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Alumni love: from undergrads to grandparents, Marika Jaansoo and Bob Owston have been together for 58 years

‘There’s a lot of love between us’
February 10, 2020
By Molly Hamilton

“The fall of 1962 was memorable in the extreme because in Literature 221, offered in Birks Hall by Professor Bryant, I encountered a Goddess,” wrote Bob Owston, BA 66, in an essay to celebrate Concordia’s 25th anniversary in 2001.

Marika Jaansoo and Bob Owston Marika Jaansoo and Bob Owston met in 1962 in a literature class | Photos courtesy of Marika Jaansoo

That goddess was Marika Jaansoo (now Marika Jaansoo-Owston), BA 66, a student majoring in History at Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia’s founding institutions.

“A chance to meet her arrived when fate placed us in a small-sized conference group for discussions,” Owston’s essay continued. “I shopped for a second-hand volume of Norse sagas because I suspected the Goddess was Scandinavian. In an act of bravery fuelled by my ardour I put my gambit into motion and immediately put my life on a new course.”

Five years later, in 1967, the pair married and in 1974, moved to Vancouver, B.C. All told, they have been together for 58 years. The couple have three children and seven grandchildren.

“We’re very busy,” laughs Jaansoo.

‘Bob would just show up in the same classes I was in’

Marika Jaansoo and Bob Owston The Vancouver-based couple have three children and seven grandchildren.

Busy is a through line in Jaansoo and Owston’s love story.

As students they were extremely engaged in various extracurricular pursuits. Jaansoo was on the volleyball and swim teams, did rhythmic gymnastics and jazz dance, and was Faculty of Arts representative for the Women’s Athletic Association in her third year. Owston was on the wrestling team and had to commute back and forth to Sir George from the West Island suburb of Pointe-Claire.

Between classes, meets, competitions and other obligations, the two found time to enjoy each other’s company. One of their favourite things to do was hike to the top of Mount Royal, where they would study.

“We also enjoyed going to Old Montreal –– we love the old architecture,” adds Jaansoo. “We would study the buildings and did a thorough investigation of the area.”

Moreover, Jaansoo and Owston took many classes together. “We didn’t actually plan on it but surprisingly, Bob would just show up in the same classes I was in,” recalls Jaansoo.

The secret to a successful marriage

Although the two have some different hobbies and interests, an important cornerstone of their relationship is being able to find time to enjoy common interests.

Jaansoo, a former rhythmic gymnastics coach, continues to be very active. Her hobbies include painting, ballet and choral singing. Owston, who used to own a trucking company, enjoys old cars and carpentry.

The two have a mutual interest in history, reading, current events, music, cooking and exploring the city of Vancouver and its surroundings.

“We think it’s important to be supportive of each other, take an interest in what the other is doing and learn more about it,” says Jaansoo. “There’s a lot of love between us.”

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