The power of affection: Why a 96-year-old man provided his Ontario residence and moved to rural Newfoundland

A smiling elderly man stands with a blue house in the background
Charlie Comrie stands exterior his new residence in Plate Cove West, a rural group in Newfoundland. The Second World Wrestle vet moved there in December 2021 from southern Ontario. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Charlie Comrie is conscious of his story is rare, and that some may think he’s misplaced his senses.

Nonetheless for Comrie, a 96-year-old veteran of the Second World Wrestle, all of it made sense when he provided his residence in Clinton, Ont., ultimate December to maneuver 3,000 kilometers east to a rural metropolis on the island of Newfoundland.

Comrie now lives in Plate Cove West, a village of about 170 people who’ve welcomed him and his most interesting good good friend Shiloh, a Nova Scotian retriever, with open arms.

Nonetheless it’s possible you’ll shock why an outdated man would switch such a distance to reside alongside the robust coast alongside the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

And the reply is simple.


Whereas that’s the main 12 months Comrie has lived in Plate Cove West, he and his partner, Anna, fell in love with Newfoundland and Labrador in the middle of the primary of many visits starting in 2000. They could uncover the group that is Comrie’s new residence 15 years into their excursions of the province.

A framed black-and-white photograph shows a woman in a wedding dress and holding a bouquet
Anna Comrie, Charlie’s partner, on their marriage ceremony ceremony day, on Sept. 24, 1949. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Anna died in 2019, after 19 years residing with dementia. Comrie nonetheless misses her. After 70 years of marriage, being in a spot that she beloved lots, helps.

“I really feel maybe it’s possible you’ll understand that I do actually really feel nearer to Anna with this. I really do,” he talked about.

It was, in any case, Anna’s need that compelled him to make such a daring switch — the form of change he has embraced a variety of cases in his life.

A fateful go to

Just a few of Charlie and Anna’s fond reminiscences had been with Chris and Karen Ricketts, the householders of Spherical Da Bay Inn, a 16-room mattress and breakfast on the first freeway in Plate Cove West, which is nestled on the western facet of Newfoundland’s Bonavista Peninsula.

They keep in mind the couple’s first go to to Plate Cove West, in 2015, very successfully.

“As soon as we met Charlie and Anna first, it was obvious Anna had dementia, nonetheless it was merely one factor about Charlie’s character, how he taken care of her,” says Chris Ricketts.

A smiling man and woman pose in front of a painting of a rural Newfoundland scene.
Chris and Karen Ricketts private the Spherical Da Bay Inn in Plate Cove West, NL They hosted Charlie and Anna for just a few years, and say Charlie offers lots to their group. (Melissa Tobin/CBC )

They grew to call them The Pocket ebook couple, after the Nicholas Sparks novel of the an identical establish.

“She wished taking excellent care of. And he’s her man and he takes her wherever she desires, must go. They traveled all through Canada,” talked about Karen Ricketts.

The couple first acquired right here to Newfoundland the 12 months of Anna’s evaluation. They acquired right here once more yearly after that, exploring every the island and Labrador, nonetheless made an precise reference to people every time they acquired right here to Plate Cove West.

It was on the couple’s ultimate go to to the Inn in September 2019 the place they met a bunch of singers who would make a huge impact on all of them. Mary Jane Maloney and her barbershop quartet, Shut Quarters, had been visiting concurrently Anna and Charlie. Chris knowledgeable her regarding the couple and urged they sing a few songs.

A man and woman look at the camera while sitting at a restaurant table.  A plate of breakfast is before the man.
Charlie Comrie and Mary Jane Maloney sit for breakfast on the Spherical Da Bay Inn. Her barbershop quartet, Shut Quarters, sang for Charlie and his late partner Anne, on this very room. (Submitted by Mary Jane Maloney)

“After they accomplished their lunch, we acquired up from our desk and we merely stood in entrance of them and we sang just a few songs from Vera Lynn. It was really touching,” recalled Maloney.

‘My man. The place are we going instantly?’

Later that fall, Anna’s nicely being took a flip for the extra extreme. She was admitted to hospital and later a care residence. Charlie and Shiloh would make their daily visits, with Charlie serving to with meals and totally different desires.

Nonetheless she wasn’t ready to speak with anyone, even her husband, for lots of weeks.

A smiling man walks a dog on a gravel path connected to a red building in the background.
Charlie Comrie and his canine Shilho stroll the underside of Spherical Da Bay Inn. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Comrie talked about he’ll at all times keep in mind what occurred subsequent.

“Two days sooner than she died, they wheeled her in a wheelchair inside the morning, and she or he talked about to me, ‘My man’ — she didn’t know my establish at the moment. ‘My man. The place are we going instantly?’

“And other people had been the first phrases she had talked about to me in three weeks. “The place are we going instantly?,” he talked about.

LISTEN | Hear Charlie Comrie’s full story in a robust documentary for CBC Radio’s Weekend AM:

Weekend AM14:09Starting over at age 96, the story of Charlie Comrie

Melissa Tobin’s story of Charlie Comrie who moved to rural NL for love

“And I discussed, “we’re about to have breakfast correct proper right here. Nonetheless the place would you want to go?’ She talked about, ‘Newfoundland.’ And I discussed, ‘We had been there for six weeks. Certain. You should return?’

“She talked about, ‘Nonetheless these women are so beautifully.’ And other people had been her ultimate phrases.”

The quite a few chapters of Charlie’s life

After residing alone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic set in, Comrie returned to Newfoundland for a go to inside the fall of 2021.

Mary Jane Maloney was moreover there that weekend. She organized an online based mostly identify to sing as soon as extra for Comrie.

It was this gesture, on excessive of various acts of kindness from the people of Plate Cove West, that cemented his dedication to maneuver to the agricultural Newfoundland metropolis.

So, successfully into his 90s, Comrie is starting a model new chapter in life. He’s busy serving to Chris and Karen with their gardens, he bakes pies, and is even serving to renovate a shed proper right into a “bunkie” for additional sleeping.

Change is just a part of life, one factor he’s carried out many cases sooner than.

A man works on one of several raised gardening beds.
Charlie retains himself busy with work most days, along with tending to the yard at Spherical Da Bay Inn. (Submitted by Karen Ricketts)

He grew up in Toronto. At age 15, Comrie joined the militia to teach so he might later change right into a member of the Canadian Army. In 1945, at 19, he made the one-week voyage from Halifax to England to serve inside the Second World Wrestle. He fought as a soldier in battle, then served as a police officer in Holland.

He sailed once more to North America along with the US navy. He was to be stationed in Georgia. Nonetheless when atomic bombs hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki that August, Comrie was despatched once more to Canada.

After his discharge from the army, he went working inside the grocery enterprise. He married Anna that exact same 12 months, on Sept. 24, 1949. The couple would have 4 children, three girls and a boy. They lived in southern Ontario, transferring once in a while, along with 13 years on a farm.

An elderly man and woman hold hands in a wooden church.
Charlie and Anna in Plate Cove West in 2019, their ultimate go to there collectively. (Submitted by Karen Ricketts)

At age 59, after higher than 30 years inside the grocery enterprise, the company was provided and Comrie was laid off.

Too youthful to retire, he found a model new occupation in flipping houses. He would buy a house, restore it up, put it up for sale after which switch on and do it as soon as extra. Seven houses and two cottages later, he gave it as a lot as be a full-time caretaker after Anna was recognized with dementia.

It was then that the couple started touring. Comrie talked about he found it less complicated not having to stress about meals after that they had been on the freeway.

They’d good reminiscences, and he knew that even when she didn’t want to purchase groceries with him, he might perception her inside the vehicle.

“She beloved the auto,” he talked about.

Kim Furlong and her new neighbor and good good friend, Charlie Comrie. (Submitted by Kim Furlong)

On a regular basis pondering of Anna

Now a widower, there’s on no account a day Comrie is not going to be occupied with Anna. His new mates, though, make it less complicated.

Along with Chris and Karen, he’ll get numerous help from others domestically. There’s on a regular basis up to date hand-crafted bread deliveries, there’s help with the snow clearing, and even rides to St. John’s for medical appointments. Thought-about one among his new mates is Kim Furlong. She works at Spherical Da Bay Inn and lives merely down the freeway from Comrie.

Charlie Comrie drives spherical Plate Cove West, with Shilho sitting quietly in once more. When he seems to be like spherical on the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, he’s conscious of Anna will be joyful he was proper right here. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

She helps him collectively together with his household chores and helps him renovate a small development in his yard.

She’s not the one one who’s fallen in love with Comrie. Her complete family, collectively along with her teenage boys, have a ardour for his or her new neighbour.

“My sons, they love him. Notably the older one. [Tyson] loves his tales. And Charlie’s acquired loads of tales to tell.”

Tyson even invited Comrie to his highschool graduation.

An older man stands next to a smiling teenager, with prom decorations in the background.
Charlie Comrie stands subsequent to Tyson Furlong at his highschool graduation. {The teenager} likes to take heed to the tales of his new neighbor. (Submitted by Kim Furlong)

Impressed by Anna’s final phrases, Charlie Comrie feels lucky to have found this place and its people. And even at 96, he talked about he isn’t going to decelerate.

“I really feel it’s form of essential to have one factor to face up for. I really do,” he talked about.

He hopes his family can come go to him in Newfoundland shortly. In the meanwhile, he’ll be sustaining busy with the gardens, fixing up his residence, collectively together with his devoted pup Shiloh following correct beside him.

When he seems to be like spherical on the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, he’s conscious of Anna will be joyful he was proper right here.

A smiling man wears a T-shirt that reads, Limited Edition 1926 |  Aged 96 years
Charlie Comrie wears a shirt significantly made for him by his new mates in Plate Cove West, to rejoice his 96th birthday. (Submitted by Karen Ricketts)

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