New Brunswick

108-year-old from Beaver Harbour may be the oldest man in New Brunswick

Arnold Hawkins remembers when the dirt roads in Beaver Harbour were paved over.

Arnold Hawkins is turning 108, but says he feels 31, or maybe 60

Arnold Hawkins was born in Beaver Harbour, N.B. on Jan. 30, 1911. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Arnold Hawkins just turned 108, but he feels like a much, much younger man — maybe even a newborn.

"I'm born now, just got born," Hawkins said to his granddaughter Cheryl McKinley.

Hawkins may be the second oldest man in Canada, and possibly the oldest man in New Brunswick.

He's lived in the small fishing village of Beaver Harbour his whole life, working as a fisherman for more than 40 years.

"He was born probably a few feet from the water, not maybe 100 feet from the water on the shore road," said his daughter Violet McKinley.

Arnold Hawkins worked as a fisherman in Beaver Harbour for more than 40 years. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Hawkins' wife died in 2010, but he was surrounded by plenty of family for his birthday on Wednesday. He has five children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

His family and friends celebrated his birthday with lunch and cake.

Violet says even at his age, he's still trying to take care of everyone.

"Just a couple of years ago we were just laying out on the bed, him and I talking, and I had kinda dozed off and I felt him moving around, all down the side of me, and I thought, 'What is he doing?' ... I peeked out and he sat up and he had completely tucked me in from the top to the bottom," Violet said.

"He was still looking after his little girl after all these years, and that just melted my heart."

Arnold Hawkins is turning 108, but says he feels 31, or maybe 60. 0:56

And even at his age, Hawkins still has his sense of humour. When Violet asked him how old he was, he replied, "31."

"You're looking a little bit wrinkly for 31," she said.

"I don't know, I guess I'm 60," Hawkins said. 

His granddaughter Cheryl remembers how her grandfather used to take care of her while her parents were both working, and how he did the same thing for her children.

Hawkins' daughter Violet McKinley said she remembers a few years ago her father tucked her into bed, still trying to 'take care of his little girl.' (Graham Thompson/CBC)

"When I had my first child, he was in his early nineties, and he would actually babysit for me," she said. "He would actually change diapers at 90-some years of age, and watching him take care of my child the way he took care of me … that's just something I talk about all of the time."

She said she asked him once what his strongest memory in Beaver Harbour was and he told her he remembered when the dirt roads were paved over.

Kassidi Whittier, Hawkins' great-granddaughter, said seeing her great-grandfather's love for his community makes her want to stay there too, so she can be "old like that."

"He built this house by himself, I think that's pretty amazing," she said. "He did everything he could to make his life great and he did and he made everyone else's life great around him."

Hawkins has five children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

With files from Graham Thompson