Will and Wanda Bierman celebrate their 70th anniversary on June 7. (Barb Brouwer photo)

Will and Wanda Bierman celebrate their 70th anniversary on June 7. (Barb Brouwer photo)

‘I captivated him’: Restaurant encounter leads to 70-year journey for Salmon Arm couple

Will and Wanda Bierman’s 70th anniversary celebration to follow Will’s 90th birthday

By Barb Brouwer


Will Bierman turned 90 on April 1.

“And that’s no joke,” laughed Wanda, his wife of 70 years.

She was a waitress in the King Edward Hotel in New Westminster. He was in the trucking business.

“He walked in for a meal and caught my fancy. He was very handsome and I was gorgeous too,” said Wanda, who was eighteen-and-a-half at the time and not entirely sure when the tall Albertan took to her. “Good lord I don’t know, probably the same time. He was 20 and he married a younger woman.”

Within six months, the couple were wed in Langley where Wanda was raised.

“I captivated him,” she said with a contagious laugh. “We just kind of knew we were meant for each other.”

Like many Europeans, who settled farms in Langley, her family was from Poland and raised dairy cows, chickens and pigs.

Ukrainian and Russian neighbours attended the large, happy wedding that was held June 7, 1952.

“Mom and Dad’s door was always open for anyone who needed a hand out,” Wanda said proudly. “And I am like that to this day.”

The couple began married life in a Burnaby basement suite before moving to various B.C. towns.

Wanda put the cooking skills she acquired at the New Westminster Hotel to several jobs. She was a meat wrapper in Overwaitea and Super Valu and a cook at Newlands Golf Course.

While details have dulled somewhat over the years, Wanda remembers the hotel business the couple owned in Lac la Hache and renting rooms in Kamloops. Will was always in the trucking business and Wanda’s jobs were food related.

The couple had four children, two boys and two girls. They lost one of their sons two days into his 19th year.

Some 10 years ago, the couple decided to give up their business in Kamloops to relax and retire to Salmon Arm.

One daughter lives in Salmon Arm, the other spends time between her home in Aldergrove and her grandchildren in Alberta, and her son is in Salmon Arm but planning to move to Alberta. Will’s sister lives right next door and a nephew lives just up the street.

“I cooked once a week at the Seniors (Activity) Centre, but that was long ago now; back when I was younger,” Wanda laughed, acknowledging that letting everyone have their own opinion and having patience and a sense of humour have been three of the lynch pins in the couple’s long marriage. “Oh yes, he liked my cooking too. I used to make borscht, pierogies and cabbage rolls, but there’s nobody here to eat now and Will isn’t much of an eater anymore.”

Wanda said she and Will are pretty much housebound now as she requires a walker and Will relies on his cane to move about. She fills her day with crossword and word search puzzles, and a little cleaning and resting, while Will watches TV and “does a lot of resting.”

The Biermans used to have a large garden but are unable to tend it anymore.

“I can’t weed any more. If I bend down it will take me two days to get back up,” said Wanda. “We can laugh about it, something has to help as you get older.”

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Will and Wanda Bierman, centre, were married in Langley on June 7, 1952. (Contributed)

Will and Wanda Bierman, centre, were married in Langley on June 7, 1952. (Contributed)