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100 cards for a 100th birthday celebration

Oshawa resident Harvard Armour Hanna will be turning 100 on Canada Day and long-time friend Jenn Maddigan is asking for 100 birthday cards to help make his day extra special. (photos by Courtney Bachar)

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

A long-time Oshawa resident is celebrating a century and a close friend wants to help make it extra special.

Harvard Armour Hanna will be turning 100 on Canada Day and his close friend, Jenn Maddigan, would like to try and make his birthday extra special by collecting 100 birthday cards.

Maddigan first met Hanna in 2000 at the Canadian Club of Durham Region, a social group at the time.

“He was the treasurer and I was a new member. I eventually became the president of the club for a couple of years. We built a friendship on that,” she says, noting Hanna is more like a dad to her.

“He’s more than just a friend.”

In honour of Hanna’s history with Oshawa, the city recently delivered a special birthday banner that reads “Happy 100th Armour,” which is displayed on the light post in front of his house on Mary Street North in Oshawa, where he’s lived since 1949.

“It’s a beautiful banner,” says Maddigan. “He sits on his front porch and people drive by and they honk at him. He’s pretty happy.”

Sitting down with The Oshawa Express, and with a smile from ear to ear, Hanna sits in his backyard reminiscing about his past and how he has managed to stay so nimble at such a young age.

Hanna was born in Janetville, Ontario on July 1, 1920. After his family moved around a bit, they eventually settled in Oshawa where Hanna finished school, graduating from Oshawa Collegiate.

On June 17, 1941, Hanna joined the war.

“I joined with a buddy,” he says, noting he joined with the Royal Canadian Air Force and got his wings in Aylmer in June 1942.

“I thought I was pretty hot shit,” he laughs.

Hanna was stationed in Dunnville, Ontario as a flying instructor before going overseas in 1944, where he says he “bummed around” from base to base for a few years.

“I enjoyed every last bit of it,” he says.

Hanna was honourably discharged in September or 1945. By this time, Hanna was married – he and his wife married in 1943 – and bought a house and settled down in Oshawa.

“I met my wife on the four corners,” he says with a grin. “You know what that is? That’s where all the guys would go after flying to pick up the girls,” he says, referring to the intersection of Simcoe and King Streets in Oshawa.

In 1961, Hanna was in a severe accident, which left him with a bad hip and unable to work.

“He had it replaced a couple times, but at that point he couldn’t stand,” says Maddigan.

At age 50, Hanna decided to go back to school and graduated at 53 as a general accountant, eventually landing a job with the City of Oshawa as the internal auditor.

Hanna spent 10 years as the city’s auditor before becoming manager at the Oshawa Airport.

“The airport was in complete turmoil at that time,” he says, noting the Oshawa Airport was one of the busiest regional airports for take-off and landing in Canada.

“I enjoyed the challenge of working at the airport,” he says, adding he retired at the age of 86.

Since Hanna’s wife passed away in 2000, he spends his days lunching with friends, cooking, reading, or doing his daily crossword puzzles.

“I cook for myself. The food is what is keeping me alive,” he says. “And I’m blessed with good friends. I just look forward to every day.”

Because of COVID, Maddigan says Hanna’s party of about 60 people had to be cut down to five.

“So, what we’re asking is if everybody can do a card with a little note to say Happy Birthday, how they met or what he means to them,” says Maddigan. “He’s a very humble, quiet man. He has done so much for Oshawa…Durham Region…Ontario and I’m hoping we can do this for him.”

Anyone interested in sending Hanna a birthday card to help celebrate his special day can send it in care of Jenn Maddigan, 69 Parnell Crescent, Whitby, ON L1R 2L5.