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Kamloops war veteran turns 100: His secrets to longevity

100-year-old Kamloops war veteran Zack Bourque (right) with his friend at Moose Lodge, Sandra Courteen-Nurse.
100-year-old Kamloops war veteran Zack Bourque (right) with his friend at Moose Lodge, Sandra Courteen-Nurse.

A social lodge in a senior’s complex in Kamloops was slowly filling up with club members finding seats to play card games, exchanging warm greetings, jokes and news this week while preparing for a big, rare day.

Sunshine streamed through the windows onto long tables, worn leather chairs and walls covered with photographs, memories, newspaper clippings and artwork.

Sandra Courteen-Nurse worked behind a bar chatting with members while filling their drink orders, predicting the orders ahead of time. She’s worked at the bar at Moose Lodge for over a decade.

Just past 12 p.m. the oldest member of the group, Zack Bourque, had yet to arrive.

“He’ll be here any minute for a coffee or orange juice,” Courteen-Nurse said.

“He’ll be here in three minutes, he’s like clockwork,” said an older gentleman taking a seat.

Bourque is a war veteran who just turned 100 years old, and he had a busy week of celebrations. His friends at the Moose Lodge threw him a surprise party on Sept. 17, then his son flew in from England and took him to celebrate with family in the Lower Mainland. 

“It was packed in here, standing room only,” Courteen-Nurse said of the surprise party. “When he walked in everyone gave him a salute. He had a pint of beer and people bought him coffees to put up on the board to use as he likes.”

She made a couple of Caesars and the volume in the otherwise quiet room began to build as members formed a table for an afternoon game of Euchre.

“Here he is,” she said as Bourque walked into the room and a chorus of greetings were voiced.

Sandra Courteen-Nurse (left) with Zack Bourque at the Moose Lodge in Kamloops.
Sandra Courteen-Nurse (left) with Zack Bourque at the Moose Lodge in Kamloops.

At age 100, Bourque doesn’t rely on a wheelchair or a cane to walk and he’s not on any medications. He has a happy expression on his face, bright blue eyes and looks decades younger than his age.

He stopped at the bar for an orange juice, all smiles then settled into a chair. One of his friends put the juice on his own tab, wishing Bourque a happy birthday.

“Look at him,” Courteen-Nurse said. “He doesn’t even have a wrinkle.”

“Because he has no stress,” one member said.

“Because we all look after him around here,” said another.

When asked what it feels like to be 100 years old, Bourque smiled and said: “Well, I don’t know yet, I haven’t been 100 for very long.”

He said he doesn’t know of any others his age and his own parents didn’t live anywhere close to 100.

“When I grew up I thought 70-year-olds were old, but now they're just teenagers.”

Bourque said keeping active and laughing a lot are his keys to longevity. He used to walk long distances and was an avid golfer and curler. He cracks a lot of jokes with his friends.

“I like laughing a lot more than I like fighting.”

Bourque is a very sociable person, a regular at the Moose Lodge and the Army and Navy Club in Kamloops where he likes to visit and play keno and poker. He used to belong to the Kamloops Legion and walked many blocks to get there from his home at Cottonwood Manor.

“I’d take two hours to get there and after two beers I’d take three hours to get back,” he joked.

“It took him longer when he was walking backwards,” another member joined in.

When asked if eating healthy is a key to his longevity, Bourque shrugged.

“I eat when I’m hungry and I drink when I’m dry and that’s it.”

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Courteen-Nurse said the now centenarian is part of the Moose Lodge family.

“He’s quite incredible,” the other bar tender Chrissy Fowler to earlier this week. “He’s the smartest person in our social club, he’s so with it, it’s unbelievable. We’ve kind of adopted him.”

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Bourque served in World War II helping to defend Britain’s coast working as a supply technician for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He made Kamloops home after serving at the former Canadian Forces Station on Mount Lolo in Kamloops, but couldn’t remember very many details of these times. He doesn’t know any other WWII veterans that are still living. 

Bourque has three children, two still living, and five grandchildren.

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“I’m going to stick around for a few more years, that’d be good,” he said. 

“We told him we’ll give him 200 pints when he turns 200,” Courteen-Nurse said.

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