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 Pictouâs 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 â from â aways who didnât 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.
âWe were Maritimers moving back east and the company was paying for the move so we thought we were pretty lucky,â 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.
âIt was the 1960s and you either went to Boston or Toronto. I was 19 and I went to Toronto,â 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.
âToronto 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, weâd start in Lansdowne and wind up in Chinatown later in the night,â 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.
âYou could get three pounds of hamburger for .99 cents, but we wanted a house so money was tight. We didnât have any family living nearby so there wasnât much going out on weekends.â
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.
âI still remember the first invitation I got. Sandra Landry called me, asking if Iâd be interested in joining the CWL. I donât know if Iâd have joined without that invitation, but Iâve been there ever since.â
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.
âOur 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 couldnât be a cheerleader because the hockey team had no coach so I wound up coaching four years at Pictou Academy.â
He also played hockey with the Pictou Old Puckers for years.
âI quit that not long ago. I just got tired of chasing 45 year-olds around the rink.â
He went back to coaching when his grandsonâs team needed a coach.
âThere are always a few fans who should stay home, but the kids are great.â
The Curries say they were adopted by Pictouâs Don MacIsaac who died two years ago, leaving a collection of thousands of photographs.
âHe was like a favorite uncle to us. Heâd married late in life and when his wife died he didnât have any family so heâd spend time with us, going to our kidsâ events or just visiting,â said Gerri.
For years MacIsaac organized pilgrimages to St. Anne de Beaupre Shrine in Quebec and Gerri eventually took over from him.
âIt 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. Iâve been there 28 times and Iâm going again with my sister.â
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.
âWe 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 donât know how far weâll be able to go by the time the four year-old is ready,â said Gerri.
Pictou is a different town today from when the Curries settled.
âThe biggest change is the lack of young people so the high taxes are becoming a burden for seniors. You certainly donât have the same numbers going to church. Thereâs not much shopping. No more Y, no bowling anymore,â mused Gerri.
But Mike points to Pictouâs attractive waterfront and good schools, adding a small town is still the best place to live.
âDid I mention weâve got great fishing? Iâve been going to a pool outside town for 20 years and I can get five trout in half an hour.â
About that pool, donât 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 firstname.lastname@example.org