Make Us Part of Your Story: Cecil & Loreen

Cecil and Loreen, 91 & 93, at Chartwell since 2015

It all started on a wintery day at a train station in Terrace Bay, Ontario. While Loreen waited on an empty platform with her male friend, awaiting a train that would take them to Schreiber to see a midnight movie, the temperature dropped to a frigid -40?C. Noticing their discomfort, Cecil, a night operator with CP Rail, invited them to warm up in his ticket office. Loreen remembers the moment well. “While I sat by the fire, I remember barely giving him a glance, yet I did think he could use a shave,” she jokes. A month later, the two met again on a bus, where Cecil asked Loreen if she was “still going with her friend.” When she said no, he persuaded her to go skiing with him—what would be their first date.

When Cecil asked Loreen to marry him less than a year later, Loreen knew it was right. “I was 27 years old, and had always been determined that I wasn’t just going to marry anyone,” she says. “It was Cecil’s character that drew me to him. He seemed fulfilled in what I didn’t have; I knew he was the one.” On October 9, 1950, the couple married, and later had six children together. While Loreen remained at home to care for the children, Cecil worked in various positions on the railway, ending his career as a superintendent. “I used to leave the house at 6:00 a.m. every morning and walk down to the station at Point Claire. At the end of the day, I’d have to turn in early to get a good night’s rest,” he explains. “I really relied on Loreen to keep an eye on things in the late evening. Her love of babies, combined with her education in nursing, made her the perfect mother.” As they watched their close-knit family grow, the couple continued to learn new things about each other too. “Cecil sung on the radio when he was small, and even won a contest where a quart of chocolate milk was delivered to his house every day for a year,” Loreen reveals proudly. “And he also used to play the violin.” Cecil chuckles as she tells the stories. “You’re revealing all of my secrets now, are you?”

It was less than a year ago that the twosome came to the realization that they needed more support with daily chores like cooking and cleaning. “In all honesty, we didn’t look forward to leaving our home, but we knew it was the best decision we could make,” Cecil says. When they first visited their Chartwell retirement residence, a particular memory sticks out in Cecil’s mind. “When we were in the parking lot, a chap came over and asked if we lived there,” he recalls. “When I said we were on a tour, he told us how much he liked living there, and how much we would too.” After trial stays at three different residences, including Chartwell Stonehaven, the pair made their decision, proving the gentleman they had met in the parking lot right.

Today, Loreen is of the opinion that she and Cecil have integrated well into life at their retirement community. “We’re very happy here. We’ve adjusted well—at least I have,” she teases. Together, the couple enjoy the “quality” entertainment their Lifestyle & Program Manager brings in, as well as bus and shopping trips. But, more than anything, they appreciate the support of the home’s staff team. “One of the biggest advantages of living here is feeling a sense of safety and security,” Cecil divulges. “It’s comforting to know that at the push of a button, someone is there for you, even in the middle of the night.” Loreen also believes staff make the home special. “They are caring, patient, and good at what they do. I’m very observant of attitudes, and what first impressed me when we visited was that they respect seniors and treat us as equals,” she says. “Now what impresses me is that everyone knows us by name.”

After more than 65 wonderful years together, it’s obvious that the couple is still very much in love. “I am fortunate to have a wife like Loreen. We are well-suited, even if we don’t always agree. What forever bonds us is our shared love of our family,” Cecil says, grinning as he turns to Loreen. “And of course, our love for each other. Will you keep me, dear?” She grins back at him. “I’m still thinking about it.”