DUNROBIN – Dunrobin royalty and two of West Carleton’s biggest community leaders, Adele and Leo Muldoon, are celebrating 50 years of marriage this Saturday (Aug. 22).
Roughly 51 years ago Adele, a teacher at the time, went to a Christmas party held by one of her pupil’s parents. A strong, steady hand secured her during a hayride and the rest is history.
West Carleton Online spoke to Leo and Adele’s three daughters Mackenzie and Meghan Muldoon and Melanie Armstrong about their parents’ incredible milestone and two people who are both life-long Dunrobin residents and community leaders.
West Carleton Online publisher Jake Davies has known the Muldoons for nearly 20 years dating back to (and a bit further) covering Adele’s bid for Ottawa city council in 2003 when she lost to Coun. Eli El-Chantiry by 27 votes.
Both Leo and Adele have been strong community leaders volunteering their time with a number of organizations and causes in West Carleton, pitching in and helping out whenever they can and that continues to this day.
Mackenzie says they are perfectly suited for each other.
“Their shared faith, the way they balance each other out,” Mackenzie said as the key to their decades’ long relationship. “For example, my mother worries too much, and my father hardly worries at all. And the fact he can still make her laugh.”
But it was Leo’s actions that first brought the couple together more than 50 years ago.
“The story of how my parents met is a bit of a legend at this point,” the sisters agreed. “My mom was a young teacher in a local schoolhouse. The parents of one of her pupils were having a Christmas party, and as the local teacher she was invited. She was nervous as both her pupils and their parents would be there, and she was eager to make friends her own age in this new community too.”
It was arranged someone would pick her up and drive her to the party.
“One of the events at the party was a hayride, and during the hayride, people were tossing people off the wagon into the snow, and my mother was very nervous to be the target of one of these tosses,” Meghan said. “To her relief, she felt a strong arm behind her, and a voice that said ‘don’t worry. I’ve got you.’ That was my father. Later on, that night he approached her and asked, ‘ya ready to go? Get your coat.’ My mother assumed this was the arranged ride home for her and jumped up to grab her coat. It wasn’t until much later she would discover no one had asked Leo to take her home, he’d just seen the opportunity and taken it. That’s how my father and mother met.”
One of the things the couple have in common is their commitment to their community and volunteerism.
“My mother is very much a leader in the community, she is very outspoken for seniors’ rights, rural rights, and helping anyone she feels may need her,” Melanie said. “She is compelled to be a voice for those who may otherwise not have a voice. My father is more behind the scenes kind of guy. He’s definitely not into organizing, but if someone needs a hand, he’ll be there to lend it. Most of the things he has done to help people out over the years, no one would ever know about except for that person. Often people will come out of the woodwork to tell us about the time my dad came by and saved the day.”
While there’s always trials and tribulations in a 50-year relationship, the daughters agree Adele and Leo’s love for each other continues to this day.
The 2018 tornado tore right through Dunrobin and Leo was working in his barn when it struck. He was seriously injured and spent two months in the hospital recovering from nine broken ribs, two collapsed lungs and a few broken vertebrae. Upon release from the hospital, he spent close to a year rehabilitating from those injuries.
“Last week there was another tornado warning for Dunrobin, the first one my mother received since the tornado hit back in 2018,” Mackenzie said. “She called me from the basement, and I could hear the concern in her voice. She had collected water, food, electronics and their chargers and was herself in the basement but my father was still upstairs. As soon as she had received the alert, she immediately ran outside in her bare feet, to find my father. She found him in his tractor in the new barn (re-built from the first tornado), but he did not, as she expected, jump out and run inside when she shared the news. instead, he said ‘this time, I want to see it coming’.”
The three sisters say examples like that are what they’ve taken as life lessons from their parents.
“Unconditional love,” Mackenzie said. “All of us daughters agree on that one.”
Due to the pandemic, Adele and Leo will not be able to celebrate their 50th anniversary with their beloved community.
“Unfortunately, we are not planning any official gathering for this year due to COVID-19, but we hope to be able to celebrate with my parents for their 51st wedding anniversary, all together,” Mackenzie said. “However, if you do drive by there house on the Dunrobin Road this weekend, you will see a whole collection of cows and hearts all over their lawn, so feel free to honk.”