Yukon couple Alice and Arthur John have Canada’s longest marriage

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News
Alice and Arthur John have the longest marriage in Canada.

Alice and Arthur John of Ross River, Yukon, have been married since 1932.

That year, the couple took part in an arranged marriage ceremony in the Dena'ina tradition. Three years later, in 1935, they followed up that ceremony with another, this time in an Anglican church. Their wedding cost $30. There was no honeymoon.

Later that year, a Roman Catholic priest blessed their marriage.

Faith-based organization Worldwide Marriage Encounter Canada recently named this very married couple as the record holders for longest marriage in Canada after holding a nationwide search in which people nominated long marriages. The Johns' 77-year marriage — they couple was nominated with their 1935 wedding date, not the 1932 one — surpassed all other nominations.

Life hasn't been easy for Arthur, now 101, a fur trapper, prospector and one-time mail runner for the Army, and Alice, 96, who sold sewed and tanned hides to supplement their income.

They had 11 children, but diseases and injuries made survival difficult. With little access to medical treatment, only four of their offspring survived into adulthood, the Globe and Mail reported. In 1956, their children were taken from them to attend a residential school in British Columbia. They relocated from the Yukon to B.C. to be near them.

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The Johns' have 38 grandchildren.

"You know, he's been a good provider for us, and Mom taught us all the sewing and everything with the traditional lifestyle … I think they're perfect role models for our kids," Dorothy John, their eldest daughter, told CBC News.

"Alice and Arthur are a delightful couple," John and Irene Morin, a mission couple currently living in Ross River who nominated couple said in a statement. "The whole community of Ross River is looking forward to celebrating this special honour with them."

When Alice was asked if it was ever difficult to stay married for so long, she responded frankly:

"You just do it."

(Photo courtesy Diocese Whitehorse)