SAULT STE. MARIE -- While current COVID restrictions prevent a party, the Sault's newest member of the centennial club isn't letting that ruin his very special day.

Second World War veteran Harold Soderlund said he's received hundreds of cards and birthday wishes in the days leading up to his special birthday, many from prominent Canadian figures.

"Queen Elizabeth, the prime minister, and even Chris Hadfield, that's really neat," said Soderlund. "It's just so satisfying. I feel very good about that, and I give credit here to my very good friend, John Hooper and Clyde Healey, who spent a lot of time and effort to arrange all this."

Was a POW

Soderlund, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, survived being shot down by enemy aircraft and was eventually taken as a prisoner of war.

Following his liberation and return to Canada, Soderlund worked for Algoma Steel in Wawa for 31 years, before moving to the Sault in 2006.

"I feel amazing today," said Soderlund. "I have so many friends that are wonderful. It's been a great day."

A birthday party was planned to celebrate Soderlund's birthday on Apri1 21, but it was postponed due to pandemic restrictions.

John Hooper, the local 432 Wing President of the Air Force Association of Canada, was in charge of helping organize it.

"Harold, being a veteran, doing the things he's done for us during a time of war, it was very important," he said.

Hooper said this would be the second time the party has been postponed at the local legion and is now tentatively scheduled for May 26.

"I think it's worth doing," he said. "It may sound old by the time we get to it, but I think we owe it to Harold."