6 oh-so Canadian love stories to warm your heart this Valentine's Day
What makes the ultimate Canadian love story? Star-crossed lovers meeting at a Leafs-Habs game, perhaps? Maybe a first date over poutine? A romantic encounter in a canoe?
Truth is, this country is too wide and varied to boil it down to just one story. So we went and found six.
'Basically, socialized medicine grew our love'
Claire and Po often joke that "stroke years" are like dog years — the time that they spent in the Canadian health care system after Claire had a stroke put their love on the fast track.
We used that experience to really solidify our relationship.
The Toronto couple had only been dating for seven months when the stroke happened. A year later the two were engaged. The pair is set to tie the knot this coming spring.
"Basically, socialized medicine grew our love," laughs Claire.
"It could have been a really traumatic time, but we used that experience to really solidify our relationship. Po was an incredible caregiver to me and still today he and I are really good at looking at our various intersecting identities and just showing up for each other."
The pair have been together now for two and a half years and are both busy with careers, school and wedding planning. Since the stroke, Claire has been living with changes in mobility, sensation and energy, but she is now doing advocacy work for disabled people and has gone back to school to study health, disability and sexuality.
'I think we were both freaked out by the feelings'
Ceilidh and Dan met in 2006 when they were fresh out of high school and participating in Katimavik, a national youth volunteer program.
"I had a strong sense that I wanted to get to know Ceilidh as soon as I met her," explains Dan.
"For me, it was love at first sight!" responds Ceilidh. "But I think we were both freaked out by the feelings. We knew we were meant to be but we were so young ... it was hard."
Dan ended up quitting Katimavik and moving to France for some time, and Ceilidh found herself living in B.C. The two spent time dating other people and doing other things, but always kept in touch through letter-writing.
We knew we were meant to be but we were so young ... it was hard.
In 2009, they both found themselves unattached and decided to try things out again. Ceilidh moved across the country to be with Dan and within a week of living together, they decided to get married. The pair just celebrated their six year wedding anniversary.
Now they live together in Halifax where they co-own two restaurants.
"It's probably one of the busiest moments in our lives right now," says Ceilidh. "But it is so important that we make time for each other and we really put our relationship before everything else."
A love tied to the lake
Spencer Fowlie and Ken Ferguson met in the waters of Lake Ontario.
"I had been seeing Spencer around for about a year and kept wanting to talk to him, so when I saw him swimming with a friend of mine at Hanlan's Point Beach [on Toronto Island. Ont.], I knew I finally had my in and I had to go talk to him."
Ken spotted Spencer from far out and swam into the shore to say hello. They chatted that afternoon, went to the disco that night and spent every waking second together for the next two weeks.
I knew I finally had my in and I had to go talk to him.
"I've had the great fortune of living on the West Coast and the East Coast of Canada," says Spencer. "And so my Canadian identity is really tied to the landscape and particularly to bodies of water. It's so fitting that mine and Ken's love is tied to Lake Ontario."
Spencer and Ken have been dating for four months, and they keep things fresh by staying outdoors. They bike around the city, hike around Hamilton and camp when they can.
'Celebrating our chosen BIPOC and queer families'
East Coast dance parties are really unlike any others across Canada. In Halifax it can sometimes feel like the whole city has amassed itself in a particular kitchen, with people spilling out dancing onto decks, stoops and street corners.
"We have friends that create such awesome spaces where people can go and be themselves."
Bria and Tee met online in 2013, and while they started out as just friends, it was Halifax dance parties that led to them falling in love.
"[Back then] we would go out to the old Reflections just acting as each other's 'wingmen,'" says Bria.
But in time their shared love of hip-hop, dance hall and West African music really bonded them and things quickly grew more romantic.
"Dancing for us is about being together and moving away from negative energy," explains Tee. "Yeah, I wait for dance parties like they are therapy," adds Bria, laughing.
"When Tee or DJ Goldilocks is DJing, I feel so safe. We have friends that create such awesome spaces where people can go and be themselves."
Bria and Tee have been together for three years, and both agree that dancing is a quintessential East Coast experience. "Dancing with each other is about celebrating our chosen BIPOC and queer families."
'On that road trip we spent every second together'
It gets hot in Toronto in the summer, and being by the poolside is sometimes the only way to survive it. Larry and Sylvia Singer met while cooling off at a friend's pool 28 years ago and thought it might be love. To really be sure, they decided to put their relationship to the test and leave the city, spending 10 months driving across Canada.
"On that road trip we spent every waking and sleeping second together," recalls Larry. "And we just decided to keep that going, and did it for 27 more years."
We often just sit and hold hands, or I'll put music on my phone and she'll dance.
Larry and Sylvia continued their travelling and spent time living in many different Canadian communities. They especially love Courtenay, B.C., where the two worked together doing therapy work that promoted relationship building. Eventually the pair returned to Toronto where they currently live — although separately.
This past October, Sylvia, who is suffering from dementia, was put into long term care. "She still knows me, and I go and visit her all the time," says Larry. "We often just sit and hold hands, or I'll put music on my phone and she'll dance. Sylvia is my partner, my lover and my best friend."
'Similar roots have helped us stay grounded'
Martina and Andy Lamovsek embody a classic Canadian love story.
The two had been moving in the same circles since they were little kids, but it was when they were 16 that Martina and Andy first started to really notice one another.
"We sort of just always knew each other," explains Martina when asked how they met. "Being of the same Slovenian community meant that we played sports together at the Slovenian Sports Club, went to the same church, both spent our summers at the Slovenian farm."
Their first date was with a group to a Rolling Stones concert, and that was nearly 47 years ago. Now they've just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary.
"We have the shared experiences of being born to immigrant parents."
"Andy and I are great communicators, and having a strong Slovenian community also really helped us to stay together. We have the shared experiences of being born to immigrant parents, the same values and language. These similar roots that have helped us to stay grounded."
Today Martina and Andy live just outside Toronto amidst the same Slovenian community. They've raised three kids together and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their first grandchild.