The ties that bind

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Mike and Geri Currie

Pictou couple devoted to their family and community

PICTOU -  From Girl Guides and hospital auxiliary to minor hockey and soccer, Catholic Women League and Knights of Columbus, the list of groups that Pictou’s Mike and Gerri Currie have been involved in goes on and on.

     Mike insists Gerri has done more volunteer work than he has, but she argues that is only because he spent so much time on the road before retiring.

           Forty years ago, they were a couple of come – from – aways who didn’t know where Pictou was until a real estate agent took them across the causeway and found them a home they could move into right away with their three young children. 

           “We were Maritimers moving back east and the company was paying for the move so we thought we were pretty lucky,” said Mike.

           He came from a long line of Glace Bay coal miners, but his father did not want him going into the mines and there were few other prospects without leaving home.

           “It was the 1960s and you either went to Boston or Toronto. I was 19 and I went to Toronto,” he said, adding he quickly got a job with the Hallmark card company, a company her worked for until retiring seven years ago. 

           Gerri grew up in a French-speaking family in Minto, N.B. and took a commercial course in high school. At 18, she followed her older sister to Toronto and her first day of job hunting netted her an office job at Hallmark.

           “Toronto was big, but very safe and exciting for young people. We were too young to go clubbing so we went dancing. Four dances every weekend, we’d start in Lansdowne and wind up in Chinatown later in the night,” she remembered.

           But the dancing lasted only until the children came along. Gerri quit work after their first daughter was born and admits there were years when they had to roll their pennies to pay for extras.

           “You could get three pounds of hamburger for .99 cents, but we wanted a house so money was tight. We didn’t have any family living nearby so there wasn’t much going out on weekends.”

           They had three children by the time Mike took a transfer to Nova Scotia, giving them the opportunity to be closer to family and for the children to know their grandparents and cousins. Compared to being in Toronto, the three-hour trip to Minto or Glace Bay was a piece of cake.         

            With Mike on the road all week, it was up to Gerri to get to know the neighbors and the community.

           “I still remember the first invitation I got. Sandra Landry called me, asking if I’d be interested in joining the CWL. I don’t know if I’d have joined without that invitation, but I’ve been there ever since.”

           The Curries joined the curling club and Mike became a charter member of the Stella Maris Knights of Columbus, but it was their children who led them into many activities. Gerri became a Girl Guide leader and a Block Parent organizer while Mike started coaching soccer when his son wanted to play. He also agreed to coach high school hockey, but under different circumstances.

           “Our youngest daughter announced she wanted to be a cheerleader and I told her that was great, off you go, be a cheerleader. Then she told me she couldn’t be a cheerleader because the hockey team had no coach so I wound up coaching four years at Pictou Academy.”

           He also played hockey with the Pictou Old Puckers for years.   

           “I quit that not long ago. I just got tired of chasing 45 year-olds around the rink.”

           He went back to coaching when his grandson’s team needed a coach.

           “There are always a few fans who should stay home, but the kids are great.”

           The Curries say they were adopted by Pictou’s Don MacIsaac who died two years ago, leaving a collection of thousands of photographs.

           “He was like a favorite uncle to us. He’d married late in life and when his wife died he didn’t have any family so he’d spend time with us, going to our kids’ events or just visiting,” said Gerri.

           For years MacIsaac organized pilgrimages to St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine in Quebec and Gerri eventually took over from him.

           “It had grown from Don taking a few people in his car to a 54 seat bus tour with people coming from Pictou and Antigonish areas. I organized the tour for eight years and it was wonderful, but interest gradually died out. I’ve been there 28 times and I’m going again with my sister.”

           Mike jokes that they gave their kids luggage when they graduated high school, but they consider themselves lucky to have their six grandchildren fairly close by.

           “We made a practice of taking each of them away on a week-long trip when they got to be teenagers. We have their undivided attention and we do what they want to do. We still have two to go and I don’t know how far we’ll be able to go by the time the four year-old is ready,” said Gerri.

           Pictou is a different town today from when the Curries settled.

           “The biggest change is the lack of young people so the high taxes are becoming a burden for seniors. You certainly don’t have the same numbers going to church. There’s not much shopping. No more Y, no bowling anymore,” mused Gerri.

           But Mike points to Pictou’s attractive waterfront and good schools, adding a small town is still the best place to live.

           “Did I mention we’ve got great fishing? I’ve been going to a pool outside town for 20 years and I can get five trout in half an hour.”

           About that pool, don’t even think of asking for directions.

- Rosalie MacEachern is a Stellarton resident and freelance writer who seeks out people who work behind the scenes on hobbies or jobs that they love the most. If you have someone you think should she should profile in an upcoming article, she can be reached at r.maceachern@ns.sympatico.ca

 

Organizations: CWL, Stella Maris Knights of Columbus, Pictou Academy

Geographic location: Toronto, Glace Bay, Minto Boston Lansdowne Chinatown Nova Scotia Quebec Antigonish Stellarton

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  • Bev
    April 12, 2014 - 06:50

    I've known the Currie's for a long time--Mike not as well as Gerry- and you will NOT find a nicer couple anywhere. So nice to see a story about them.