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Salmo couple marks 70 years

In an age where reaching your 25th wedding anniversary is considered a rare feat, Ed and Margaret John are giving new meaning to the phrase long-term relationship.
Margaret and Ed John of Salmo

In an age where reaching your 25th wedding anniversary is considered a rare feat, a Salmo couple is giving new meaning to the phrase long-term relationship.

Ed and Margaret John marked 70 years together on Saturday.

“It seems such a long time, but we didn’t really think about it until it got here,” Margaret says.

With her English accent she might be mistaken for a war bride, but in fact her family immigrated to Canada from the Hampstead area of London in her youth.

They settled first in Alberta before coming to South Slocan to join her mother’s sister. Her father got a job with West Kootenay Power, where one of his colleagues was a young electrician from Salmo.

Ed and Margaret met playing badminton in the Bonnington Hall.

“He was a good badminton player,” Margaret recalls.

Soon after, World War II began and Ed joined the army. He was stationed in Vancouver, but given a few days leave to come home to be married. He was 23; she was 19.

They were wed on April 9, 1941 by Rev. Canon William J. Silverwood in Nelson at the Church of the Redeemer, which is now a home.

“We were married in the early morning and had a wedding breakfast at Grenville’s Café — it’s the New China Restaurant now,” Margaret says. “We caught the train to Vancouver. I think it left about 10 o’clock. We didn’t get there until the next day about 10. It took 24 hours.”

The new Hotel Vancouver had just been built, and the old one turned into an army barracks, where Ed stayed. He was later sent to Victoria and decided to join the navy. Margaret travelled with him to Hamilton, Halifax, and Newfoundland.

Ed was a chief petty officer on a corvette warship doing convoy duty on a triangle run between Newfoundland, Ireland, and New York.

“The first few years of our lives, there was a lot of separation and anxiety when he was away at war,” Margaret says. “But after that, things went smoothly.”

They returned to Salmo, where Ed’s parents lived, and opened a clothing store, which they ran for 25 years. (It’s now a flower shop.) Ed also started his own electrical contracting business.

They built a house on Main Street across from the post office, where they still live, and had three children: Tom, who lives in Uxbridge, Ont.; Merilyn, now in North Vancouver; and Jennifer, of Salmo. They have eight grandchildren plus 12 great grandchildren “and counting.”

They celebrated their anniversary last month at the Legion Hall in Salmo, a little ahead of the actual date so their great grandkids could come from Ontario during spring break.

“That was very nice,” Margaret says. “There were a lot of people, and most of our family came, which has grown quite a lot. I started out as an only child. Now I’ve got all these relatives all over the place. I think I’ve done very well.”

What’s astonishing, she says, is that both their best man and maid of honour — Wilfred Hearn and Winifred Rae — were on hand for the celebration.

“The two people who were with us when we got married, our best friends, were still there,” Margaret says.

Hearn — a longtime Salmo mayor — was blessed with similar marital longevity. He and late wife Mary were together for nearly 69 years.

What’s the secret to such a long marriage?

“Not dying,” Ed deadpans.

“We always sort of agreed,” Margaret says. “We had times where we didn’t agree but eventually we’d agree and get along. We seemed to manage all right.”

Their daughter Jennifer Mobbs adds: “My mother is from the old school of thought, where the woman had to look after the man, and my mother does this very well. I credit this for keeping my mother young. She looks after my dad very well.”

Her mother is also a perfect hostess, she says. The couple travel often, and see their son frequently, even though he lives in Ontario. They also play a lot of bridge — her father’s passion.

“My mom and dad have had a good life. They are always doing something together.”