70 years together
Gilbert Gillies wrote these words to his fiancée, Ruby, back on Nov. 17, 1941: “I love you more and more and miss you more as the days go by and my love and ours is going to last throughout the years.”
And lasted it has—for more than 70 years.
The long-time Emo couple, who now reside at Rainycrest here in Fort Frances, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Jan. 21.
And while they might not be in the best of health, two of the couple’s seven children say the love between them still exists after all these years.
“Dad’s only worry now is checking on mom to see if she’s in her room safely,” noted Betty Holborn of Devlin.
“It was just meant to be,” echoed Evelyn Matthews of Fort Frances, saying her parents always were very loving and had good family values.
“They married for love . . . and you just assumed it was forever,” she added.
“Seventy years is a pretty long time.”
Ruby Sanderson met Gilbert Gillies in Emo back in 1937 when her family had moved there from Saskatchewan. Her older brother, Albert, became friends with their new neighbour.
A few years later, on Nov. 23, 1940, Sanderson and Gillies became engaged.
That same year, Sanderson’s father died at age 55 and her mother returned to Wellington in Prince Edward County on Lake Ontario.
Sanderson went with her.
“Dad was so lonesome,” Holborn noted. “He wrote about how lovesick he was.
“He didn’t even like to go out because he couldn’t bear to see other happy couples.”
Then in January, 1942, Sanderson took the train from Belleville to Kenora, where Gillies was waiting for her.
They purchased a wedding licence before returning to Emo, where they were united in marriage two days later in a quiet ceremony at the church manse.
The couple lived with Gillies’ parents until he was hired at the peat moss plant and were able to purchase a two-room shack in Crozier.
Their first child was born in December.
Over the next years, Gillies took on several different jobs, with the family moving to Atikokan and then back to Emo. Meanwhile, they continued to grow their family, having six daughters and one son.
In all, the couple has seen 70 descendents over their 70 years together.
“They were always lots of grandchildren in their lives,” Matthews noted, adding their father also was very affectionate and loved to give hugs.
She and Holborn are not sure how their parents made it to 70 years, especially since their father suffered from poor health and severe hearing problems for most of his life, which was why he was unable to fight in World War II.
“Dad couldn’t drink alcohol so there was never alcohol in the house,” Matthews added.
“I guess they were just meant to be together.”
The family held a celebration to mark the couple’s 70th wedding anniversary last month.
Matthews indicated her mother, who suffers from dementia, may not recall how long she and her husband have been married.
But when she’s told it has been 70 years, she knows that it is a very long time.
“[They] were definitely in love when they married and you can still feel that love today,” Holborn said.