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Guelph couple's story of meeting through a message in a bottle goes around the world

Audrey Munroe was 14 and looking for a pen pal from France when she threw a message in a bottle into the English Channel. Instead, she met her husband Pat
20190228 Pat and Audrey Robinson KA
Pat and Audrey are now residents of Riverside Glen, but the couple originally met as pen pals in the 1940s when Audrey threw a message in a bottle into the English Channel. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

First brought together by a message in a bottle thrown into the English Channel in the late 1940s, a couple now living in a Guelph retirement residence says they are receiving messages from people around the world who recently heard of their story.

The Village of Riverside Glen posted the story of Pat and Audrey Robinson to its web site as a Valentine’s Day tribute.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people have called us, spoken to us, contacted us on Facebook — from all over the world,” said Pat.

The story begins in England, when Audrey Munroe was just 14 years old. Her family was on holiday on the Isle of Wight and she cast a message in a bottle over the side of the ferry, hoping it would reach France.

“She threw this bottle in, thinking it would pop across to France, which was only 22 miles away. Of course, it got washed back in to shore,” said Pat.

By chance, Pat’s young cousin picked up the bottle on the shore in the south of England. Her mother passed the message on to Pat, who decided to write Audrey back.

The pair sent messages back and forth for about a year before Pat showed up on Audrey’s doorstep his marching band performed near Audrey’s home town.

“I was in the Marines as a drummer boy,” said Pat. “It was just by chance I said ‘I’ll go see this Audrey Munroe.’

The couple became engaged before Pat was sent to Hong Kong for two years during the Korean War.

“When we were getting together it was terrible, with the wars,” said Audrey.

In 1951 the couple were married and they went on to have three children. This year Pat and Audrey celebrated their sixty-eighth wedding anniversary.

When they moved to Guelph 65 years ago, Pat said the city’s population was about 27,000.

“You used to put one cent in the (parking) meter for 12 minutes,” said Pat. “It was a different world.”

There’s no secret to a long marriage, besides sticking together in thick and thin, said Audrey.

“We used to do everything together, not one here and one there,” she said.

“We’re opposites. Opposites attract,” said Pat. “She has the patience of Job, I don’t have much patience.”

Relationships seem different nowadays, said Pat.

“I don’t know — the way people behave today is foreign to us. Sure, people used to get divorced in our day, but now they don’t even bother getting married anymore. Who’s to say who is right and who is wrong,” said Pat.

Although they both live in Village at Riverside Glen, the couple live in different partys of the facility due to their different needs, but see each other as often as possible.

Sharing the story of how the Robinsons met has had the whole facility buzzing, said Bryce McBain, manager of Village at Riverside Glen.

"The great thing is, their story is starting conversations with the other residents about how they met, said McBain. 

Just over a week after the story went live on the Village of Riverside Glen's web site, Pat said the couple has received messages from as far as Australia.

“Lots have people have asked if it’s true,” said Pat. "Yeah," he said, nodding.

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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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