Ottawa woman celebrates 107th birthday

Roberta Brown celebrates her 107th birthday with family, friends and staff, outside the Salvation Army Grace Manor, where she lives. (Tyler Fleming/CTV News Ottawa)

It was a day of pomp and circumstance for an Ottawa woman who will turn 107 years old on Saturday.

The lead up to her birthday included a parade, with family and friends helping to mark the milestone occasion.

Classic cars cruised by, a bagpipe played happy birthday, police, a fire truck and family were all part of the parade to honour Roberta Brown.

"I love it! I love it," says Brown, who was seated outside the entrance to her home at the Salvation Army's Grace Manor. "All the cars, all the people, all the balloons."

Brown was born on June 5, 1914, on a farm in West Templeton Que., on the brink of the First World War.

In 1929, at 15-years-old, she moved to Ottawa with her parents and older sister Beulah, and would stay and raise her family. She has two sons, Rob and Maynard Dunn.

"Just to be 107 is fantastic," says Rob. "That’s a special day and we’re planning the 108th for next year."

"It’s very special and I’m so happy to have her," says Maynard, adding that there are six grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren. "And she remembers every name and every birthday."

Dozens of family members attended the socially distanced event. Great-great-grandchild Jayce Dunn was cheering and singing along as the cars drove by.

"It’s very special. I don’t think many people get to make it to 107," says Dunn. "I’m hoping that I live as long as her."

Kimberley Tamarit, Brown’s only granddaughter, says it’s special that every grandchild in the family is old enough to know and remember their 'Nan.'

"I have 52 years of memories with my grandmother," says Tamarit. "She is a spitfire, she still is extremely energetic. She has a memory like beyond belief."

Carrie Cunningham, the activity manager at Grace Manor, says it was a team effort from all the staff to plan the birthday celebration during the pandemic.

"Lots of helping hands and it was a success," says Cunningham. "We’re happy we were able to do something today that brought smiles to faces, even if they were masked."

Brown was touched by the event. She left her chair, to walk by her family and friends to thank them, wave and blow kisses.

"It was very special. I want to thank them all for being here," says Brown. "I would love to get closer to them, haven’t seen them before Christmas a year ago."

Brown was asked about the key to her longevity.

"I have no secret. I grew up on a farm maybe that was it," she laughed.  "Just try to live life I guess and be happy."