It’s always Valentine’s Day for Saltair’s John and Anne Silins.
They met in 1954 and their love for each other has never wavered, coming up to 59 years since they were married in May of ‘59.
“We’ve had a love affair that’s been carrying on for 60-odd years,” said John.
“Life has been good. We worked our butts off,” added Anne.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, romantic couples everywhere will be gathering to celebrate the occasion. The Silins will simply be doing what they’ve always done, just enjoying spending the time together.
A sense of humour always helps in a long-term relationship, they believe.
“Oh, definitely,” Anne chuckled.
“I’ve never grown up, I’m still a kid,” laughed John.
“We’ve had a few humdingers of fights,” remarked Anne. “Usually, I make a joke of it. I’m too embarrassed to say I’m sorry.”
John, ever the philosopher, sums it all up this way: “Life is like a bowl of cherries. The thing is to pick all the ripe ones to eat and forget the green ones.”
Anne turned 80 last October and John is heading to octogenarian status this June. Anne was born in England before emigrating to Canada and John in Latvia, becoming a refugee before winding up in Canada.
The Silins both spent their formative years in Victoria and met at the St. Joseph’s Hospital that no longer exists. They both worked there while attending school, Anne at Mount Newton High School and John at Vic High. Anne was making 50 cents an hour working in the cafeteria on weekends and John 86 cents an hour in the kitchen.
“He could afford to take me out,” chuckled Anne. “He had a few more cents than I did.”
“I was a professional pot-washer,” noted John.
“Don’t do it much anymore,” quipped Anne.
John remembers those good old days of spending 25 cents for pie and ice cream, and 75 cents per person to attend evening movies so they actually stretched their earnings quite far.
They were married in Victoria and then went to Ottawa in 1965, spending 40 years there before returning to live on, ironically, Victoria Road, just outside Chemainus in 2005. Better prospects for work made them head east after John got out of university.
“The only jobs that were going on were in shipyards,” he pointed out.
John answered an ad and spent his career as a statistician with the Dominion Bureau of Statistics, later known as Statistics Canada, and eventually with Health Canada for a while. Anne was an X-ray technician, both at clinics here and Grace Hospital in Ottawa for many years.
“Best career I ever had,” she said.
They retired in Ottawa and “we spent several years looking for the perfect retirement place,” John indicated.
They came to this area to renovate the house John inherited from his parents.
“We were just ready to put it on the market,” John noted. “We discussed staying here. Anne said we’ll stay here if you give me a new kitchen.”
Anne got her kitchen and the rest, as they say, is history.
“It was a two-year process,” Anne pointed out between renovating and eventually staying. The Silins have two sons, Andrew, 57, and Norman, 56.
They look back on all their time together as such a blessing.
“We like the same things,” said Anne.
“I’d say love, first, and respect, second,” noted John of their key to longevity.
“And listening to each other which isn’t always easy since I have an argumentative nature,” confessed Anne. “I question everything.”