Friday, October 10, 2008

How Queen Elizabeth Changed Our Wedding Date

On July 2, 1964 I proposed marriage to Helen Ireton of Drummond Center and the proposal was accepted. Helen worked at the Royal Bank in Perth, Ontario and I was working in the darkroom at Defence Research Board (DRB) in Ottawa. In August I started a full-time position with DRB at the princely salary of $3220/year. Our plan was to relocate to Ottawa after Helen received a transfer to the city. We decided that we would be married on Thanksgiving weekend: Saturday, October 10, 1964 at St. John's Anglican Church, Innisville. Planning for the wedding commenced. In those days it didn't take a year to plan a wedding. Helen's transfer was arranged very quickly and she was to start work at the Royal Bank, 90 Sparks Street, Ottawa on October 13. We located a new apartment in early September with occupancy on October 1. Seeing as I was in a new job I hadn't accumulated any leave credits so our honeymoon would consist of Sunday and Monday at our new apartment.

My father, Ed White, worked in Ottawa at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor-General, as a greenhouse man and floral designer. Shortly after planning for the wedding started he found out that the Queen and Prince Philip would be staying at Rideau Hall on Thanksgiving weekend and he would be required to work. What to do? We could either postpone the wedding or move it to Friday, October 9. Seeing as our only honeymoon would be a long weekend, we decided on Friday.

Now I've never been much of a church goer but Helen and I had to attend for three Sundays in September for the reading of the banns. It was a bit of a chuckle to hear ourselves referred to as Donald Edward White, bachelor and Helen Isobel Ireton, spinster. Once that was out of the way with no objections raised, everything was a go.

A week before the wedding, I requested the Friday off without pay. As soon as my manager found out I wanted the day off to get married, he readily agreed and then recommended that I be paid for the day as well.

My father, being a floral designer, prepared all the flowers for the wedding. All the food for the reception was prepared at our parents and family friends. Helen's mother baked the wedding cake. A friend from my High School days, Bob Drader, agreed to photograph the wedding if I would return the favour when he was married. My long time friend and bass player for the Mississippi River Boys, Walter Cameron, was best man and his wife, Betty Cameron, matron-of-honour.

Bridal Party - 1964

The guests at the wedding were all the aunts and uncles as well as a cousin of mine, Dave McCarthy, from Toronto whom I'd met while attending Carleton University. Following the wedding, the wedding dinner was held in the basement of the United Church in Boyd's Settlement and catered by the Anglican Church Womens' Guild. Following the dinner we visited with Helen's 84 year old grandmother in Scotch Corners who had been bed-ridden for four years. We then returned to the Ireton family farm for the remainder of the afternoon and early evening. Well the chores had to be done, eh! Cows to milk, pigs and chickens to feed, horses to care for.

Helen's Grandmother - 1964

After the chores were completed we headed off to the hall in Ferguson Falls for a country-style wedding reception. Because I played with the Mississippi River Boys throughout the surrounding counties, the invitation to the wedding reception was open to anyone. Needless to say, the hall was swamped. The music for the reception was provided by a family friend, Milton Symington and his orchestra, from Arnprior. The first dance of the evening was a square dance, something that I'm sure you'd never see at a wedding now.

The First Dance - 1964

To make a long story short, this was the start to what has been an interesting, entertaining and loving 44 years.

And as a final note, as I now repose Between Keyboard and Chair, I'd like to offer my thanks to Queen Elizabeth for her role in making our married life one day longer than we expected.


Keli said...

Your story makes my heart glad! Thanks for sharing the pictures, what a handsome couple!

Gwen Sutton said...

Don White that is a beautiful Story to publish. And in the society that we live in a real marriage is great. thanks for sharing. Gwen

Tashfeen Mahmud said...

beautiful! thank you.

Abimbola said...

Congratulations to you both on your 45th Wedding anniversary...

Abimbola said...

Congratulations to you both on your 45th Wedding anniversary...

marie_davila1 said...

Dear Don and Helen:

This is such a wonderful story same as the wonderful cupple you are!
with love and admiration
your friends
Alejandro and Maria Elena

Whizzed said...

A great yarn and it makes a nice change to read a story like this; sadly lots of the younger generation couldn't care less, my grandchildren included.