When John Hamlyn was first elected as mayor of Crow Head, the Kennedy assassination, Beatlemania and the moon landing were all yet to be written in the history books.

Hamlyn first sat in the mayor's chair of the town of about 230 residents near Twillingate in 1962. After 55 years he's seen a lot of changes since he first put his name on the ballot, including in himself.

"I was very young, energetic and had great determination to do something good for the community," he said. "The determination is still there, but I can't do all the same things that I could 25 years ago."

Crow Head Newfoundland map

Crow Head is a town of about 230 residents near Twillingate in central Newfoundland. (Google Maps)

While the physical size of Crow Head is much the same as it was in the early 6'0s, the population is about half what it was during Hamlyn's first term.

He says residents back then were mostly dependent on the fishery, and survived by raising their own livestock inside their fenced yards and growing vegetables in family gardens.

As mayor, he's overseen many of the changes that have taken place in Crow Head over more than 50 years.

"Now we have our water and sewer projects all in service, we have paved roads, the fences are mostly all taken down," he said. "We have the same services as any other town at this particular time. We have good garbage collection."

Rather be working

Hamlyn said he's never had to run in a tightly contested race for mayor, but does remember council meetings getting pretty heated a few times.

After 55 years, he's been told he is the longest consecutive serving mayor in Canada. At more than 80 years old, and despite his wife's wishes, Hamlyn has no desire to step down.

"I think I would get old too quickly. I would rather be working and outside in the fresh air or outside in the community," he said.

"Some thank me and encourage me to go on and there's others that think they can do a better job — but they won't even try it."

With files from Leigh Anne Power