Archive for Feb 2014

February 22, 2014 GOLDEN: Dick and Nancy

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I have been trying for several weeks to get together with Dick and Nancy as part of this Golden Project – but each time we go to meet one of us are sick or the weather doesn’t cooperate. Finally Friday everything was set to meet! I arrived at their condo where I was to meet their granddaughter – and checked my messages. There was a message saying Dick wasn’t feeling well and not up to it. Oh no! But then the next message was – if you’ve already left, let’s go ahead anyways! And so we did. I didn’t expect Dick to talk much, but right from the string, firm handshake when I arrived he had this twinkle in his eye. He corrected Nancy’s story and laughed along with us. And at the end they thanked us for a fun morning down memory lane. I’m so glad we went ahead!

Dick and Nancy’s story starts during World War ll. Nancy is from the town of Irvine, Scotland. Dick was a Canadian soldier. Nancy and her girlfriends were crossing over a bridge one day in the fall of 1943, when some soldiers crossed and were making rude comments to the girls. The girls kept walking and saw another group of soldiers – Nancy was dreading passing them also. Then she noticed they were Canadian! One of them was Dick, and he said to his friends “let’s stop these girls.”

I asked Dick why he wanted to stop the girls. “Just wanted to pick up a girl” came his quick response.

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Nancy had a hat with a veil over her face that day. As they went for a drink, she asked him “How come you asked me when you couldn’t see my face?”

Dick’s honest response was, “I seen your legs.”

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They saw each other for 6 weeks before Dick had to go back to war.

(Here Nancy is showing me where she and Dick met for the first time)

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They wrote back and forth for the next year until one day Nancy got the telegram no one ever wants to receive.

Dick had been wounded and was not expected to live.

Nancy’s parents would not let her go to him in the hospital. He spent 3 months in the hospital and it was 6 months before Nancy could see him again. His first leave after the hospital, Dick and Nancy got engaged. They inscribed the date of the engagement on her ring – she did not want it to be for the real date of November 13, 1944 as 13 is unlucky… so they chose two days before which was a day of celebrating around the world as it was the day the war ended. November 11, 1944!

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They were married in Scotland in 1945. Dick’s family had never met Nancy – but he said his mother was “pretty pleased” because he was one of four boys and she always wanted a girl. When I asked them about their wedding they both started to laugh.

Dick says while laughing, “Never a wedding like ours in a million years.”

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Nancy had to continually keep changing the date of the wedding as she was trying to coordinate it with both Dick and her brother getting a leave from the war to come. Dick jokes that she was more concerned her brother got to the wedding than if he did! Finally the day was set.

Because everything was rationed during the war, it was challenging planning a wedding. Nancy had ordered some steak for the wedding – but then realized without an icebox and not certain that Dick could in fact make it – she had to cancel the order again. When he did in fact come on the wedding day – she went to town in her curlers (on her wedding day!!) to find food for the celebration. She had some coupons for candy. And when she ran into an old acquaintance and he asked her what she was doing – she said “I’m getting married today!”. He offered her candy as well. So she had nice fruit and candy at the wedding.

Nancy borrowed her wedding dress – and was actually the third bride to wear it!

They had the wedding in their hime and the neighbours offered baking. There was one taxi and they had to cram everyone into it. The photographer in town was busy so they had the photographer’s apprentice and had two photos taken. Two. As a photographer I gasped when I Heard only two photos taken. But then they showed me the most beautiful, timeless photo. Two was all they needed. icon smile GOLDEN: Dick and Nancy

They have it hung in their bedroom and Nancy told me she looks at it every single night before she goes to sleep.

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Dick had 11 day leave before he had to go back to his troop. Then he had to return to Canada without Nancy as the ships were only allowed so many war brides each trip. It was 10 months before Nancy’s turn came to come to Canada.

She talked about the week’s passage across the ocean and how excited she was to see the lights in Halifax. From there it was a train ride to Toronto and then on to Hamilton. It was midnight before she got to Hamilton. She was the last one off the train. nancy told us how she had on a black and white tartan and a white blouse. Her mom had told her to tuck the collar in on the blouse until she got there and then turn it out and it would still look fresh.

I said to Dick that she must have looked good to him after all that time. He got this slow grin across his face. “She sure did.”

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Nancy was quick to say they didn’t have a perfect marriage but that they were committed. You “pick each other up and keep going.” And if you stick with it, you’ll find “a stronger love than you had in the beginning. And a closeness.”

Dick piped up. “Love is something that grows.”

Nancy added “Deeper and stronger as it grows.”

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Then the wisdom just started to flow out. They had so much to offer from their 69 years of experience.

“Be open with each other and be there for each other.”

“Perservere and be committed to each other.”

“Every night we tell each other we love each other. We read our Bibles. And we pray.”

Nancy shared part of a favourite verse that has helped in their marriage… “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other”

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On their 50th and 60th anniversaries Dick and Nancy renewed their vows with friends and family. They had a big celebration – and what a reason to celebrate!

When I asked Nancy her wedding date – she said Ground Hogs Day. With a laugh she adds “he stuck his nose out of the ground, I hit him over the head and said ‘you’re mine!’”

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Nancy has some favourite quotes written out she likes to share with people when writing wedding or anniversary cards – she shared them with me.

“Three kinds of love.
Love that takes
Is the love that breaks.
Love that ties
Is the love that dies.
Love that gives
Is the love that lives.”

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And when I left – I left not only with a happy heart full of stories and love, but also fresh baked banana bread! Yum!

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Throughout the whole time together Nancy kept saying, “We have been so blessed. So blessed.” Wishing them many, many more blessings – and thankful for them blessing us with this gift of their experience and knowledge.

Celebrating life and love,


February 21, 2014 Memories of Quebec

For the last couple of Christmases, we have started a new tradition with our girls. We realized they don’t need more “stuff” and instead wanted to give them a memory. So, the tradition is now that they get one Santa gift and then a memory from mom and dad. This year – we said we’d take them to somewhere I’ve wanted to go to since I was their age… Quebec Carnival! The girls have loved visiting Quebec in the past – but had not been in the winter. And Eden had been asking to go see the ice hotel…. so it was time! We just went this past weekend – we joked it was our “Valentine’s/Family Day/Christmas” weekend. Whatever it was – it was a lot of fun! My girls – Madison (11) and Eden (9) are going to help tell about some favourite parts in the blog below. (Please note these are personal pics – some from our little point and shoot – but wanted to share our little adventure with you all!)

We left on Valentine’s day after school and drove to Montreal. And then Saturday morning finished the trip on to Quebec City. We love doing road trips – the girls and Mark love listening to audio books. I can not seem to get in to them – so while they listen, I read. icon smile Memories of Quebec

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The snow in Quebec was crazy – I thought we had a lot of snow this winter! There was SO much snow! Huge snowbanks and piles of snow everywhere. This image is of a fence that you barely even knew was there!

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And then it was time. We arrived at the Carnival!!

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“My favourite part of my Quebec trip was the carnival. I liked going to the carnival because it is a once in a life time opportunity because it is only held in Quebec once a year. They had amazing opportunities and awesome rides. ” (Madison)

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We tried lots of fun games – one favourite was this one – sort of like curling and lawn darts combined!

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We went up on a big ferris wheel – great view of this section of the carnival!

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We were so impressed by the ice and snow sculptures – we took advantage of the sculpting station and tried to create our own. I think we all gave up before our creations were done – much harder than it looks!!

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One of our favourite things was this human foos ball (spelling?) game. We were all strapped in so we couldn’t move and played a round of human sized table top soccer – so ridiculous and fun! We didn’t get a great picture of it because we were all playing – but here’s a photo from my iphone of it!

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We all loved the tube rides!

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Okay – here’s my dorky moment. (Well, one of many). I’ve always wanted to meet Bonhomme. We saw him – and I literally went running over. And hugged him. There was a big crowd and I’m surprised Mark even got a photo of me. Also surprised that my family did not disown me.

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“One of my favourite things at the carnival was the ice slide they had it was entirely made out of ice! It was an experience I’ll never forget.” (Madison) The ice slide was one of my favourites too! You sat on a sled and whipped down this bumpy course racing against one other person. It just so happened when it was the girls turn to go the marching band had just started up! Fun! And even though it was a long line – no one seemed to notice because they had a couple of heated tents – the first one was handing out chapstick and hand warmers – and the second one was a photo booth! Then you exited the photo booth and it was your turn to go! So fun! You can see the girls on the ice slide in this little instagram video HERE

Then we were waiting for the parade, and saw people ziplining through old Quebec – right over the main street (that was closed off for the carnival). We asked how much – included in the carnival pass!! Sweet! I held our stuff well Mark and the girls zipped over top of me. They were the last ones for the day – hard to get photos as they whip by against the black night sky, in dark colours – but you get the idea!

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“I enjoyed zip-lining. I enjoyed this because of the thrill, it felt like you would fall any second. Also it was really cool because it was dark and snowy.” (Eden)

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Then it was the parade!! I unfortunately didn’t have a wide angle lens on – and it was snowing so hard I wasn’t about to change it outside – so there aren’t a lot of photos of the parade. Let me just say though – it was spectacular! The best parade I’ve seen – and the snow just made it extra magical! Every single person in it gave 150%! It was incredible. And also incredibly cold! We all had to give in and admit defeat – after a full day out in the cold, we had to go warm up. It was hard to pull ourselves away!

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Eden having a hard time leaving – look how snow covered her dark hat is though!

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Another thing we did was go to the Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace) – wow! I wondered what all there would be to see at a hotel we weren’t staying at. It was beyond amazing. It’s always between -3 and -5 degrees. It is cool but bearable. The sculptures and carvings are breathtaking!

“I also liked the ice hotel with all the cool (ha ha) rooms and the beautiful designs. What surprised me the most was there was a room based on the movie Frozen!” (Eden)

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The chapel at the hotel – stunning!

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An amazing vacation full of great memories!

Celebrating life and love,


February 12, 2014 GOLDEN: John and Margaret

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[The GOLDEN project can be read about HERE. I will be photographing couples married 50+ years, hearing their stories and sharing their wisdom. Have someone you think I should document for this? Drop me a line at: with the subject "GOLDEN"]

When we sat down at the kitchen table at John and Margaret’s home to chat about life and marriage we enjoyed some casual talk until Marg cut to the chase.

“So, what do you want?” she says to me. Love it. I explained how I wanted to hear their story, and any wisdom they learned along the way.

I started by asking what is their wedding anniversary date.

“April 24, 1948.” Marg was quick to reply.

John pulled out his “blackberry” as Marg jokingly referred to it – a well worn and used notebook – from his shirt pocket and one of his beloved pens he collects. “What was that date again?” he asked and wrote it down. Marg laughed heartily and the ice was broken.

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John and Marg have not only been married for 65 years, they’ve also lived in the same house for over 50 years (since 1960). Their house is filled with stories and memories and I loved being invited in to enjoy them.

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Many years ago, friends of theirs set them up on a date. John said he suggested they go swimming in the river for their first date. Marg was quick to add “That was the most ridiculous thing I’d heard in my life!” Turns out John did in deed swim on that first date, while Marg watched. His spunk must have won her over though because it wasn’t long before they were item.

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They didn’t have much money then and no car, so every where they went was by walking. They would walk down town and go to a show or spend hours window shopping at Simpsons or Eaton’s. They might go to a restaurant – a simple lunch counter – for a bite to eat. They said this simple lifestyle was “just normal” and they didn’t expect anything more.

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I loved how they spoke of education. Even though John did not have a lot of formal education, and Marg had to take time off of school to help the family – they added that they have “studied all of our lives.”

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Marg pulled out a wedding photo, and we talked about their wedding. Their wedding was small. Only family – their parents and siblings were in attendance. They married in the church, and then went to a restaurant for dinner.

While talking about their small wedding, Marg adds that was common then. There weren’t big weddings. “Having a big wedding doesn’t make it last.”

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I asked what advice they had for people newlywed – or just earlier in their marriage journey.

Know the other person really well. Don’t just jump in. Or in the words of Marg, “you make darn sure that you know that person.” They thought people sometimes rush into a marriage – instead they thought you should take your time and really get to know the person you are planning to spend forever with.

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They thought the most important thing though was respect. Respecting the other person.

“They have a role. And you have a role. And you need to both be able to do your roles together.”

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And it’s important to have lots of interests. Until recently Marg enjoyed tai chi, yoga and more – enjoying a very active lifestyle. As we spoke it was obvious she knew what each of her children, and grandchildren were doing and involved in. Family is clearly very important to her.

John has a passion for collecting things. He is an extremely talented refinisher and their home is furnished with beautiful antiques he has acquired and refinished. John showed me some of his collections – pens, watches, pins, photographs, artwork – I loved hearing the history and significance of every piece.

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Marg is a tremendous cook – we enjoyed homemade soup, warm biscuits, and apricot bread for dessert! What a treat!

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After all these years – one last piece of advice they gave is sometimes, when things get rough, you just need to stick it out.

Watching these two interact so naturally – laughing and being so comfortable together, it’s clear we are all glad they “stuck it out” and have enjoyed each other’s company so long!

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Celebrating life and love,


February 11, 2014 Marnie and Andy

Growing up in the North, Marnie loves the snow. SO when we sat down to talk about their engagement photos – we had to do them in the snow! Fortunately it’s been the perfect winter for snow! We enjoyed a morning hike in the Dundas valley – the snow was amazing – and we had so much fun!

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Celebrating life and love,