It was October 29, 1925. Thirty-eight year old Albert Brouwer (Opa) finished the chores around his family farm in Lathum, the Netherlands, and made the last minute preparations for later in the day when his wedding guests would arrive for the celebration.
He had surprised most people,when he announced his engagement to Wilhelmina Overeem (Oma). He had met 26 year old Wilhelmina, also known to many as Mina, only six weeks earlier!
Fritz, Albert's younger brother had been working at a farm where Wilhelmina also worked several days a week. Fritz convinced Albert to meet this young woman and proceeded to arrange a meeting between them.
Wilhelmina lived with her family close to a town called Arnhem that would take Albert 1.5 hours to reach by bike. He made this trip three times before they were married making it a grand total of three visits together before they said their marriage vows!
Wilhelmina's family farm was very isolated; "out in the sticks" as the villagers liked to say. It was located a long ways off of the main road, with a rough driveway about 1.5 kms long. This driveway was almost impassable in the winter and since it was later in the summer that Albert and Wilhelmina finally met, Albert suggested they should get married before the winter hit. He convinced his bride-to-be it didn't matter if her trousseau wasn't ready. She would have the rest of the winter to sew her sheets and pillow cases.
Their marriage took place in the church in Lathum and the celebrations were held at Albert's farm where he lived with his older brother, also a bachelor.
The family farm was the exact opposite of how Wilhelmina grew up. They had neighbours on either side of them, even sharing driveways. The neighbours heard, saw, and knew everything that was going on. The village people were traditional and followed strict customs whereas she grew up with traditional, but with an emphasize on Biblical teachings.
On their wedding day, Wilhelmina's mother and sisters thought the wedding was too far away, so only her father, a few of her brothers and a handful of cousins were there to celebrate with her.
Wilhelmina moved into the furnished family farm with her new husband Albert and his older brother.
What a change that must of been for all of them, but both Albert and Whilhelmina had much respect for one another and their marriage worked.
Albert told Whilhelmina he that since he was older, they probably wouldn't have a large family, but they were blessed with eight children, the last child born when he was sixty!
They had a busy household; surviving the war years, taking in guests, (one year they had 95 guests including children) and farming the land. Everyone needed to work hard.
When Albert was sixty-eight years old, the decision was made to immigrate to Canada. Their oldest, married daughter, Jenny and her husband would follow them soon after.
After a new farm had been bought in Ontario, Albert hung up a huge sign for everyone to see: "Ebeneezer" - hitherto, the Lord has helped.
-a special thank you to Cor DeJong and Wendy de Jong for putting together the Brouwer family history book many years ago. All of us who call Albert and Wilhelmina, Opa and Oma, have learned much!-