Later in Love: How Two Haligonians Went From Friendly Waves to Tying the Knot
Virgina Olsen and Don Dinn, on their wedding day.
A divorcée and single mom, Virginia (Ginny) Olsen never planned to get married again, let alone to her neighbour just a few doors down. But a decade ago, she did. Here’s how Olsen, 58, and her now husband, Don Dinn, who turns 80 in January, went from polite hellos while passing on the sidewalk to walking down the aisle all over again.
Ginny Olsen: I’d moved into my new house and been divorced for about three years when I properly met Don. Before then, I’d wave to be neighbourly, of course, but I didn’t really know him at all.
Don Dinn: I’ve lived in my house in Halifax for more than 40 years and have been married twice. Both my wives died of cancer, and I’d been alone for a few years.
GO: We were brought together by a collusion of neighbours. My next-door neighbour and good friend started asking, “Do you know Don? He’s very nice.” Her parents, meanwhile, were telling Don about me. This is a very close-knit, multigenerational community. I wasn’t sure at first. There’s a big age difference between us, and I didn’t know if we’d have anything in common. He’s an engineer and I’m an environmentalist. We’re very different. But then my friend said he had a canoe, because she knows I love canoeing, and I thought anyone who canoes must be pretty nice.
DD: I’d been working hard on that canoe and fixed it up really well.
GO: Don is so great at fixing things. One time my dishwasher broke and the same day we went and bought a new one and he installed it and it was working by dinner. I was absolutely blown away. He just gets stuff done.
DD: I usually do, but I was cautious too, so I took my time to finally ask her on a formal first date. It was a double date with my friends to see a Johnny Cash tribute. Ginny and I hit it off, went on more dates, travelled together.
GO: On our second date, he asked me to dance, and surprised me with the Tennessee Waltz. He’s an amazing dancer. Right there I thought, a man who can dance and fix things? What more could a woman ask for? By the way, I asked Don last night what attracted him to me and he had a hard time answering.
DD: Because it was a shower of all kinds of things! She’s so chatty, has all kinds of new and interesting ideas, and we have so much to talk about. I love that we’re so different. That she lived down the street was just a lucky fluke.
GO: We started dating in June, got engaged in December, and got married the following June. It was fast, but let me tell you, I’ve never felt more certain of anything in my life. Though I thought I was certain I’d never get married again, I noticed I was really hoping he’d propose. Then he asked me for my ring size and I asked why and he said … What did you say?
DD: “Because I’m going to get you a friendship ring.”
GO: I said to my girlfriends, “He’d better not get me a friendship ring.”
DD: I could tell she was concerned and knew something was coming but wasn’t sure what. I was waiting for the ring to arrive and I was planning to propose after a neighbour’s Christmas party.
GO: He can’t keep a secret, though. He blurted it all out empty-handed in the kitchen the day before. Then the ring arrived, and he proposed again. We got married at the local canoe clubhouse, by the lake, with about 60 people and all our friends and neighbours. My 12-year-old son and I, ’cause we’re a package deal, plus two cats, all moved into Don’s house. It was a very easy move.
—As told to Rosemary Counter
A version this article appeared in the December 2022/January 2023 issue with the headline ‘Never Say Never’, p. 30.