Oil you need is love

Daniel MacEachern
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N.L. spouses find each other in Fort McMurray, subject of new marketing campaign

Wayne and Sarah Miller of St. John’s and Goose Bay, respectively, weren’t expecting to fall in love in Fort McMurray. But they did, and they’re now part of a publicity campaign by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in Alberta. — Submitted photograph

When Sarah Miller left Goose Bay 10 years ago, she didn’t have a plan other than to work for a while — and get paid $5 an hour more as a travel agent out west than she was getting back home — and see what life brought her.

The travel agent found herself in Fort McMurray in January 2003, free of expectations and free of a recent relationship.

“I didn’t know anything about it. I just knew that I had friends from home there who I had graduated from high school with who had come here,” Miller, 37, told The Telegram from Fort McMurray.


“I decided that because I knew people in Fort McMurray I would come here. I was actually coming with a guy. He was out in Edmonton working, but we split up, so I decided that I was still going, and I came to Fort McMurray.”

Miller said as her plane was landing in Fort McMurray, she felt that good things were in store for her.

Her future husband, Wayne Miller, 38, of St. John’s had been in Fort McMurray since 2000. He’d finished school in automotive technology and found it tough to find work in Newfoundland. Relatives in Fort McMurray told him that Diversified Transportation — whose fleets of buses carry workers from Fort McMurray out to the job sites around the clock — was hiring, so he headed west with the idea of paying off some of his debt. He’s currently working for Suncor.

It was a mutual friend who brought the two of them together.

“She kept telling me about her friend Sarah. ‘You guys would be a perfect match,’ she said. ‘You should meet her.’ So I said, ‘Give me her phone number, we’ll see what happens,’” said Wayne.

Wayne and Sarah played phone tag for a little while, and then Sarah stopped calling him back. Unbeknownst to him at the time, she had recently met someone on online dating site eHarmony and didn’t feel it was fair to date two guys at once.

A few months later, their mutual friend suggested he try again. He called right away, and they went on their first date.

“As soon as he called me, and I know it’s not even five minutes later that he called me, after I talked to Naomi, I knew he was somebody who was pretty super. He didn’t ask one question, didn’t care where I was. He just was that kind of guy who even just wanted to make a new friend. So I knew he was pretty special.”

That was six years ago this summer. The two were married in Jamaica in November 2008. Their story is now being told by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in what they’re calling the Turning Point campaign, which focuses on couples who met in Fort McMurray and settled in the region instead of working for a while and returning home. The Millers are one of six couples featured in the campaign, featured at bigspirit.ca.

“The first year I was here, I was ready to go home a couple of times,” admitted Wayne, with Sarah yelling, “He’s a mama’s boy!” in the background as her husband laughs. But the support network of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in place — “You get your sweet mustard pickles!” he said — helped warm him to the place. Sarah loved it instantly, and the couple has no plans to leave.

Asked what she loves most about Wayne, Sarah thinks about it.

“I want to say ‘everything,’ but sometimes when he doesn’t do the garbage. I don’t love that too much,” she said.

“I absolutely love that Wayne really lets me be who I am. He’s extremely gentle. He’s easygoing. He just is peaceful. I’m not peaceful at all. He creates the balance that we need to have our harmonious life. Plus he’s cute, and he’s super.”

When Wayne gets the same question about Sarah, he answers a little more quickly.

“I’d better keep it PG, eh?” he says, laughing, with Sarah joining in.

“Really — her smile. When I come home from work, even if I have a bad day, when I see her smile it helps brighten my day.”



Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Organizations: The Telegram, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Geographic location: Fort McMurray, Goose Bay, Edmonton Newfoundland Jamaica

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Recent comments

  • W Bagg
    February 14, 2012 - 19:59

    Great for them! Bad for NF, this is all too familiar, losing our younger educated people who lesve for better opportunity. They usually meet someone and settle down never to return. Hopefully where both are from NF they may decide to come back but in cases where only one is from NF, we rarely see them back

  • Donna
    February 14, 2012 - 19:41

    It's nice to read about the love two people share, especially when you know them and know how much they laugh together (or at each other). In this town it is hard to find a balance when there is shift work involved. Luckily Sarah has a home based travel business and can be there to make Wayne's supper every night. LOL

  • Mary Adams
    February 14, 2012 - 17:12

    A great love story Wayne & Sarah!! I have known your parents for a couple of years and It's plain to see you have their caring ways. My very best wishes to you both on Valentines Day & always....

  • Curt Miller
    February 14, 2012 - 16:40

    We see this way too often,our children having to relocate out west to get any type work that pays a Good wage.This is a Good situation to make Good money,but we have to look at Family of these people who are left at Home in their hometowns,the Void of not being able to grow old with the ones they Love.Not everybody can Afford to hop a plane as they see fit to spend any Quality time with their Loved ones.Another Example of how Far BEHIND we Really are here on the old rock.JUST SAYIN!!!!!!!

    February 14, 2012 - 10:30


    • Barb
      February 14, 2012 - 15:44

      LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!!

    • Ivy McCutcheon
      February 14, 2012 - 19:14

      Sarah, that's beautiful. I was so happy for you when your mom told us about your upcoming wedding back in 2008. Always nice to hear of happy relationships. Sounds like you and Wayne have a wonderful life. You never know what life is going to bring your way. Kinda reminds Mac & I of our Good Fortune meeting in Goose Bay.