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Charlottetown man soars to new heights on 100th birthday

Bruce Coulson and his granddaughters Sarah Coulson-Gillespie, left, and Kirah Coulson-Gillespie moments before he cut into his 100th birthday cake.
Bruce Coulson and his granddaughters Sarah Coulson-Gillespie, left, and Kirah Coulson-Gillespie moments before he cut into his 100th birthday cake. - Katherine Hunt

Bruce Coulson celebrates while flying a plane over his childhood home

Bruce Coulson spent his 100th birthday in an unlikely location on Saturday – up in the air.

Bruce Coulson spent the first day of his centennial year flying a private plane over his childhood home with his grandchildren. - Contributed
Bruce Coulson spent the first day of his centennial year flying a private plane over his childhood home with his grandchildren. - Contributed

The Charlottetown resident took to the skies in a private plane with his granddaughter, Kirah, and great-grandson, Tristan, as he flew over Seaview, the area where he was born and raised a century ago.

“This day was worth waiting 100 years for, but I don’t think I’ll make it to 200,” Coulson said to Kirah on the plane.

The next day Coulson celebrated with his loved ones at a birthday party at the Seniors Active Living Centre in Charlottetown.

Coulson’s daughter, Sharon, said her father is still very active. He exercises, goes for walks and plays cards every week at the centre.

Coulson said he credits his longevity to a higher power.

“People ask me, what do you do to extend your life, and I say, ‘it’s not me, it’s the Holy Spirit guiding me’,” he said.

Coulson isn’t the only one to meet the century mark in his family.

His mother, Catherine, lived to be 105 years old.

“I think often of my mother who lived to be 105 and I’m thinking ahead five years,” said Coulson.

Coulson spent much of his long life working for the military and government.

He enlisted in the Second World War in 1939 and served in the Italian campaign in 1943.

When he moved back to Canada, he went to Dalhousie University when his daughter and only child, Sharon, was born to his wife Lila.

It is still one of the highlights of his life, along with when his two granddaughters, Sarah and Kirah, were born, and his great-grandson, Tristan.

“I was very proud,” he said.

Bruce Coulson cuts into his 100th birthday cake. - Katherine Hunt
Bruce Coulson cuts into his 100th birthday cake. - Katherine Hunt

After the military, Coulson spent 36 years doing quality assurance for the federal government.

“It was interesting because I had to determine the quality of so many items that the services required and it meant visiting various manufacturing plants in Canada and overseas,” said Coulson.

Kirah said the family hopes her grandfather will continue in his longevity.

“He’s very much the pillar of the family,” she said. “He’s just one of those generous souls, always trying to serve others. So, we feel very fortunate to him with us.”

As for his adventure in the sky, Kirah says he was a natural.

“It was incredible, he literally took to the flying naturally and kept the plane steady,” she said.

“He’d say, ‘oh that’s Seaview pond’ and take us around it.”

Katherine.hunt@theguardian.pe.ca

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