The year 1911 was a busy one.
On Jan. 10, the first photo taken from an airplane in the U.S. took place in San Diego.
On March 13, the Ottawa Senators beat Galt 7-4 to win the Stanley Cup.
Across the ocean in Belfast, Ireland, the R.M.S. Titanic was launched on May 31.
Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier lost the election to Robert Bordon of the Conservative Party on Sept. 21.
In the third Grey Cup on Nov. 25 the University of Toronto defeated the Toronto Argonauts, 14-7.
And on Dec. 5 one of Richmond’s oldest residents, Reuben Sinclair, now 104, was born on his family’s farm in Lipton, Saskatchewan, 80 miles north east of Saskatoon.
In fact, 1911 was such a busy year, Sinclair had what his family considers to be two birthdays.
His daughter, Nadine Lipetz, explained that, while Dec. 5 was when her father’s birth was officially recorded, he may well have been welcomed to the world by a midwife a few months earlier.
“It’s hard to say exactly,” she said. “But we’ve always had two birthdays for him — one in the summer and another in December.
The last one, on Dec. 5, featured a small gathering of family for a dinner for the veteran, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless electronics mechanic.
Shortly after the war, he moved his family to the Lower Mainland to run a service station, called Sinclair Brothers, in east Richmond, with one of his younger brothers.
While he’s been retired for many years, Sinclair said he owes to his longevity, in part, to being active — something that was thrusted upon him at an early age.
“I was about 15 and my dad was so ill he nearly died,” he said.
With two older siblings who had already moved away, and two others younger than him, it was up to Sinclair to run the six, quarter sections (960 acres) of mixed farming land.
“I had a lot of responsibilities at a young age,” he said, adding those lessons learned back then taught him to rely on no one else to shape his future.
After taking some accounting courses, Sinclair worked for the Saskatchewan Treasury Department. And when war broke out, he installed navigational equipment which allowed aircraft to take off and land in total darkness before the widespread usage of radar.
And when radar came about, Sinclair helped retrofit the planes.
“I used to get an extra $1.75 a day if I’d go up with the aircraft to test it out,” he said with a wry smile. “Depending who the pilot was, that could be dangerous.”
While on the ground, later in life, Sinclair kept active, both physically and mentally.
He still rides a stationary bike for a few minutes every day and tackles a handful of word search puzzles. He still cooks and cleans for himself in his central Richmond apartment, where he’s lived for the past 21 years.
And up until a few years ago, he drove a car and played golf on a regular basis.
“I’ve had three holes in one,” he said proudly.
But of all his activities that have kept him physically and mentally sharp, Sinclair said the top reason for staying young was taking worry out of his life.
“It doesn’t do you any good to worry about things,” he said. “If you have a problem, you just fix it. It’s as simple as that.”