World War II broke out on September 1, 1939. On September 10, Canada entered the War. Two days later, perhaps wondering what all the commotion was about, Manson Moir entered the world via a nursing station in a remote area called Antler, Saskatchewan.
A few years later, Barbara Hall got her first glimpse of life, born in a hospital in a much bigger community called Thunder Bay, Ontario.
When Manson was five, his family moved to a farm in Tilston, Manitoba, where he’s been ever since. A few steps closer to Thunder Bay – still very rural and still a long way away. Meanwhile Barbara was living the urban life. All she knew about farm life was that her friend’s horse lived on one!
Two very different lives headed in two very different directions!
But then, unknowingly, those two lives inched a little closer. Following high school, Barbara moved to Winnipeg to train as a nurse at the Winnipeg General Hospital. She made a friend – Verla Quane from Melita. Verla had a friend by the name of Manson and, as she gazed into her ‘crystal ball’, she saw a future that included Manson and her new-found friend Barbara together. She suggested that Barbara come home with her to Melita one weekend to meet one of her friends. In other words…she was matchmaking!
Barbara accepted and, on a rainy day in 1964, Verla and Barbara went to a dance, where Manson was sure to be. On route, they noticed a poor young man standing in the rain with a case of beer under his arm. Feeling pity, they pulled the car over to offer him a ride.
It was Manson!
What was Barbara’s first impression of this ‘soaked, beer-case-carrying man’? Not bad! “He was tall and good-looking!” And what was Manson’s first impression of the ‘stranger’ in the car? Well, he was just happy to be out of the rain!
Back in Winnipeg, Barbara decided that this man was worth a second look. So she sent him a card, letting him know of her plans to be in Melita again for another dance. When she arrived at the dance…there was Manson! A relationship began to develop!
Distance prevented them from seeing each other as often as they would have liked. It was hard for Manson to get away from the farm, so the ‘dates’ usually happened by Barbara travelling to Melita. In those days, they kept Canada Post very busy!
Barbara graduated in 1965 and took a nursing job in Brandon – she was getting closer and closer to Tilston! Barbara and Manson were able to see each other more often and the following year, 1966, they were married.
Very quickly, the family began to grow. Mary was born in 1967; two years later, Tim arrived and then, in 1973, the finishing touch was added when George was born. The family has since grown further with the addition of three grandchildren. Of course, it goes without saying that Manson and Barbara are still way too young to have any great-grandchildren!
Barbara has always enjoyed the outdoors, so transitioning to life on the farm came very easy for her. She embraced being a farm-wife, while continuing as a part-time nurse in Melita for 40 years.
Manson retired from farming about twenty years ago, although he did help others out with their farming until just a few years ago. Barbara finally hung up her nurse’s uniform for the last time about eight years ago.
Both have been very active in community life. For thirty-four years, Manson served as a Councillor and as a Reeve. He was also a Director and a President of the Union of Manitoba Municipalities, positions that enabled him to travel throughout most of Canada, making many friends along the way. He has also been involved in other organizations, but there’s not enough space in this column to say what they all were!
Together, they’ve also taken up several causes. They’ve been involved in discussions and policy-making regarding H2S emissions and have gone toe-to-toe with the provincial government on behalf of dog trainers from Georgia and Alabama who were bringing their Pointers and Setters up here to train them to flush out prairie chickens! They continue to be very involved in their local church – the Tilston United Church.
Manson and Barbara have loved the way life has unfolded for them…and they have treasured their fifty-three years of marriage together. For the most part, life has gone very smoothly for them, but that may be challenged this fall. Manson is a die-hard Yankees fan, whereas Barbara roots wildly for her Minnesota Twins. The way things are looking, those two teams may meet on the road to the World Series this year – are there tough times ahead for Manson and Barbara?
A special thanks to Manson and Barbara for taking the time to be interviewed for this column during a tough season. At the time of the interview, they were grieving the loss of three special people – cousins Shirley Paton and Margaret Riddock, and their neighbour, Melba Judd.