P.A.’s Peggy Sinclair celebrates 106th birthday with balloons, cake and virtual family visits

Peggy Sinclair poses in front of her 106th birthday balloons at the Herb Bassett Home in Prince Albert on July 20, 2020. (Richelle Anderson/Submitted)

Peggy Sinclair is 106 years old. Even in her triple digits, the Prince Albert woman is always down to go on a slip n’ slide, steer a horse-drawn sleigh ride, or hop on a skidoo.

Her birthday on Monday was a bit different. Visitor restrictions are in place where she lives, the Herb Bassett Home, because of COVID-19.

Instead, Sinclair enjoyed a slice of birthday cake with her family through video chat on several tablets and cell phones sprawled out in front of her.

“That’s kind of a running joke around here. We always ask her ‘What are we going to do to top it?’” said Richelle Anderson, the recreation coordinator in the Golden Hill community where Sinclair resides.

“She’s always open to fun adventures, too. We’ve taken her on the swing set, we’ve gone to the beach and put our feet in the water. She kind of went swimming at the Kinsmen Water Park,” added Anderson.

“She’s adventurous. She doesn’t say no, she likes that kind of stuff.”

Anderson arranged a virtual family visit for Sinclair, and brought rainbow-coloured birthday balloons and a cake with candles. Luckily for Sinclair, they couldn’t fit 106 candles on the cake, so she only had to worry about blowing out six.

“Every time we go to the Dollar Store for balloons, they’re like ‘A hundred and what?’” said Anderson with a laugh.

Last year, for her 105th birthday, Anderson said the Herb Bassett Home had a large celebration open to the public. Everyone came to celebrate Sinclair, from staff, to family, to other residents.

Normally, they also bring in a bagpipes player for her.

They’ve been hosting birthday parties for Sinclair at least since she turned 100, but Anderson couldn’t pinpoint exactly how long she’s been living at the home.

The idea of a pandemic isn’t exactly a strange topic to Sinclair, added another staff member, Jen McDougall.

“I know the COVID thing is so hard for so many people to understand, but this isn’t her first. When you live to 106, she’s been through so much,” said McDougall.

Sinclair was a child during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19. Over 100 years later, she’s witnessing the world adapting to lockdowns, mask-wearing and physical distancing, something most people alive today have never experienced.

Every year, staff hope that, somehow, they can make her birthday that much more special. The pandemic made that difficult, but Sinclair was just as grateful for their efforts.

“She’s still very thankful of it,” explained Anderson.

“You ask her how her day was yesterday and she’ll tell you ‘Oh, I had such a wonderful birthday party.’”