A southern Alberta love story 75 years in the making

Loree and Steele Brewerton celebrated a milestone anniversary last week.

“We’ve been married for how many years?” Loree asked Steele during an interview with Global News.

“75? 75! Oh my, that’s a lot of years.”

Undated photo of Steele and Loree Brewerton. Courtesy: Ilena Brewerton

Loree was born in 1926 and raised in Cardston. Steele was born in 1923 and raised in Raymond.

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In southern Alberta fashion, the couple first saw each other while swimming at the Old Man River during the early 1940s.

It would take some time, but eventually, the pair was set up on a blind date.

“I was surprised I had agreed to it, but look at how it turned out,” said Loree.

Undated photo of Steele and Loree Brewerton.
Undated photo of Steele and Loree Brewerton. Courtesy: Ilena Brewerton

Steele will be the first to admit he was a boring date.

“You thought I was a boring first date too, didn’t you?” Loree asked Steele.

“No, I didn’t,” Steele replied. “I thought you were beautiful. That’s why I kept asking you on dates.”

They got married on May 9, 1946.

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Steele and Loree Brewerton on their wedding day in 1946. Courtesy: Bonny West

Two years later, Steele opened a medical practice in Raymond with Mark Dahl. When the doctor in Magrath moved to Lethbridge, Steele called a friend from university, Harlan Taylor, and asked him to join. The three friends ran the Magrath-Raymond clinic together, adding a fourth doctor, Clare Norton, later on.

The three physicians took turns taking a leave to get their specializations. While on leave, the doctors would split the income from the practices evenly as a way to support each other.

For Steele, that meant going to Hawaii and the United States to get his specialty in obstetrics and gynecology.

“We’re sort of vagabonds, aren’t we?” laughed Loree.

Undated photo of Dr. Steele Brewerton. Courtesy: Bonny West

The Brewertons settled in southern Alberta where Steele worked in general practice and as an OBGYN with his new specialties. His favourite part of work during this time was the house calls.

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If you let him, he’ll be sure to tell you all about them.

“I had quite a few adventures,” Steele said as he grabbed a piece of paper, where he had written some notes.

He remembered one call of a woman in labour at a Hutterite colony. The snow was so deep that his car couldn’t make it off the highway to the sideroad he needed to take to get to the colony. It was about seven miles away.

“They picked me up in a sleigh,” he said. “And they had a fur coat and fur pants for me in the sleigh.”

The sleigh ended up tipping over into a ditch while heading to the call.

Luckily, Steele made it in time.

Undated photo of the Brewerton family in Hawaii, where Steele studied his specialization. Courtesy: Bonny West

On another call, he remembers walking into a house to a smelly surprise.

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“There were cats all over,” he said. “I carried my bag, didn’t set it down, and navigated my way through all the poop.”

The woman had pneumonia and couldn’t walk. When Steele said she needed to go to the hospital, her husband said he was too old and couldn’t carry her.

“So I carried her out to the car,” Steele said. “Through the deep snow that was up to my knees. Her husband carried my bag.”

The house was in such bad condition, Steele said he notified the town to clean up the house for the older couple.

“The town said they couldn’t clean it up, so they burned it down,” he said.

“But don’t worry, the old man and his wife went to live with their children.”

Steele practised in southern Alberta from 1948-79. Then, the family packed their bags and moved to Texas, where he practised for the next 17 years.

It was during their stint in Texas that Loree finished her schooling, and Steele was eager to brag about her academic success.

She attended Midwestern State University and graduated with a double major in history and political science.

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Undated photo of Steele and Loree Brewerton. Courtesy: Ilena Brewerton

At graduation, she was awarded the Governor’s medal.

“Out of 800 graduates, she had the highest mark,” said Steele.

Steele’s successes have also been recognized by a university. He was awarded the Alumni Honour Award from the University of Alberta for the work he did in southern Alberta.

Steele delivered his fair share of babies during his career — some were even his own children.

When asked how many babies Steele thinks he delivered, he said: “To be honest with you, I didn’t count them all.” His daughter estimates thousands.

While working in Texas, he had a woman name her baby after him.

He likes to brag that all the years spent working in Canada and the United States, he was never sued.

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Today, the happy couple are settled in Magrath, where Steele would eventually serve as mayor. They have five children, and according to Loree, too many grandchildren to count.

Steele Brewerton ran for mayor of Magrath and won. Courtesy: Bonny West

“It’s just home,” said Loree. “It was where we basically raised our children, and it just feels like home.”

And, after 75 years of marriage, they have some words of advice.

“Tolerance, forgiveness,” said Loree. “Loving each other in spite of our faults.”

Undated photo of Steele and Loree Brewerton. Courtesy: Ilena Brewerton

Their secret to success?

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“I don’t know any secrets,” Loree said. “Everybody knows — that has been married that long — there are no secrets.

“It’s the most challenging relationship in the world but also the most productive and satisfying I would think.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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