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McBurneys celebrate 70 years

Love and tolerance are keys to a happy marriage for longtime Tsawwassen couple

The secret to making a relationship work is a little bit of love and a lot of tolerance, says a Tsawwassen great-grandmother as she prepares to celebrate her 70th wedding anniversary today.

Billie and Clare McBurney were married on Dec. 12, 1942 in Billie's childhood home of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan during the Second World War.

Clare says he had a week's leave from his navy posting in Regina, so he gave Billie a call and proposed. They were married the following week.

The wedding was a small ceremony with a few close friends and family members and a cake whipped up by Billie's housekeeper.

"We weren't the partying type, and it was war time," says Clare.

The couple met when Clare moved to Moose Jaw in search of a job during the Dirty '30s.

"Lots of girls were flocking around the new guy," remembers Billie, adding she met Clare through the church choir and the local aquatic club.

The move to Moose Jaw paid off for Clare when he landed a job as an assistant accountant and timekeeper at a nearby mine. That meant when the newlyweds started their life together he had a pocket full of money, which was a lot more than his friends had at the time, he says with a wink.

"We were great pals in Moose Jaw, and it was true that most of the fellows who lived in Moose Jaw married girls in Moose Jaw," says Clare.

After the war the couple moved around a lot while Clare worked for Canadian Pacific Railway.

"Meanwhile, I raised the children," says Billie with a smile.

Their three children were born in Moose Jaw before the family moved to Winnipeg, then Calgary and Montreal before settling down to retire in Tsawwassen, where they have lived for the past 40 years.

Always active in the community, the couple joined church choirs and sporting groups. They have taken part in curling, lawn bowling, golfing and the Delta Music Makers, which Billie joined after deciding to learn to play the saxophone at the age of 65.

Clare, 95, and Billie, 94, have three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, with a seventh on the way.

They will be having a small celebration with family today.