs Canada won’t identify the country’s oldest veterans for privacy reasons, Sinclair is believed to be the oldest living veteran in Canada.

He was 31 years old when he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942, during the Second World War.

He served as a wireless mechanic operator deployed in Canada and trained pilots on how to take off and land on blacked-out runways using his technology.

“We had three transmitters,” he said. “One of the transmitters was on the plane and when they began their descent they starting beeping – beep, beep, beep. It meant they were 500 feet from the runway.

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“That’s how they learned how to land in the dark. Because down there, Hitler would have bombed them out.”

Sinclair said he had two to three other people working with him during the war and although he can’t remember their names now, he called them “a good assortment” of people.

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Ceremonies held to honour Indigenous military veterans in B.C – Nov 8, 2021

Sinclair, who was born in 1911 near Lipton Saskatchewan, still lives on his own, with caregivers, in Richmond.

He now has three children, six grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and two soon to be great-great-grandchildren.

Read more: Remembrance Day 2021 – BC Remembers Special

According to a profile in Jewish Independent, after the war, Sinclair started the Sinclair Bros. Garage and Auto Wrecking in Richmond with his youngest brother Joe.

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They ended up bringing many of their family members to British Columbia.

In 1964 he moved with his wife and three children to Los Angeles when his doctor said he needed a drier climate.

Eventually, they moved back to B.C. and his wife died of a stroke in 1996.

The couple were known for their giving natures, raising money for charities in Los Angeles and B.C.

When asked about why he signed up in 1942, Sinclair said simply, “I didn’t have to (go to war) but I felt it was my duty.”

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Read more: Canadian war hero Léo Major honoured with road named after him

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Sinclair was honoured Wednesday at a special ceremony at Talmud Torah Elementary in Vancouver.

He does have some advice for anyone who wants to live as long as he has.

“Never worry,” he said. “If you’ve got a problem, fix it. Then you don’t go bald.

“You live to 110 and still working good.”

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