North York resident Helen McKinnon Doan turns 112 today. Here is what she says is the key to living a long life.
“Just keep on breathing,” quipped Doan, who is celebrating her 112th birthday on Monday.
“Staying active is very, very important to living a long life. I’ve been active all my life. … And you need a little bit of luck, too.”
Early this morning, CP24 visited the supercentenarian at the home in Willowdale that she shares with her daughter, also named Helen.
Doan has experienced many changes in her 112 years.
Born on Sept. 18, 1911 in Temiskaming Mine, the then Helen Donaldson moved to Toronto with her family when she was 12.
Here, she met her late husband Harold Alfred Doan. The couple was married in 1935 and had two children, Helen and Harry.
Doan, who has five grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, worked as a bookkeeper and an office manager until her retirement in 1976.
She lived through the First and Second World Wars, and still remembers singing “It’s a long way to Tipperary” at the age of four while collecting money for soldiers during the Great War.
The supercentenarian, who as a child loved playing softball, has lived to see the invention of cars, planes, television, and computers along with countless technological, social and medical advancements.
Through it all, she’s made an effort to keep up with these changes, her daughter said, pointing to the first iPad that her mother got when she was in her 90s.
“(Mum) is known, loved and respected for her keen intelligence, sharp wit, contagious laughter, knowledge, genuine kindness, words of wisdom, magical stories and her delightful storytelling,” her daughter wrote in a recent email to CP24.
"Anyone who knows or meets Helen Doan is struck by her beauty, her gentleness of character, her interest in life, her loving heart, her concern and caring of others, sense of humour, humility, and her dignity and charm.”
North York resident Helen McKinnon Doan turned 112 years old on Sept. 18.
Speaking with CP24 on Monday morning, the younger Helen Doan said that the most important lesson she’s learned from her mother is to always express her feelings, then find ways to solve challenges you’re presented with.
“Regardless of what happens, the first thing you do is allow yourself to be emotional and then you work out a problem and solve it. And so, problem solution was always a part of our lives,” she shared.
“When ever anything came up there was always a way. You could be your emotional self, but then you had to move on and solve problems.”
Doan also said that her mother and father also taught her and her brother about the “value of education” from a “very, very young” age.
“Mom and dad both always promoted education,” she added.
This evening, Doan’s immediate family will be gathering at her home to celebrate her 112th birthday.
“We’re all just so happy to have Mum with us,” Helen said while softly clutching her mother’s hand.
“For the family, she’s an inspiration and it’s beautiful everything that she has contributed to our lives so we’re all excited to just celebrate her.”
King Charles and Queen Camilla, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General Mary Simon, and Mayor Olivia Chow have also reached out to offer Doan their birthday wishes on this very special occasion, according to the family.