How 8 prominent Canadian couples met

1. Authors Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson: Atwood had just been passed over for the Governor General’s Award for poetry in 1970 when she attended a party for another slighted poet, Milton Acorn, at Grossman’s Tavern in Toronto. Acorn received the first People’s Poet award that night from supportive peers—including Atwood and Graeme Gibson. Gibson was another loser that year, in the fiction category, and Atwood reportedly said to him, “I thought your book should have won the Governor General’s Award.” In the ensuing years, he would photograph and interview her; they became lovers and partners after his marriage to Shirley Gibson had ended.

2. Designers Joe Mimran and Kimberley Newport: In 1990, Newport landed a job as a merchandise manager for Club Monaco, the brand founded by the man who would be her future husband, Joseph Mimran. They wouldn’t meet until later in the decade, when Newport was picked to launch Club Monaco’s lifestyle brand, Caban. Newport became Newport-Mimran when the couple married in 2000, after which they launched the sportswear line Pink Tartan, and later, Mimran created Joe Fresh.

3. Canadian celebrity rockers Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne: They may have circled in the same Juno-approved music crowds for the past decade, but they only met in February 2012, in a recording studio in Paris. Kroeger had signed up to work on Lavigne’s next record, and ended up proposing seven months later with a now well-photographed 14-carat diamond ring.

4. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and partner Jane Rounthwaite: They were feisty undergraduate students at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., in the 1970s, and first met when Rounthwaite interviewed Wynne for a proctor’s job. They became close friends, and Rounthwaite even introduced Wynne to her future husband, Philip Cowperthwaite. When Wynne and Cowperthwaite’s marriage ended in the 1990s, Wynne and Routhwaite began a relationship; they married in 2005.

5. Actors Paul Gross and Martha Burns: They first met—where else?—on the stage. Or, more precisely, at a rehearsal hall in 1983, when both were cast in a production of playwright Sharon Pollock’s Walsh at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. They began a friendship by passing goofy notes back and forth, and tied the knot in 1988.

6. Defence Minister Peter MacKay and activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam: Following her win of the Miss World Canada competition in 2003, Afshin-Jam campaigned and raised funds for a variety of international causes, and began lobbying for the rights of women and children in Iran. She would occasionally reach out to then-foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay, whom she described as a “doer,” someone willing to condemn other nations’ actions, such as Iran’s execution of children. It was a time of very public ups and downs in MacKay’s love life, and it wasn’t until 2010, after Afshin-Jam had moved to Ottawa, that the two began dating; they were first photographed together at the True Patriot Love Dinner, and married in 2012. In April 2013, the couple welcomed their first child, son Kian Alexander.

7. Power couple Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz: When Reisman, the chief executive of Indigo Books & Music, and Schwartz, head of private equity firm Onex Corp., met, they were not such big fish. Schwartz, still a budding financier, was in Montreal in 1977 to consider buying a distillery; Reisman, a single mother and social worker turned management consultant, was advising the distillery’s bank. Schwartz wasn’t interested in the business, but he was interested in Reisman, and the two soon started dating. They moved to Toronto, bought a house in 1981 and were married in 1982.

8. Designer Guys and all-round style gurus Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman: They first crossed paths in a Toronto bar in 1988, arguing over feminism. Hyndman “didn’t understand the whole thing” and Sabados was nervous, and kept dropping his lighter. The two, who both worked at CityTV, moved in together three months later, founded their design company, the Sabados Group, in 1992, and in 2001 got their big break with the launch of the Designer Guys TV show.

Sources: Interviews; news reports; Maclean’s; The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood; Starting Out by Rosemary Sullivan

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