Marie Carrier has what most people would want if they were her age.
At 93, her health is good and her mind and memories are still going strong.
“Sometimes when things happen to your kids it makes you think way back,” Marie said. “When I first got married, oh man, it was such a beautiful day.”
Her husband Alphonse was good and nice, she said.
Touching her temple, she said “he’s in there.”
“I will lose him for a moment, but then I think about him and all the things he did for me so that I wouldn’t work so hard.”
She and Alphonse were married for 68 years until his death in 2008.
For many years they were poor too, she added.
“I had to have an operation when our kids were all small and my husband hired a girl to help in the house. There was no money. The wages were going up a little bit, but it took years.”
Born in the French-Canadian village, Zenon Park, Sask., to parents Isaiah and Clara Chabot, Marie was the fifth of nine children.
The family lived on a farm and the children worked hard.
“We milked cows before we went to school. If kids had to do that today there would be no violence because they’d be too busy.”
Life on the farm was good though. There was always lots of food and no chemicals like there are in some foods today, she insisted.
Marie’s mom, however, had a hard life. The family home burnt down after the wood stove chimney caught on fire, and at 35 years of age, Clara was widowed when Isaiah was killed in a hunting accident.
Marie and Alphonse grew up in the same town and were married on Nov. 6, 1939.
They arrived in the Cariboo in 1953 with their four children — Jules, Dennis, Paulette and Laurier — and at that time began to learn how to speak English.
“In Saskatchewan we were supposed to speak English, but we never did,” Marie whispered. “During recess I had some friends and we were supposed to talk English, but it was too hard.”
There’s another “Frenchman” living in Glen Arbor who she met at the elevator.
“We talk in French. He does speak English, but he came from Quebec and in here he never talked to anyone until he met me because he could speak French.”
Marie said she and Alphonse loved the Cariboo instantly.
There was always work and the weather was good.
“In those days they called Williams Lake a banana belt. It was warm all summer. We liked that,” she recalled.
Winters were good too, she insisted.
“We came from Northern Saskatchewan where it was 30 below all winter, 40 sometimes.”
At first they lived at Enterprise, 37 km south of Williams Lake, because there was work for Alphonse there.
Then they moved to 147 Mile and lived in a shack until Alphonse built a “nice little” house.
They did not own a car and had to rely on friends to take them to town to buy groceries.
“That was until we made enough money here to buy a car,” Marie said, adding a car was a luxury.
Their first new car was a Pontiac, and Marie remembered it well.
“We bought it in Williams Lake at a time when there was hardly anything in the town. It was so marvellous to watch Williams Lake grow over the years.”
On Sundays they’d go for a drive to watch small planes land near 11th Avenue when there was little airstrip there.
In the beginning, Alphonse worked in various sawmills, and in between regular shifts, worked as a carpenter.
As a Jack-of-all-trades he could do everything, Marie said.
Eventually they moved into Williams Lake to the Green Acres trailer park and Alphonse was hired as a custodian at Marie Sharpe elementary school, where he stayed and worked for 21 years.
Marie worked as a seamstress, sewing many graduation, wedding, and bridesmaids dresses.
Several of her customers were teachers at Marie Sharpe.
These days she still knits, often making items for the Catholic Women’s League bazaars at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
And she still drives, but not at night because she doesn’t like the lights.
“I’m not ever worried because I’m a safe driver. I know the rules and follow them.”
She has never been stopped by the “cops,” she said, adding she has been driving since 1956.
“When my husband bought me a new car he told me I had to learn to drive.”
Marie is planning to move into Seniors Village in the near future, which she referred to as “the concept,” and said she doesn’t know if she’ll drive anymore,
“Not because I can’t drive, but because I don’t want to anymore,” she shrugged. “I’m 93 so why should I drive? The kids said they’d come and get me.”
Looking out her living room window at Glen Arbor during one of the recent June afternoon thundershowers, Marie admitted her only regret.
“I wanted to become a meteorologist, but my mom could never have afforded to send me to school. In those days most of us only went to Grade 10,” she said.
Smiling she explained how she has always loved to observe the weather and watch changes in the sky.
“I just thank God for giving us so much to look at,” she smiled.