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Power of Love: Why a 96-year-old man sold his Ontario home and moved to the Newfoundland countryside

Welcome to Plate Cove West, the small town of New Foundland, where Charlie Comley, a veteran of World War II, created his hometown. why. As Melissa Tobin writes, it's an old love story.

A smiling elderly man stands with a blue house in the background
Charlie Comley stands outside the new home of Plate Cove West, a rural community in New Foundland. I am. World War II veterinarians moved there from southern Ontario in December 2021. (Melissa Tobin / CBC)

Charlie Comley knows that his story is unusual, and one might think he's lost his senses. 

But for World War II 96-year-old veteran when he sold his home in Clinton, Ontario, it all made sense. It's good. Last year I moved 3,000 kilometers east to a rural town on New Foundland Island in December.

Comrie currently lives in Plate Cove West, a village of about 800 people, and welcomes him and his best friend Nova Scottian collector Shiloh with open arms. increase.

But you may be wondering why old men travel such distances to live along the harsh coasts along the Atlantic coast.

And the answer is simple.


In the first year Comrie lived in Plate Cove West, he and his wife Anna fell in love with New Foundland and Labrador from the beginning of many visits that began in 2000. 

A framed black-and-white photograph shows a woman in a wedding dress and holding a bouquet
Charlie's wife, Anna Comery, was on her wedding day, September 24, 1949. (Melissa Tobin / CBC)

Anna died in 2019 after living for 19 years with dementia. Comrie misses her yet. After her 70 years of marriage, being in a place she loved so much helps.

"Now you may understand that I'm approaching Anna. That's true," he said. 

After all, Anna's wish was to force him to make such a bold move. This is a change he has accepted several times in his life. 

Fateful visit

Some of Charlie and Anna's nostalgic memories are Round Dabain owners Chris and Karen Ricketts, with 16 beds Breakfast was on the main road of Plate Cove West, on the west side of the Bonavista Peninsula in New Foundland. 

They remember well that the couple first visited Plate Cove West in 2015.

"When I first met Charlie and Anna, it was clear that Anna had dementia, but that was something about Charlie's personality, his care," Chris Ricketts. Says.

A smiling man and woman pose in front of a painting of a rural Newfoundland scene.
Chris and Karen Ricketts are N. L. I own a round dabayin in Plate Cove West. They have been hosting Charlie and Anna for many years, and Charlie says they will add so many to their community. (Melissa Tobin / CBC)

They now call them thenotebookcouple, named after the novel by Nicholas Sparks of the same name. rice field.

"She needed to be taken care of. He is her man and wants to take her where she needs it. They traveled all over Canada. " Karen Ricketts said.

The couple first came to New Foundland in the year of Anna's diagnosis. After that, I came back every year to explore both the island and Labrador, but every time I came to Plate Cove West, I made a real connection with people.

The last time the couple visited the Inn in September 2019, they met a group of singers who had a huge impact on them all. Mary Jane Maloney and her barber quartet, Close Quarters, were visiting at the same time as Anna and Charlie. Chris talked to her about the couple and suggested that they sing some songs.

A man and woman look at the camera while sitting at a restaurant table. A plate of breakfast is before the man.
Charlie Comley and Mary Jane Maloney are sitting at Round Dabayin for breakfast. Her barber quartet, Close Quarters, sang for Charlie and his late wife Anne in this room. (Submitted by Mary Jane Maloney)

"When they finished their lunch, we got up from the table and stood in front of them and sang a few songs from Vera Lynn. Really touching. It was a target, " Maloney recalls.

'My man. Where are you going today?

That fall, Anna's health turned to the worst. She was admitted to the hospital and later to a nursing home. Charlie and Shiro visited daily, and Charlie helped with food and other needs.

But for weeks she couldn't communicate with anyone, even her husband.

A smiling man walks a dog on a gravel path connected to a red building in the background.
Charlie Komley and his dog Silho walk on the ground in Round Dabayin. (Melissa Tobin / CBC)

Comley said he would never forget what happened next.

"Two days before she died, they wheeled her in the morning, and she told me,'my man' — She was at that point I didn't know my name. 'my man. Where are you going today? 

"And that was the first word she said to me in three weeks." Where are you going today? "He said.

Listen | Listen to Charlie Comley's full story in CBC Radio Weekend AM's powerful documentary: NL for love The story of Melissa Tobin of Charlie Comley who moved to the countryside

"And I'm trying to have breakfast here, but Where do you want to go? " She said, "New Foundland." And I said, "We were there for six weeks. Yeah. You want to go back."

"She said, 'But those women are so She sang beautifully. " And that was her last word. "

Many chapters of Charlie's life

After living alone when the COVID-19 outbreak began, Comley returned to New Foundland in 2021. Visit in the fall of

Mary Jane Maloney was there that weekend too. She arranged an online call to sing again for Comley.

That was this gesture. Other kind acts from the people of Plate Cove West solidified his decision to move to the rural town of New Foundland.

So he Entering the 90's, Comley is a new chapter in life. He is busy helping Chris and Karen's garden, baking pies and turning the hut into a "bunky" for extra sleep. I'm helping you.

Change is just one part of life, something

A man works on one of several raised gardening beds.
Charlie cares for Round Dabayin's garden I am busy with work most of the day, including. Carre n Ricketts)

He grew up in Toronto. At the age of 15, Comley joined and trained militia, and later he he was able to become a member of the Canadian Army. In 1945, at the age of 19, he made a week-long voyage from Harifax to England to serve in World War II. He served as a police officer in the Netherlands after fighting as a soldier in battle.

He returned to North America with the US military. He was supposed to be stationed in Georgia. However, when the atomic bomb struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki that August, Comley was sent back to Canada.

After being discharged from the army, he engaged in the grocery business. He married Anna on September 24, 1949, the same year. The couple has four children, three girls and one boy. They lived in southern Ontario and moved from time to time, including 13 years on the farm.

An elderly man and woman hold hands in a wooden church.
Charlie and Anna last visited at Plate Cove West in 2019. (Submitted by Karen Ricketts)

At the age of 59, after working in the grocery business for over 30 years, the company was sold and Comrie was fired.

He was too young to retire, so he found his new career by turning over . He will buy a house, repair it, sell it, then move on and do it again. Then there were seven homes and two cottages, and after Anna was diagnosed with dementia, he gave up making it a full-time caretaker.

Then the couple started their trip. Comrie said that is easier if you don't have to worry about your diet while you're on the go.

They had good memories and knew he could trust her in her car, even when she didn't want to go shopping with him. 

"She loved cars," he said. 

Kim Farlong and her new neighbor and friend Charlie Komley. (Submitted by Kim Furlong)

Always thinking about Anna

Now that she is a widow, Comley is not thinking about Anna There are no days. But his new friends make it easy.

Along with Chris and Karen, he gets a lot of help from the rest of the community. He always has the delivery of freshly baked homemade bread, has the help of snow removal, and even rides St. John's for medical appointments. One of his new friends is Kim Farlong. She works at Round Dabay Inn and lives just off Comley.

Charlie Comley drives Silho quietly behind the Plate Cove West. Looking around the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, he finds that Anna is pleased to be here. (Melissa Tobin / CBC)

She is helping with his housework and refurbishing a small backyard structure .

She wasn't the only one who fell in love with Comley. The whole her family, including her teenage boy, loves their new neighbor.

"My sons, they love him, especially older people. [Tyson] loves his story, and Charlie has a lot of stories. . "

Tyson invited Comley to a high school graduation ceremony.

An older man stands next to a smiling teenager, with prom decorations in the background.
Charlie Comley stands next to Tyson Farlong. He graduated from high school. A teen loves listening to his new neighbor. (Submitted by Kim Farlong)

Inspired by Anna's last words, Charlie Comley feels lucky with this place I found the people. And even at the age of 96, he said he wasn't going to slow down .

He said, "I think it's important to do something. It really is." 

I hope my family will come to New Foundland soon. Meanwhile, he is busy in the garden, repairing his house and chasing his loyal puppy Silho, right next to him.

Looking around the geography of the Bonavista Peninsula, he knows that Anna is pleased to be here.

A smiling man wears a T-shirt that reads, Limited Edition 1926 | Aged 96 years
Charlie Comley wears a shirt specially made by a new friend of Plate Cove West to celebrate his 96th birthday. increase. (Submitted by Karen Ricketts)

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