When Cornie and Helen Neufeld were getting married in 1949, they were told their marriage wouldn’t last too long.
But that was hogwash.
Last weekend, the Neufelds celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
“That’s what they all said, ‘You wouldn’t make it,’” Helen says.
Helen, born and raised in Saskatchewan, first came to NOTL when she was 15 years old. She met Cornie the next year when she came back to town to visit her aunt and uncle. It was at her birthday party held at her cousin’s place, and Cornie, who lived across the street on Wall Road, jokes he “crashed the party” with his brother John.
Helen says Cornie was the cute one. He says Helen “struck him.”
Cornie called her the next week to go out – and the rest is history.
They would go out walking “for miles” along Lakeshore Road, says Cornie. Two years later, the couple got married in Helen’s hometown of Glenbush, Sask. Both came from big families and both were 18 years old at the time.
“My parents didn’t say ‘no’ when I brought him. He was OK,” Helen jokes. “My parents were very pleased. We both knew what we were getting into.”
Having come back to Ontario, Helen says she blended in quite well. Their first child Beth was born nine months after the wedding.
Helen worked as a babysitter and also provided domestic work, cleaning homes. Cornie, who started working when he was 15, worked at the GM plant in St. Catharines all his life before retiring at the age of 55. He says he’s been retired for more years than he’s worked.
From owning a farm on Hunter Road to living in a cottage in Huntsville, the couple has moved nine times during their life. The Neufelds now live in Pleasant Manor in Virgil.
“We didn’t stay for too long in one place,” Cornie says. “We bought and sold, bought and sold. We never lost money, we always gained something.”
Their 10-acre farm on Hunter Road was their favourite place to live in, they say, because it was quiet and had lots of space.
The Neufelds say it takes hard work to preserve a marriage, and their faith helped them carry their love throughout the years.
“We care for each other,” Cornie says. “We get along quite fine.”
They say they would have little spats once in a while but, otherwise, life would be “boring” without them. Cornie says they would never keep their arguments unresolved overnight.
Their second son Gary adds that growing up, he never saw spats between his parents.
“Never once,” he told The Lake Report. “Never raised a voice, never an unkind word, ever.”
“That’s what the children grew up with,” adds the couple’s sister-in-law Kathy Neufeld. “So if they had their spats, they had them between the two of them. The kids didn’t know.”
The Neufelds now have five children, 11 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, living all across Canada. All five children and several grandchildren were in town last weekend to celebrate the anniversary.
Marriage has its ups and down, Cornie says.
“I wouldn’t do anything differently,” he says. “It was meant to be.”