South Surrey couple recalls ups and downs in 70 years of marriage

Ernie and Hazel McBratney set to celebrate milestone anniversary next month.

Hazel and Ernie McBratney will celebrate 70 years of marriage on Nov. 15. Below

Learning to accept that life may not always be “smooth sailing” is one of the keys to a long and happy marriage, according to a South Surrey couple set to celebrate their 70th anniversary next month.

Seven decades of marriage hasn’t always been easy for Ernie and Hazel McBratney, the couple told Peace Arch News Sunday, just a few weeks shy of their milestone anniversary on Nov. 15.

“You have to learn to take the ups and the downs,” Hazel, 88, said. “You don’t expect everything to be perfect all the time.”

Ernie, 92, agreed, adding that compromise is one of the most important things a couple can do to make it through the “ups and downs.”

The McBratneys met in Prince Rupert in February 1945, where Ernie was stationed with the Navy, and Hazel was working at the post office.

As Ernie recalls it, an attempt to use his status as a serviceman to skip the post-office queue backfired, when he called out ‘hey red!’ to the “beautiful red-headed woman” working behind the counter.

“She took six strips off of me, said her hair wasn’t red, that it was auburn,” he said with a laugh, noting it took two months for Hazel to agree to go to an airforce dance with him.

After they were married that fall, the couple returned to the Lower Mainland, where they raised four children in south Burnaby. Ernie worked his way up the ranks as a senior buyer for Woodwards, where he stayed for nearly 40 before he retired and the couple moved to South Surrey.

Early in their retirement years, the couple were enthusiastic travellers – by boat, motorhome and airplane – listing the Panama Canal, Hawaii and Mexico as some of their favourite destinations.

A believer in the power of staying positive, Earl published a book of inspirational quotes and phrases about a decade ago, as a means of sharing his optimistic outlook with friends and family.

The McBratneys – who proudly boast seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, with another on the way in December – both agreed that such an upbeat approach has helped them navigate through some of life’s bumpiest roads.

“My philosophy is always get rid of negative ideas, and use positive ideas for success,” Ernie said.

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