The facility of affection: Why a 96-year-old man offered his Ontario home 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 Struggle vet moved there in December 2021 from southern Ontario. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Charlie Comrie is aware of his story is uncommon, and that some might imagine he is misplaced his senses.

However for Comrie, a 96-year-old veteran of the Second World Struggle, all of it made sense when he offered his home in Clinton, Ont., final December to maneuver 3,000 kilometers east to a rural city on the island of Newfoundland.

Comrie now lives in Plate Cove West, a village of about 170 individuals who have welcomed him and his finest good friend Shiloh, a Nova Scotian retriever, with open arms.

However you may surprise why an outdated man would transfer such a distance to reside alongside the tough coast alongside the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

And the reply is easy.


Whereas that is the primary 12 months Comrie has lived in Plate Cove West, he and his spouse, Anna, fell in love with Newfoundland and Labrador in the course of the first of many visits beginning in 2000. They might uncover the group that’s 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 spouse, on their wedding 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 a lot, helps.

“I feel perhaps you may perceive that I do really feel nearer to Anna with this. I actually do,” he mentioned.

It was, in any case, Anna’s want that compelled him to make such a daring transfer — the sort of change he has embraced a number of instances in his life.

A fateful go to

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

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

“Once we met Charlie and Anna first, it was apparent Anna had dementia, however it was simply one thing 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 personal the Spherical Da Bay Inn in Plate Cove West, NL They hosted Charlie and Anna for a few years, and say Charlie provides a lot to their group. (Melissa Tobin/CBC )

They grew to name them The Pocket book couple, after the Nicholas Sparks novel of the identical identify.

“She wanted taking good care of. And he is her man and he takes her wherever she wants, needs to go. They traveled throughout Canada,” mentioned Karen Ricketts.

The couple first got here to Newfoundland the 12 months of Anna’s analysis. They got here again yearly after that, exploring each the island and Labrador, however made an actual reference to individuals each time they got here to Plate Cove West.

It was on the couple’s final go to to the Inn in September 2019 the place they met a bunch of singers who would make a big impact on all of them. Mary Jane Maloney and her barbershop quartet, Shut Quarters, had been visiting concurrently Anna and Charlie. Chris informed her concerning the couple and urged they sing a couple of 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 spouse Anne, on this very room. (Submitted by Mary Jane Maloney)

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

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

Later that fall, Anna’s well being took a flip for the more severe. She was admitted to hospital and later a care residence. Charlie and Shiloh would make their day by day visits, with Charlie serving to with meals and different wants.

However she wasn’t in a position to talk with anybody, even her husband, for a lot 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 bottom of Spherical Da Bay Inn. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

Comrie mentioned he’ll always remember what occurred subsequent.

“Two days earlier than she died, they wheeled her in a wheelchair within the morning, and he or she mentioned to me, ‘My man’ — she did not know my identify at that time. ‘My man. The place are we going immediately?’

“And people had been the primary phrases she had mentioned to me in three weeks. “The place are we going immediately?,” he mentioned.

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

Weekend AM14:09Beginning 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 mentioned, “we’re about to have breakfast proper right here. However the place would you wish to go?’ She mentioned, ‘Newfoundland.’ And I mentioned, ‘We had been there for six weeks. Sure. You need to return?’

“She mentioned, ‘However these girls are so superbly.’ And people had been her final phrases.”

The numerous chapters of Charlie’s life

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

Mary Jane Maloney was additionally there that weekend. She organized a web based name to sing once more for Comrie.

It was this gesture, on high of different acts of kindness from the individuals of Plate Cove West, that cemented his determination to maneuver to the agricultural Newfoundland city.

So, effectively into his 90s, Comrie is beginning a brand new chapter in life. He is busy serving to Chris and Karen with their gardens, he bakes pies, and is even serving to renovate a shed right into a “bunkie” for further sleeping.

Change is simply part of life, one thing he is carried out many instances earlier than.

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

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

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

After his discharge from the military, he went working within the grocery enterprise. He married Anna that very same 12 months, on Sept. 24, 1949. The couple would have 4 kids, three women and a boy. They lived in southern Ontario, transferring every now and then, together 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 final go to there collectively. (Submitted by Karen Ricketts)

At age 59, after greater than 30 years within the grocery enterprise, the corporate was offered and Comrie was laid off.

Too younger to retire, he discovered a brand new profession in flipping homes. He would purchase a home, repair it up, promote it after which transfer on and do it once more. Seven homes and two cottages later, he gave it as much as be a full-time caretaker after Anna was identified with dementia.

It was then that the couple began touring. Comrie mentioned he discovered it simpler not having to fret about meals after they had been on the highway.

They’d good reminiscences, and he knew that even when she did not need to buy groceries with him, he may belief her within the automobile.

“She beloved the automobile,” he mentioned.

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

All the time pondering of Anna

Now a widower, there’s by no means a day Comrie will not be occupied with Anna. His new mates, although, make it simpler.

Together with Chris and Karen, he will get lots of assist from others locally. There’s all the time contemporary home made bread deliveries, there’s assist with the snow clearing, and even rides to St. John’s for medical appointments. Considered one of his new mates is Kim Furlong. She works at Spherical Da Bay Inn and lives simply down the highway from Comrie.

Charlie Comrie drives round Plate Cove West, with Shilho sitting quietly in again. When he appears to be like round on the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, he is aware of Anna can be joyful he was right here. (Melissa Tobin/CBC)

She helps him together with his family chores and helps him renovate a small construction in his yard.

She’s not the one one who’s fallen in love with Comrie. Her entire household, together with her teenage boys, have a passion for his or her new neighbour.

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

Tyson even invited Comrie to his highschool commencement.

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 commencement. The teenager likes to take heed to the tales of his new neighbor. (Submitted by Kim Furlong)

Impressed by Anna’s last phrases, Charlie Comrie feels fortunate to have discovered this place and its individuals. And even at 96, he mentioned he is not going to decelerate.

“I feel it is sort of necessary to have one thing to stand up for. I actually do,” he mentioned.

He hopes his household can come go to him in Newfoundland quickly. In the mean time, he’ll be maintaining busy with the gardens, fixing up his home, together with his devoted pup Shiloh following proper beside him.

When he appears to be like round on the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, he is aware of Anna can be joyful he was right here.

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

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