Nova Scotia

One of Canada's longest married couples celebrates 80 years

If you're going to take marriage advice from anyone, you might want to take it from Bill and Bertie Nickerson, who celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary this week.

A week after Bertie's 18th birthday, the Nickersons exchanged vows on Dec. 2, 1935

The couple dated for three years before marrying when Bertie turned 18 in 1935. (CBC)

If you're going to take marriage advice from anyone, you might want to take it from Bill and Bertie Nickerson, who celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary this week.

The couple, who live in Liverpool on Nova Scotia's South Shore, celebrated their 40th anniversary when disco was big. Their 50th anniversary sailed by before the Berlin Wall fell in 1986.

"We have our trials and tribulations," said Bertie, as Bill napped in his chair Friday.

Bill said he knew she was the one as soon as he saw her, back in 1932. He was a strapping 18-year-old man and she was a beautiful 15-year-old girl.

"She came down these stairs. I said, 'It's heaven. She must have come from heaven,'" he recalled in a CBC interview a few years ago.

Bertie said Bill impressed her as a "cute little fellow."

"She came down these stairs. I said, 'It's heaven. She must have come from heaven,'" Bill Nickerson recalled in a CBC interview a few years ago. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC)

They dated for three years, with Bill often walking the five kilometres between their homes during their courtship.

They exchanged vows on Dec. 2, 1935, a week after Bertie's 18th birthday. The Nickersons raised two sons but lost their oldest, Michael, to a heart attack five years ago. They have relatives nearby and a network of friends who keep an eye on them.

'We look out for each other'

Bill is now 101 and Bertie is 98. Bill has had several heart attacks and both have difficulty walking, but they continue to live in the family home they built 65 years ago.  

"We're still in our house. We've been told a couple of times that it was time that we went into a home and let them take care of us but we say, 'No, we're staying in our own house just as long as we can,'" said Bertie.

And the secret to a long and happy marriage?

"I can't tell them anything — why and how we've stayed together as long as we have — but we have," said Bertie.

"All I can say is that Bill's easy to live with and I guess I'm all right for him to live with. We look out for each other."

Bill said the secret is simple. "All you have to do is agree," he said, adding he'll live forever with Bertie by his side.

"I wouldn't trade her for the world, I love her every minute."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.