Manitoulin Island high school sweethearts celebrate their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple

LITTLE CURRENT—Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) high school sweethearts Kayla (nee Corbiere), originally from M’Chigeeng, and Geoff Karn, of Mindemoya, have a long history of romantic Valentine’s Days in their nine years together, but this year will be a first for them: their first Valentine’s as a married couple.

Marrying one’s high school sweetheart is a tradition for both sets of families as both Kayla’s parents and Geoff’s parents met and started dating at MSS.

“I switched public schools when I was 13,” explained Ms. Karn of when she first met Geoff. “I switched from Lakeview School to CMPS (Central Manitoulin Public School) and that’s where I met Geoff. We had the same group of friends and dated, but it wasn’t very serious.”

That said, Mr. Karn still ‘proposed’ to his future wife during their initial courting while on a Grade 8 class trip to Toronto.

“He got a ring from a vending machine and pretended to propose,” Ms. Karn laughed at the memory. “We eventually broke up, be we remained really good friends all through high school.”

Their friendship changed again in 2006 when the couple was in Grade 12 at MSS and started dating again.

“He had a hockey tournament on Valentine’s Day that year, but before he left he planned a big scavenger hunt,” said Ms. Karn. “I went to my locker first and the scavenger hunt took me to different places around the school and there were photos of us and chocolates and the last item was a chocolate cheesecake in the shape of a heart that he had made and buried in the snow. The next day we hung out at his house and he officially asked me to be his girlfriend.”

It’s been nine years since that first Valentine’s Day and the couple’s love has only continued to grow.

Geoff’s parents, Deb and Larry Karn, on their wedding day 33 years ago.
Geoff’s parents, Deb and Larry Karn, on their wedding day 33 years ago.

“Another year for Valentine’s Day he surprised me by taking me skating on Lake Mindemoya,” continued Ms. Karn. “It was this secluded, beautiful spot and the ice looked like glass. He even brought a thermos of hot chocolate. After, we went for treats at a little restaurant in Providence Bay, which has since closed.”

The Karns continued their romance throughout college, both attending Conestoga College in Kitchener and eventually moving back to the Island where they bought their first home in Little Current in November of 2013.

“On Christmas morning (2013) I woke up and Geoff said he was going to go make coffee,” Ms. Karn shared. “When I got down to the kitchen, he was on one knee. I was so surprised I screamed.”

They married the following year on September 20, 2014, surrounded by friends and family.

“Our love keeps growing,” said Ms. Karn of their relationship. “I love him more today then I ever had. He always does little things to show me that he cares like shoveling a pathway to my car and cleaning it off in the winter. I love his humour and we make each other laugh. It’s all I could hope for.”

This year the couple will be celebrating Valentine’s Day at their mutual friends’ wedding in Florida.

Kayla’s parents Glen and Kim Corbiere met at MSS when Kim was 15-years-old and Glen was 16.

“I was originally from Little Current, so we didn’t meet until high school,” said Ms. Corbiere. “We hit it off right away; we were friends first, but then it became more. We will be celebrating our 39 year anniversary this Labour Day.”

Ms. Karn said that her husband gets her red roses each Valentine’s Day, something that he probably learned from his dad Larry Karn.

“He always gets me flowers for Valentine’s Day,” said Deb Karn, Geoff’s mother, of her husband Larry.

Larry and Deb Karn also met at MSS (Larry was from Green Bay and Deb was from Mindemoya) and started dating in high school.

“We knew the same people and were friends,” added Ms. Karn. “I was in Grade 10 and he was in Grade 12 when we started dating. We were together for six years before we got married and we have now been married for 33 years.”

“Larry is very thoughtful,” concluded Ms. Karn. “He still surprises me. It’s definitely lasted and I hope the same for Geoff and Kayla.”