Meet the platinum Pighins

Frank and Aline Pighin have just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary – also known as a platinum anniversary. Platinum, as a precious metal, is more expensive than gold and its chemical and physical properties make it 10 times rarer than gold. The same can be said about Frank and Aline Pighin.  Here is their story as related to me by their granddaughter Shay Jones.  

Frank (Ennio Enore Lanfranco) Pighin, one of six children, was born in Udine, Italy in 1928. He completed Grade 3 in Italy when his parents decided to immigrate to Canada. They arrived in Rossland and because Frank did not speak English, he started school in Grade 1. 

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In 1945, Frank moved to Vancouver Island to work at the Great Central Lake Mill driving a lumber carrier. He said, “I lived in camp and worked night shift. Jobs back then were the way things are supposed to be.  Older people taught younger people. You learned on the job.”  

Frank didn’t have many hobbies other than taking pictures of everything from boats in the harbour to pretty girls.In 1947, he went for an ice cream at the Island Farms ice cream shop and took two photos of the beautiful waitress.  

Two years later, he met her again at a Catholic youth organization event.  In June of 1950, Frank married Aline Cecile Marie Theresa Houle.  

One of eight children, Aline was born in 1930 in Prud’homme, Sask. shortly after her arrival the family moved to Crystal Springs, Sask.  

Her father Joe Houle was the town electrician and ran a small power plant that supplied electricity for the town. He also repaired cars and when he closed the shop for the day, he gave haircuts. He traded four haircuts for a chicken for those that could not afford to pay. 

In 1941, when he lost his shop due to a fire, the Houle family moved to Port Alberni.  

Aline attended St. Anne Convent in Nanaimo for Grade 9, then went back to Port Alberni to finish high school. She was the first to graduate in her family. She worked at the Island Farms ice cream shop and then part time at Woodward’s. When she got married, she worked full time at Woodward’s in the fabric and patterns department until the children started to arrive and then became a stay-at-home mom. 

Shortly after they got married, Frank went to work as an electrician like his father-in-law and his four brothers-in-law at the family business of Houle Electric. He worked for two years in Inuvik with a crew wiring 95 per cent of the electrical needs for the new small town. It was tough being away from the family but they managed with the help of Aline’s family. They wrote letters every week to one another; letters that they still have to this day.

In 1965, Frank, Aline and the first seven of their eight children moved to Prince George to work for a branch of Houle Electric. In 1967, Frank became the manager and in 1984 became a shareholder of the company until he retired at the age of 66.  

They are both long time and involved members of St. Mary’s Catholic Church under the direction of Father Gilbert. 

They have coffee every Monday with their long-time friends and travel mates Gerry and Jewell Bates. 

They love their neighbors and the neighbors love them. They hold annual block parties and BBQs where Frank does the cooking.  

Frank said, “I want to take this opportunity to say I owe my life to our neighbor, Judy, who called 911 and the firemen and paramedics who arrived in time to save my life three years ago. If not for all of them, I would not be here today.” 

Frank reflected back and said, “I worked many long hours but I think Aline probably worked the hardest of anyone. She raised our eight children and worked as my secretary for the company until she retired at the age of 60. We went through good times and hard times but we did it.

 “We have eight children; Garry (Terrie), Darlene, Bernie (Linda), Bert (Shaan), Wayne (Marilyn), Dean (Lauren), Marty and Janet (Keven) who in turn gave us 39 grandchildren and 37 great grandchildren.  When you sit down and count them all, we have 92 people in our immediate family. When we have a family gathering, they all try to be there and that means the world to both of us.  

Aline and Frank concluded by saying, “Love God, your family and your neighbor. Do things to make other people happy and to help them when they need help. The road to a fulfilled life is through cooperation and compromise.”

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