February 3 was a very special day for Chute-a-Blondeau resident William ‘Bill’ Caban. The former pilot and military veteran celebrated his 100th birthday, with special wishes from family, friends and neighbours.
Caban also received visits from well wishers on Saturday, February 5, as many acquaintances came by to give their well wishes from a safe distance and drop off presents and cards. The show of affection meant the world to the centenarian.
“I had a wonderful day, with champagne, cake, good food and lots of birthday wishes from family and friends,” said Caban after the weekend drive by. “Oh my goodness, it was such a surprise.”
Bill said it is hard to believe he has experienced the milestone and he is grateful for his continued good health.
“I tell you frankly, I feel okay,” Bill said. “I’m still in top shape.”
“For his age he in remarkable health,” says daughter Dianne. “In the summer he cuts the grass – up until each winter he’s out on his tractor.”
Caban, who was born on February 3, 1922, enjoyed a lengthy career in aviation, serving with the Royal Air Force Ferry Command as a radio technician during World War II. After the war he worked as a professional pilot and engineer.
Born in Czechoslovakia, Bill’s family moved to Canada when he was six years old. Growing up just outside of Montreal, Bill became an aircraft engineer by profession and also a private commercial pilot.
“People would bring their aircraft to him to work on at the small airports in Dorval and Saint-Laurent,” Dianne recalls. “Helicopters would also land beside our house so he could do their radio work.”
An avid amateur pilot, Caban purchased a rural property near Chute-a-Blondeau in 1984 with his family because he wanted a spot where he could have his own small airfield. He flew regularly right up until the age of 80.
It’s obvious he misses flying airplanes, as Bill speaks of flying in Canada’s Arctic and of spectacular views over the Amazonian rain forest.
“It scared the hell out of me,” Caban admits of flying miles from civilization over the Amazon jungle.
The energetic centenarian said he is already looking forward to the upcoming summer, when he hopes to continue celebrating his 100th outdoors with his family and neighbours.