Berthe and Henri Carriere were just 17 and 20 years old, respectively, when they said their vows in front of family and friends Sept. 1, 1952.
Now in their golden years, the couple were once again surrounded by family and friends as they celebrated their 60th anniversary with a party at their Noelville home Sept. 1.
Berthe said she used to pray to the Virgin Mary at night to bring her the right husband. “He's everything I asked for,” she said. “He's a good husband, a good dad and a good grandpa. You cannot ask for more.”
The couple met at a family wedding, when Henri's cousin married Berthe's aunt.
While getting married at 17 and 20 years old seems young by modern standards, Berthe said 60 years ago, it wasn't uncommon.
Berthe and Henri went on to have seven children. They now also have 17 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
All of their children, as well as all of the members of the original wedding party, were among the 130 guests at the 60th anniversary bash.
The couple lived in various areas of Sudbury for the first six years of their marriage before moving to their current home in Noelville. Henri commuted to his job at Inco, while Berthe was a homemaker.
“I make a joke that I wasn't good at school, so my career was to have a family,” Berthe said.
As for what advice they'd give to young couples who are getting married, Henri said everything needs to be a give and take.
“You give, she's got to give,” he said. “It's not all on one side. There's got to be something for both. If you have only the one who gets everything, that's why it doesn't work too much.”
Berthe said advises to “respect your spouse,” and avoid doing anything to them that you wouldn't like them to do to you.
Their oldest child, Richard Carriere, said with so many kids in the family, there was a lot of work to be done when he was young.
“When you're the oldest, you often have to help, he said. “I often had to help do the dishes and different chores. You didn't have time to think much.”
But it wasn't that life was all work and no play.
Richard said he has fond childhood memories of going on Sunday drives to visit his grandparents in the French River area. Afterwards, the family often stopped for treats at a snack bar.
Richard said he's not surprised his parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary.
“It lasted because they communicate a lot in between the two of them,” he said. “They're accomplices. That's why they're still together.”
Norman Carriere, the youngest in the family, said his brothers and sisters always looked after him when he was growing up.
He said he actually spent a few years at home without any of his brothers and sisters there, which he found strange compared to the hustle and bustle of his early childhood.
Berthe and Henri were good parents, Norman said, always providing plenty of food and good clothes for their children.
Norman said he's “very proud” of his parents for making it to their 60th anniversary. “It's nice to see they made it so long and they still have good health to enjoy themselves together,” he said.
Henriette Lafontaine, one of Henri and Berthe's three daughters, said her parents set a great example for their kids. “All of the seven kids are still with their spouses,” Lafontaine said.
She said growing up in such a large family has made her what she is today. “We all had jobs to do, and we did it,” Lafontaine said.