VANCOUVER -- Residents of Vancouver's West End came together to celebrate a significant birthday for a Second World War veteran on Tuesday.

Margaret McDonald turned 102, and her birthday was honoured by the Vancouver Police Department's mounted unit, as well as fire crews and neighbours. McDonald took in the celebration outside her building in her wheelchair while donning a red cap, red glasses and a pin that said, "Birthday Girl."

Residents of her building were asked to stand on their balconies at 11 a.m. to wish her a happy birthday, and the neighbourhood came out in droves—while socially distanced—to wish her well. Some people held signs with balloons on them, and one attendee even played happy birthday for McDonald on the saxophone while the crowd sang along.

"We don't do a lot for our elderly. They go unnoticed," said Margaret's daughter, Katherine Houston. "She's a World War II, former air force officer. She's done a lot for her country."

Houston said her mom plans to celebrate by opening more presents and then chatting with her family on Zoom and an old friend on FaceTime. She also hoped to get a nap in at some point.

"I think just the crowds, the love is the favourite part," she said. Houston also credits the VPD with helping to spread the word about the celebration, which she described as definitely going "beyond the call."

"These guys, the horses, the mounted unit, have been amazing to her. She's loved horses her whole life," said Houston. "They've been wonderful to her for years. They're great neighbours here. And actually, it's those guys that got all of this to happen. I did nothing compared to what they did."

When asked about some of McDonald's favourite memories, Houston said they include her old horse named Pete, and her time as an air force officer, when she and a group of women made toys for children in war-torn England and sent them through the Red Cross. She also has fond memories of her Aunt Ellen, who raised her after her mother died of the Spanish Flu. McDonald also has a daily morning call with a friend who serenades her with show tunes since they can no longer play bridge together.

And the secret to McDonald's longevity? Houston said her mom credits a combination of "gratitude, service to others and chocolate."