Powassan couple discuss why their 65-year marriage has worked

When a couple has been married for 65 years it's a given that part of the success to such a long marriage is not only due to love but also some or plenty of forgiveness along the way.

And that's certainly the case with Lindy and Pete Bonell of Powassan who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this past February 1st.

The Bonells were among 14 couples in the municipality who were recognized for marriage longevity in an event dubbed Love is in the Air.

Although not the oldest married couple at the event, the Bonells were the couple married the longest.

The event was for people married at least 40 years and included in person acknowledgements from Mayor Peter McIsaac and Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli.

The couples were also a part of a photo shoot and were serenaded by the Quarter 2 Four barbershop quartet.

The Bonells met at the Balmy Beach Canoe Club on the shores of Lake Ontario in 1954.

Pete Bonell was stationed at Camp Borden about an hour's drive north of Toronto and one Friday night he and a friend left the base for a dance at the canoe club where he met his future wife, Lindy Trott. The couple hit it off and he was back the following weekend for another dance.

It just so happened that the second outing was also when Hurricane Hazel struck although no one at the club was hurt.

Bonell, who was 17 at the time, completed his training at Camp Borden and the airforce sent him to Germany in 1955 just a few months after meeting Trott to work as an electrical technician on F 86 Sabres fighter jets. He would be stationed at the base for two years and during this time Bonell corresponded by mail with the 15 year-old Trott.

The long distance relationship grew because before leaving the airforce near the end of in 1956 to return to Canada Bonell stopped by the air force base store and bought engagement and wedding rings for his soon-to-be bride.

Lindy Trott had no idea Pete Bonell had a pair of rings with him when he returned home, but she wasn't surprised by the marriage proposal.That was Christmas 1956 and the couple remained engaged for a little more than a

until they tied the knot on February 1st 1958.

As a teenager Trott worked as a caddy at the Bigwin Island Golf Club during summers at Lake of Bays near Huntsville. The owner of the resort at that time also owned a stock brokerage firm in Toronto and later Trott worked at the firm typing stock-related statements and invoices. The brokerage firm owner had connections with band leader Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman's drummer Gene Krupa and Trott got to meet both big band musicians. A friend of Trott's got her to get Krupa's autograph but she never thought to get one for herself and neither did she get one of Ellington's.

When Pete Bonell returned from Germany his technical skills got him a job at the Avro aircraft plant in Toronto. It was during this period that the couple married and shortly afterwards Trott applied for a position at the Avro typing pool.

This is where forgiveness starts.

“I wore a yellow, wool-knitted dress to the interview,” Lindy Bonell recalled. “But the night before, Pete forgot to put the car's roof cover up and it rained. To keep my dress from getting wet, he put newspaper pages on the wet seat. When I arrived at the plant for the interview, I couldn't understand why people were laughing.”

It turned out the newspaper pages on the car seat had become so wet that the text and images from the pages got transferred to Trott's dress bottom.

“I tried washing it out but it was ruined,” she said.

Bonell admits that sometimes he didn't think things through. Like when he was doing fiberglass work in the basement which resulted in fumes permeating the Bonell home forcing a short evacuation. Or sometimes using the kitchen table to overhaul car parts like the carburetor because he didn't have a workshed. And then there was the time he used his wife's kitchen mixer to mix paint.

“That's why I say be prepared to do a lot of forgiveness on both sides,” Lindy Bonell said.

Trott got the Avro job but turned it down because she soon learned she was pregnant with the first of their four children.

“I didn't think it would be right for them to train me and then I'm going off a few months later,” said Lindy Bonell.

The Bonells remained in Toronto until the unexpected happened in 1959 and the Diefenbaker Conservative government suddenly shut down the Avro project.

The family relocated to Ottawa where Bonell rejoined the airforce and remained there for a couple of years before transferring to the airbase in North Bay around 1961.

Bonell worked as an air force technician until 1974 when he left military service for good to open Bonell Upholstery. While Pete Bonell did the upholstery related work, Lindy Bonell did the bookkeeping. The couple ran the business until 2000 when they sold it to their oldest child, Bonnie-Sue Bonell-Dowdall. Bonell-Dowdall continues to run the business out of Callander and next year Bonell Upholstery celebrates 50 years of service.

A few years after retiring, Pete and Lindy Bonell made the move to Powassan.

It was Bonell-Dowdall who became aware of the Love is in the Air photo shoot and got her parents into the event. During the event Lindy Bonell started to cry when the barbershop quartet began singing because her daughter is part of Quarter 2 Four.

“I cried because I love my daughter so much,” Lindy Bonell said.

Asked what their biggest accomplishment in life has been and the Bonells both say it's having their four children.

The couple also have five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

So what's their secret to marriage longevity?

“Don't talk back too much,” jokes Pete Bonell. “Don't let arguments escalate to the point that matters become irreversible,” he said on a more serious note.

“Make sure you don't do too many things that irritate the other,” chimed in Lindy Bonell. “And as I said earlier, be prepared for lots of forgiveness.”

The inaugural Love is in the Air event was so successful that the municipality plans to repeat it next year.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget