With a gleam in their eyes and a grin on their faces, Art and Marjorie Woitte recall meeting each other more than 70 years ago on a boat that was taking them from Canada to England for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
The couple are reflecting on their serendipitous meeting more than seven decades ago as they watch events leading up to the funeral of the Queen — a figure who played a special role in their love story.
While enrolled at a Manitoba college, Art, 20 at the time, said he saw an advertisement on a bulletin board asking if people wanted to go see the Queen’s coronation. Shortly after applying, he was accepted.
We saw her become Queen and we have seen the end of her reign.– Marjorie Woitte, speaking about her husband Art
Meanwhile, Marjorie, 17, was one of a few girls from her high school in Manitoba who was chosen to go on an all-expenses-paid trip to England for the coronation.
Marjorie said her sister was dating someone who knew Art and that he told both of them to look out for each other as they were taking the same boat to England — the Empress of France.
“You can picture me looking for this slim, attractive, dark-haired girl when there were 50 girls dressed in the same dress, looking all the same,” said Art, who is now 91. On the second day, he said, he got to know which one was Marjorie.
The couple first met on the boat’s dance floor.
- WATCH | Art and Marjorie talk about their dance floor meeting
“I was … watching all the time for this Art that I was supposed to find,” said Marjorie, now 87.
“I was quite excited … I had been sea sick the day before … [but] I said, ‘I feel better now — I met Art Woitte at the trip, at the dance.'”
“She’s a very nice dancer and very attractive,” Art said when thinking of that moment on the dance floor. “I think I wrote in my diary, ‘Wow, that was a very nice experience.'”
‘Something like a dream’
When it came time for the Queen’s coronation, Art and Marjorie said they watched it separately from bleachers that lined the streets.
Art was located at The Mall, and said he was up at 3 a.m. that day. Marjorie was watching from the bleachers on Oxford Street, and was there from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“It was very exciting to see that golden coach come along. We just couldn’t believe it,” she said of the Gold State Coach carriage carrying the Queen.
For Marjorie, the whole trip was “something like a dream.”
After the trip, Art and Marjorie went their separate ways, but soon found their way back to each other when they attended the same college.
Four years to the day they met, on May 25, 1957, the couple got married. Since then, the Woittes have had three children and recently celebrated 65 years of marriage.
With tears in her eyes, Marjorie reflected on the Queen’s death and agreed it “completes a circle.”
“We saw her become Queen and we have seen the end of her reign,” she said.
“I think we’ve taken an interest in [the Queen] that we likely would not have otherwise … we thank her for being the reason for our trip.”