WWII veteran in Victoria celebrates 108th birthday, inspires others: ‘He loves living’

WWII veteran in Victoria celebrates 108th birthday, inspires others: 'He loves living'

Victoria’s Albert Middleton is celebrating his 108th birthday, reflecting on his life and inspiring others as one of the oldest Second World War veterans alive in Canada.

At Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich, Middleton was surrounded by family, fellow residents and care home staff on Saturday for the big celebration, complete with a cake, sparkling wine and big smiles all around.

“It’s a ha-ha-happy day,” Middleton said when addressing the room before blowing out his birthday candles and toasting a glass of wine with his son, Wayne, and daughter, Darlene.

“He came to this country, I think it was 1928, at the age of 14 years old. His philosophy was never give up, and if you want to get ahead, you work,” Wayne told CHEK News.

“Dad always said you have to have a goal to keep moving towards. My goal is to be as happy and wonderful as he is at 108 years of age,” said Darlene.

She says her dad would often say you need three things in life: something to do, something to look forward to, and someone to love. “That pretty much sums it all up,” she added.

Middleton was born in London, England, in 1915 and was later sent to Canada by the National Children’s Orphanage, according to staff at the lodge. By September 1943, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a General Serviceman and was stationed in Lachine, QC, until he was deployed to England, where he served for most of WWII.

“On July 12, 1946, he was Honourably Released and transferred to the Reserve General Section, Class ‘E’. He received the Defence medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, and (unconfirmed) the Canadian Forces Decoration with Clasp,” states a news release.

Middleton moved into the lodge in 2016 when he was 101 years old. Before that, he lived on his own in B.C.’s capital and would often participate in the day programs for veterans at the care home, where he quickly became known by everybody, recalls Janet Power.

“Albert is a character,” said Power, director of Veterans Memorial Lodge. “You’ll often hear him going down the hallways singing or humming a tune or two. Always open to having a hug, he loves living and loves being around people.” 

Now, Middleton’s sharing the secret to his longevity, which is to “never give in, keep moving, keep going forward,” he said in the release. As for some advice he’d give to his younger self: “Don’t smoke, it’s bad for you!” 

Watch Middleton’s birthday celebration below:

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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