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At his 107th birthday two years ago, Canada's oldest living First World War veteran, John Babcock, licks icing from his fingers as his wife, Dorothy, then 78, cuts him a piece of birthday cake at their home in Spokane, Wash. ((Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press))

Canada's last surviving First World War veteran celebrated his 109th birthday in Washington state on Thursday.

John Babcock, who now resides in Spokane, Wash., said he intended to celebrate the occasion in a modest way by having lunch at a favourite restaurant with family and friends.

Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson will also attend the luncheon.

Babcock was born July 23, 1900, on a farm near Kingston, Ont.

At 15, he lied about his age so he could enlist in the army.

He arrived in England a few months later with the 146th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but in August 1917, after the truth about his age was discovered, he was sent to the Boys Battalion — a corps of 1,300 young soldiers training until they were 18.

The war ended before Babcock was old enough to go to the front lines in France.

He moved to the United States in the 1920s and became a U.S. citizen in 1946. At the time, dual citizenship was not allowed, so Babcock had to give up his Canadian ties.

He was again granted Canadian citizenship in 2008.

With files from The Canadian Press