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Monday, April 22, 2024
NOTL’s couples share meet-cute moments
Terry and Terry MacTaggart met when Terry-he was working as a carny. The two have been married for 58 years. JULIA SACCO
Gary and Tammy Zalepa have a quintessential Niagara love story, meeting while working at the Queenston-Lewiston. JULIA SACCO
Dorothy Soo-Wiens said that what initially drew her to husband Erwin was his ability to make her laugh all the time. JULIA SACCO

Love is everywhere you go in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Valentine’s Day is certainly no exception.

For the year’s most romantic holiday, The Lake Report reached out to some of NOTL’s most familiar couples to share their love stories with our readers. 

Tammy and Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa

They were 20 and 21, working through a university summer employment program when Gary and Tammy Zalepa first met.

“That was the summer of 1990,” Gary Zalepa told The Lake Report.

He added that they were friends first, hanging out with the people working at the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge.

“And then six months later, we started dating,” Gary said.

The couple really bonded after a memorable first date.

“We’re Star Trek geeks, so we went to see ‘(The) Undiscovered Country,’ ‘Star Trek IV’ to be exact,” Gary said.

Beforehand, they got dinner, too.

“I can’t remember where though, because the movie was much more important,” Gary laughed. 

“And 33 years later, here we are,” Tammy said.

The Zalepas are planning a quiet evening this Valentine’s Day, but suggest plenty of places around town for a romantic dinner. 

“I really like the Charles Inn, I would recommend it there. Garrison House is great too,” they said. 

Dorothy Soo-Wiens and Councillor Erwin Wiens

Before getting married in 1991, Dorothy Soo-Wiens and Erwin Wiens made their relationship work long-distance before the convenience of cell phones and the internet. 

“We met at Carleton University,” Soo-Wiens said. “I was in my third year and Erwin was in first year. I was the don on the girls’ floor and he was a first-year on the boys’ floor. Our floors were sister-brother floors.”

After knowing each other for around a year, Wiens took Soo-Wiens out to a fancy dinner at Hy’s Steakhouse in Ottawa.

“I remember it felt kind of awkward at first,” Soo-Wiens laughed. “We were university students at this fancy restaurant in a nice dress and heels but we were taking the bus.” 

After Dorothy graduated, she went home to Alberta, followed by a summer of missions work.

So, a string of long-distance communication started for the better part of four years before they got married.

“I did missions work in Hong Kong, Macau and China, doing missions work all summer and when I got back to my home base I had mail from him,” Soo-Wiens recalled. 

“It was all mail back then – and landline,” Wiens added. 

Their relationship remained strong over the distance, for a reason Dorothy learned only a few years into their marriage.

“I had said to (my roommate), that when I got to know her that one day I would marry her,” Wiens recalled.

“I only learned that a year or so after we were married,” said Soo-Wiens.

After being married now for nearly 33 years and welcoming four daughters, Wiens and Soo-Wiens are a power couple of NOTL.

And it was all thanks to Wiens’s ability to make Soo-Wiens laugh from the start, she said.

Terry and Terry MacTaggart

Terry and Terry MacTaggart, or “the Terrys,” or “Terry-he” and “Terry-she” as they are lovingly known around town, met in a rather unconventional way.

“I got a job at the Canadian National Exhibition at the midway, so I became a carny for two weeks,” Terry-he said.

While manning the nickel pitch stand, Terry-she was working at the Queen Elizabeth building nearby.

“It was a nice building, air-conditioned with nice uniforms and hostesses and all that,” Terry-she said.

“I found a guy working on the CNE midway needed three kinds of women: you need somebody who could feed you food, you need somebody who could feed you drink and you need somebody who could get your air-conditioned,” he joked. 

The two got to know each other and eventually, Terry-he was going away for the weekend.

“I needed a date,” he said.

And to Terry-she’s surprise, her dad approved of Terry-he and allowed her to go away for the weekend with him and a few friends. 

Now in their 58th year of marriage, the MacTaggarts spent their big 50th in an extraordinary way at the CNE.

A friend of theirs was retiring from working the exhibition and organized a special anniversary celebration. 

“We had our own float in the parade with our family, kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles. We had a whole float and we were treated like royalty the whole day,” Terry-she said.

Almost 60 years into their marriage, the Terrys are still celebrating Valentine’s Day: this year, it’ll be at the Performing Arts Centre along with a dinner with friends. 

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