Later in Love: Bewitched by a Voicemail
An older Canadian couple, Charlene Boyce and Peter Cowley, recount how they found each other online. Photo: Courtesy of Charlene Boyce
Geography could not keep Charlene Boyce, 70, and Peter Cowley, 74, from falling in love.
Charlene Boyce: I’m a retired French-immersion teacher living on Georgian Bay in Ontario. I’m long divorced, with two wonderful sons and two charming granddaughters. The older son coerced me into online dating on OurTime. I signed up in early June 2015 and found Peter’s profile that September.
Peter Cowley: I’m divorced, too, with one child and grandchildren, and I’d been dating online for eight long years. I was convinced I must be doing something wrong. It was dreadful, actually.
CB: My summer online was pretty dreadful too, for the record.
PC: I was so frustrated that I wrote, “If you don’t live in the city of Vancouver, don’t get in touch with me.” I was born in Vancouver, always lived here, and worked at a think tank here for 20 years. Vancouver is in my blood and I wanted someone who loved this city as much as I did. Plus, I was sick of travelling so far.
CB: I’d initially restricted my settings to Ontario but got fed up, too, and had recently changed my settings. That’s when I found Peter’s profile, which was so articulate and proficient. I thought, “This is exactly what I’m looking for. This is my kind of guy.” So I reached out anyway, and asked him to reconsider his parameters.
PC: I was interested enough to give her my phone number, but I didn’t pick up when she called. Charlene left the loveliest message I’ve ever received. As soon as I heard it, I knew. Everything I’d said before about Vancouver didn’t matter. We spent 80 hours on the phone that month. I still have the bill, I think.
CB: Over all those phone calls, we learned that both our fathers were members of the air force during the First World War and both our mothers were French Canadian. Even though we were far apart geographically, our roots were in Quebec. Six months later, when Peter asked me to marry him, my first question was, “Where?” The obvious answer was Quebec City.
PC: She threw a pre-party at the Citadelle de Quebec, which they don’t regularly do, and then the wedding at the Quebec Garrison Club. She did the whole thing. She’s amazing.
CB: By chance, I’d met this fellow on a barstool in a bistro who is a member, and he invited us to have the wedding there. I called Peter and said, “Can you even believe it?”
PC: Of course I could believe it. She just makes things happen all the time.
CB: I’m the luckiest girl in all of Canada.
PC: I tried to get her to move to Vancouver, to go skiing, etc.
CB: But I said, “Are you kidding, Peter? I can’t leave the beauty of Georgian Bay.” We couldn’t decide where to live. Then we thought, we could keep both.
PC: Now we go back and forth based on however we feel. There’s no schedule.
CB: Once we’ve been in the forest a while, when we’re itching for the city, we pack up for Vancouver. And when we need the quiet, we come back. It’s perfect.
—As told to Rosemary Counter
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A version this article appeared in the April/May 2023 issue with the headline ‘Later In Love’, p. 32.
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