An Erskine-area couple, Charlie and Margaret Forsyth, mark a special milestone wedding anniversary on Wednesday. They’ve been married for 70 years.
Last week, the couple reflected on memorable events from their longtime marriage.
“Those were the good years — when tough times came, we just worked and kept going,” Margaret recalled.
While such lengthy marriages are rare, it’s also remarkable that Charlie, 93, and Margaret, 90 next month, still live on their farm in the Ewing Lake district southwest of Erskine.
Both are active and fortunate to have good health. They said they enjoy the country lifestyle.
“I wouldn’t trade the land for anything, in the town or city,” Margaret said.
“I love the country — the land becomes a part of you.”
Charlie takes pride in raising a small herd of Black Angus cows. He said all but one of his 21 cows has already calved this year.
He also tends a flock of ducks, geese and chickens and sets eggs to hatch.
The Forsyths met at a dance in Red Deer, where Charlie was stationed with the army. Margaret was working in Red Deer at the time.
Charlie had been raised at Edam, Sask. Margaret Beer was born and raised on a farm a few miles out of Erskine.
Both were from families of nine children and each is the sole survivor of their siblings.
Charlie and Margaret were married in Red Deer on March 13, 1943. It was during the war years and Charlie was still in the armed services.
Margaret said the best job she had was working at the CPR station. She enjoyed all the people and seeing the soldiers getting off the trains. She recalled there were about five trains a day at that time.
The war ended, and when Charlie came out of the army. he said unemployment insurance paid a dollar a day.
Charlie said he was offered a job that paid 10 cents an hour, but he refused it.
“That wasn’t a job,” he said.
He later took a job plastering that paid 20 cents an hour, and it finally increased to 60 cents an hour.
In 1947, the young couple moved to a farm about 10 miles southwest of Erskine, where they have lived since.
Their son, Cameron, was nine months old when they moved to the farm. A daughter, Linda, was born in 1952.
Charlie recalled that they had bought the home-quarter of land for $2,000.
“I had $75 in my pocket when we came,” he said.
Margaret had become quite accustomed to life in Red Deer and found the adjustment to the remote rural area difficult.
“There were no telephones, no power, no running water,” she said.
“It was strange to live in the country and I was so lonely. I thought it was the end of the earth.”
The long-married couple has witnessed numerous changes.
“The roads were like prairie trails with mud holes,” Charlie recalled.
“A neighbour left his tractor by the mud hole so you could pull yourself out.
“The county used horses to grade the road once during the summer. Gasoline was 10 cents a gallon — and we couldn’t afford it.”
He recalled purchasing a new 28-horsepower Ford 8M tractor for $1,200, a two-bottom plow for $160 and a six-foot tiller for $140.
“You had to spend a lot of hours in the field to get anything done,” Charlie said.
Margaret said she liked hearing the ring of sleigh bells in the wintertime, when neighbours came to visit with their teams and sleighs.
Charlie said when the oil industry came into the area, it was a big help. The Forsyths have numerous wells on their property.
Margaret adjusted to the rural lifestyle and learned “to love the land.”
“The people in the Ewing district were as nice as you could find,” she said.
When he completed his schooling, Cameron farmed with his parents and they raised purebred Angus cattle. That continued until his death seven years ago.
The loss of their only son was a big blow to the couple, but they continue on with the help of neighbours.
They also care for Linda, who is handicapped and lives with them.
A condition of Charlie’s driver’s licence limits his driving to a 10-kilometre radius of his farm.
“We have good neighbours — they help all the time, whenever we need help,” he said.
Nephew John Anderson lives nearby and often lends a hand. He, or neighbour Ursula Corpataux, often drive the couple to Stettler for groceries, appointments or church.
Charlie and Margaret’s long marriage — spanning 70 years — has given them many memories to treasure, they say.
They’re not planning an elaborate celebration to mark the occasion.
“It won’t be anything big — just family in to celebrate,” Margaret said.