Beaver Harbour, N.B., man is the latest to join elite supercentenarian club

·3 min read

A New Brunswick man is the latest member of an exclusive club — the supercentenarians, a list of rare people who have reached 110-years of age.

Arnold Hawkins hits the milestone Saturday.

But, because of the pandemic there won't be much of a party to celebrate the achievement.

So some of his family members have been celebrating for a couple of weeks now, in a much different manner than any other year, and one that has taken on a life of its own.

"This has become even bigger than a normal one-ten birthday party at the house would be," said Hawkins' youngest daughter Violet McKinley.

Hawkins has five children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

He has lived in the small fishing village of Beaver Harbour his whole life, working as a fisherman for more than 40 years.

McKinley said her daughter, Cheryl, put out a call on social media earlier in the month for people to send birthday cards to help Hawkins mark his birthday, with hopes of receiving 110 greetings.

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Instead, more than 5000 birthday greetings have come in the mail and through email from across the country and beyond — including cards from Germany and Australia.

To keep up with the influx of messages, the family has been reading Hawkins the cards daily leading up to his big day.

"It's just blown up" McKinley said. "And they're still coming in," she laughed.

"They're just excited to have something good come out this year to start the new COVID year with," she said about the messages people are sending her father.

McKinley said her father is also enjoying hearing the messages from far and wide.

"He loves to be read the cards, he loves it. He sits there and you'll think that he might be sleeping, but he's not," said McKinley, adding that her father is in good health.

"His brain is still working quite well."

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

Where Hawkins sits among Canada's oldest living people is not clear, though the family said they believe he's the oldest Canadian-born male still living, and credits the information to a list compiled on Wikipedia.

"He ranks, I think, like maybe number 17 or 18 in Canada, but the rest are all women except for this one other guy," McKinley said, adding that the man who is older than her father wasn't originally born in Canada.

Statistics Canada's current data was last updated in July 2020, and lump everyone over 100-years-old into one category — not breaking down any more specifics beyond centenarians.

Regardless of where Hawkins' sits in the ranks of the supercentenarian club, McKinley is hoping the pandemic will be over to celebrate his 111 birthday.

"There's always next year," she chuckled.

Hawkins tells people his secret to a long life is to eat lots of fish.

But, McKinley points out that her father has genetics on his side, with a grandmother who lived to be 107, and two uncles who lived to be centenarians.