CHEK Upside: A birthday to remember for Courtenay centenarian

CHEK Upside: A birthday to remember for Courtenay centenarian
WatchJames McGillawee was surprised by a drive-by car parade and a military helicopter flyover to celebrate his birthday.

Jim McGillawee was born on May 14, 1920. He’s seen a lot in the last century, but even he hasn’t had a birthday like this before.

“Oh yeah, unbelievable, this is better than the first of July,” said McGillawee.

Because of COVID-19, the family’s plans to celebrate the Second World War veteran’s birthday had to change so he got a surprise instead. Dozens of cars filled with friends and well-wishers drove by in parade that lasted thirty minutes as he sat in a chair at the end of a driveway enjoying every minute of it.

McGillawee still has pretty good health, an excellent memory, and a great sense of humour especially about turning 100.

“It’s just like going to the museum,” he said. “All I am is another exhibit. That’s all it is, that’s all I am is another exhibit,” he said with a laugh.

One of the highlights of his birthday celebration was a flyover by a Canadian Forces Search and Rescue helicopter from 19 Wing Comox, a salute to him for his years in service.

“He spent the war years with the marine squadron with the RCAF on the supply ships up and down the west coast. He’s got great memories and he shares them constantly,” said his son Sheldon.

So what is Jim’s key to longevity?

“Family and sense of humour. And a glass of scotch,” said his daughter Sharon Smith.

And apparently he likes a good parade.

“It makes you want to get old to see a parade,” said the elder McGillawee.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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