WINNIPEG — At age 94, Abe Corrin can still thread a needle and ride a bicycle. His 92-year-old wife, Betty, still drives a car.
On Feb. 27, the Winnipeg couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with family and friends at a party at the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre.
In an interview at their north Winnipeg apartment, Betty Corrin was happy to bring out letters of congratulations from the Governor General and the Queen, the prime minister, the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, the provincial minister responsible for seniors issues and Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz.
“I married the girl next door,’ Abe Corrin says.
The couple grew up kitty corner to each other in the north end of Winnipeg and met in 1936 through mutual friends.
Gertrude (Betty) Barlin’s parents, Samuel Israel and Freda Barlin, were married in London, England, before settling in Winnipeg. Betty grew up in a family of four brothers and three sisters. Only she and one brother, who lives in Toronto, are still alive.
Abe Corrin is the oldest of six brothers and a sister – born to Samuel and Leah Corrin. All the siblings are still alive.
Shortly after the couple’s only child, Doreen, was born in 1942, Abe shipped out with the Canadian armed forces. He served three years in Newfoundland and on patrol dodging U-boats in the North Atlantic.
Abe is a tailor by trade. For 30 years, he worked with his father in Corrin and Sons Cloak Manufacturing.
“My father was a tailor,” he recalls. “He taught all of us boys to sew, and we all worked in the factory. At one point, we employed about 100 people.”
During the war, he says, Corrin and Sons did a lot of work for the military.
After the war, the company sent a lot of coats to Poland and Russia on behalf of UNICEF.
Abe also worked for several other Winnipeg garment manufacturers, and he spent many years working out of his home on contract. He says he had three sewing machines in his basement.
At 94, he is still working part time as a tailor replacing zippers and repairing linings for private customers. He also creates his own designs. He sews parts of old ties onto his shirts.
Betty worked for 25 years in accounting for three different companies.
The couple lived in their own house until 2004, when they moved into their two-bedroom apartment.
One of the highlights of their week is Wednesdays at the Gwen Secter Creative Living Centre. “We enjoy the lunch, the bingo, and I especially love the dances at Gwen Secter,” Abe says.
Until recently, they travelled widely, with many trips to Hawaii, Palm Springs, Calif., and Florida.
“We used to have a wonderful group of friends we travelled with,” Betty said. “We were like a family.”
Abe added that “we have lived life to the fullest. We have always enjoyed ourselves.”
As well as their daughter, Doreen, and her husband, Abe and Betty have three grandchildren and one great-grandson, who was recently bar-mitzvahed.