Our love story today is a true tale, and comes from Canadian storyteller Renee' Englot, a story full of "Canadiana" as she calls it.
It was the summer of 1967. On your radio, you might have heard the Beatles’ Penny Lane or the Monkees singing Happy Together. Movie theatres were showing “The Graduate”. Montreal was hosting the World’s Expo. And all across the Canada people were celebrating the nation's 100th birthday.
Phil Burton was a constable in the RCMP, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and his assignment for the summer was traveling with the Centennial Caravan to small towns in Northern Ontario and Manitoba to celebrate Canada’s centennial.
Carol Andrew was a student at the University of Manitoba. Her summer job was working for the Manitoba Department of Agriculture, as an extension home economist. Her assignment involved traveling to local fairs and celebrations to work with 4H groups.
Early in the summer, the Centennial Caravan rolled into Shoal Lake, Manitoba.
That same evening, Carol and her 3 co-workers rolled into Shoal Lake for a 4H rally. Or rather, they limped in to Shoal Lake. The car they were driving broke down outside of town. Members of the Caravan stopped and escorted the ladies into town. Lo and behold they were headed to the same motel. In fact, they were double booked at the same motel. Since the Caravan had checked in earlier, there were no rooms left at the motel, none left in Shoal Lake.
A gallant officer offered up his room, sure that his roommate wouldn’t protest too much about sleeping on the floor in another room.
That was all well and good, but the room Carol and her co-workers had been offered was right next to the party room.
The other small catch was that the aforementioned roommate hadn’t gotten the message that his room was no longer his. He returned from his galavanting, turned the key in the door and discovered four lovely young women who had given up on the idea of sleep and were getting ready to join the party next door.
Phil thought God had sent him down a lovely surprise. Carol thought Phil looked handsome in his orange cut off sweatshirt and shorts.
The next day the two compared schedules and discovered that their paths would cross again at the fair in Swan River and several more times throughout the summer.
At one of the centennial events the two attended, Carol wore an 1867 style dress. She’d made it herself, styled on pictures of her grandmother. She had ringlets in her hair. Phil thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. He knew then that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.
In the spring of 1968 Carol completed her degree and took a job in Minnedosa. Phil was transferred to Brandon, just 30 miles away.
At the New Years Ball, Phil told friends he intended to marry Carol. On February 7th he got around to telling Carol, or rather, asking her. She said yes.
They were married Saturday October 4, 1969 and 46 years later, Carol still thinks Phil is handsome and Phil knows Carol is the most beautiful woman in the world.
Renee Englot says:
As a teen-ager, I began storytelling for children at church and I still enjoy telling Biblical stories. As a teacher I often used story in my lessons. When I did my Master of Arts in Children's Literature, I honed my storytelling skill. For the past five years, I've been working as a professional storyteller, visiting many schools in and around Edmonton, and developing workshops for students, teachers, other storytellers, and corporations. I have told stories to all ages at festivals and cafés across Western Canada, and in the United States.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.