Valley Voices: Couple gets married in the snow

Royce and Nancy Gibson married nearly 60 years ago in Avola

Newlyweds Royce and Nancy Gibson begin married life in Avola

Eleanor Deckert

An interview with a friend or relative who is your elder, yields so many interesting details.

Included here are the questions that were asked as prompts to encourage others to participate in an interview. Jot down the stories of days-gone-by while they are still available.

Collecting these stories, one begins to weave together an ever-more-complete view of life in this part of Canada as history is made through  problems to solve, personal decisions, employment, daily chores and meaningful family moments.

How did you set the date for your wedding?

“I just couldn’t do without her anymore,” Royce Gibson, states as he recalls the day he was the groom.

It has been 67 years since their wedding day on Dec. 27, 1946.

The tone in his voice and the twinkle in his eye on their anniversary conveys his affection, respect and deep, long-lasting love for his bride, Nancy Holt.

When did you first meet each other? Did you stay in touch when he went overseas?

“We were just kids. But in those days, friendships were formed and lasted for years,” Nancy (Holt) Gibson explains.

She has a sensible, steady, cheerful manner, glad to describe what she remembers.

They met in 1938 when the Avola school kids (Royce) had a sports day with the McMurphy school kids (Nancy).

He was 13. She was 12. (see Valley Voices in the Times, Oct. 3, 2013)

Six years later, he left for WorldWar II, serving in 2nd Anti-Tank Regiment of 2nd Canadian Division in Belgium, Holland and Germany.

They wrote letters, as friends, while he was overseas. It was just what people did in those times.

How long were you engaged?

Royce: One year and one week: I asked her on Dec. 20, 1945.

Where was the wedding? What did you do to celebrate? Who came?

Royce: The wedding was across the river from Avola in my grandparents’ home, Will and Edith Gibson, whom I called “Mamie” and Grampa.

They were pleased to host the event since I was the eldest grandson and the first to wed

Who officiated at the ceremony? Did you exchange rings? Did you have guests?

Royce: Rev. Moran of the United Church came up on the train from Birch Island.

Gibsons recentlyNancy: Yes, it was a double ring ceremony. We picked out the rings at a jeweller in Kamloops.

Besides Avola and Birch Island, the minister also led services in Clearwater and Blue River.

My parents and family lived in Birch Island and they arrived by train, too. The Nord family, who were friends from when we lived at McMurphy, also came by train.

Royce: Guests? All of Avola came out! It was minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly -30’C). The river was frozen over and the people walked across on the ice.

How did you know it was safe?

Royce: We had horses and logging and went across all the time. Of course, we tested the thickness of the ice now and then. It got as thick as 27-30 inches sometimes.

What did you wear, Nancy?

Nancy: I chose a grey pin-striped suit for the occasion. At that time you had to be practical when you spent money and I knew I would wear the suit again.

I had fashionable wedge high heels. Royce’s grandmother gave me her gold wishbone broach.

Did you have a cake? a reception? a dinner? a dance?

Nancy: I lived in Kamloops at the time, working in the Royal Inland Hospital. I prepared special diet trays for the patients and also made supper for the nurses on night shift.

I used to walk past a Chinese bakery on the way to school and often bought a treat. I asked the Chinese baker to make my cake.

It was still war-time, you know, so I gave him my sugar ration coupons.

Royce: The reception was at Mom and Dad’s on the Avola side of the North Thompson River. So everyone walked back across on the ice. The family dinner was at my parent’s place, too (Gerald and Mary Gibson).

The dance was in the evening at the present-day Avola Community Hall. The band came up from Vavenby. They got into the sauce, so Nancy and I had to play the last dance after mid-night!

Nancy: I played the piano and Royce played the violin.

Did you have a honeymoon? Where did you live? What was your house like?

Royce: We had $10 between us when we got married. There were no extras like a honeymoon.

Come to think of it, the whole time since then has been a honeymoon!

At first, we lived in the shingle house I had been renting as a bachelor up the hill from the schoolhouse in Avola.

It must be that when the new highway came through it took down that house.

In April we moved into a better house directly across the street from the Avola log schoolhouse where I had gone to school. From 1948 to 1953 we lived at my grandparent’s farm.

We actually traded houses with them when the work got too hard as they aged.

At first we had board furniture. When some money came from the army we bought some furniture.

Nancy: One of our wedding gifts was an airtight wood stove. Another was a quilt that my Grannie and my Mother made.

Were there any other customs for your wedding?

Nancy: Well, here’s a funny thing people used to do: They gave us a shivaree (the dictionary defines “shiveree” as “a mock serenade of discordant noises made with kettles, tin horns, etc.”).

Royce: Since we had no honeymoon, the neighbours all knew where we were that first night.

Nancy: They tried to catch the bride and groom by surprise, outside their house, banging pots and pans. But I had the coffee pot on. We knew they were coming.


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