Seventy years, eight children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren later, Yvon and Simone Essiambre are still going strong.
The couple, who live in The Gardens at Qualicum Beach, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Feb. 23.
The couple’s love story began in the 1940s in the small town of Val-d’Or, Que.
“We were neighbours,” Simone said. “He was about 15, I was always in love with him but he was always gone looking for work.”
Their friendship eventually blossomed into a relationship and the two got married in 1949 when Simone was 18 and Yvon 20. They had a small wedding in a Catholic Church with a singing choir and family in attendance. Simone said the ceremony only cost about $20, which Yvon added that in “those days” was a lot of money.
It wasn’t long after their marriage that Yvon and Simone started their family.
Yvon was a jack of all trades, working as a logger, an electrician in mines and in heavy construction, many times working two jobs at a time. He worked for 16 years in a mine in Quebec and was eventually offered a better-paying job at a mine in Britannia Beach, which brought the family to Squamish.
“We had eight children to take care of, we needed money. We were living on $50 every two weeks for groceries for 10 of us,” Simone said.
Luckily Yvon was an avid fisher and hunter and there was rarely a time when the family’s freezer didn’t have moose meat in it.
Throughout their marriage, the couple bought five homes one of which Yvon built for Simone because “she always wanted a rancher.”
“He built me a rancher in Squamish, it was so beautiful,” Simone said.
The couple moved to Qualicum Beach four years ago to be closer to their large family. Most of their children and grandchildren live in the area, with the exception of two sons in Alberta and one in Ladysmith.
“Most are here,” Simone said. “My great-grandchildren that I love so much.”
Sustaining such a long marriage isn’t always “roses” Simone says, but the eternal love they have for each other has kept them together for so many years.
“I’ve loved him all my life,” Simone said as she looked at Yvon sitting on the couch next to her. “And I hope you love me, too.”
Simone said her and Yvon are opposites. He’s more quite and enjoys watching hockey on TV, while she enjoys singing and dancing.
Today, the couple enjoy shopping together and meals out with family. On Valentine’s Day they will celebrate at their home at The Gardens with a special dinner planned by the staff.
For their anniversary, Yvon and Simone have a big party planned in March where they will celebrate alongside their family and friends.
“I think the kids are more excited then we are,” Simone said with a laugh.