True Romance –The Rebins


The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
10 Dec 1989, Sun  •  Page 49

December 1989

Norm and Delva Rebin found the perfect way to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary last month. The Almonte couple packed off family and friends including their original best man and matron of honor to Stockholm, Sweden, where they had eloped, and renewed their vows. The Rebins discovered that in some ways, their second Nov. 9 wedding was even more special than their first.

“It was like stepping into a very lovely cocoon,” Delva, 52, says of their remarriage in a heritage church at Sweden’s famous Skansen theme park. “It really was quite astonishing. We were surrounded by people we hadn’t seen in 30 years, with this lovely candlelight ceremony in this gorgeous old church. “But there were our three big kids standing tall as our attendants. There were lots of warm, fuzzy moments.”

Adds Norm, 51: “It was one of the most exquisite emotional experiences of my life. When Delva got cancer five years ago, I thought I was going to lose her, so it was particularly special to celebrate this moment together. “I just felt overwhelming gratitude and tremendous appreciation for this wonderful woman, and I felt this heightened excitement to take our love affair to the hilt.

Doukhobor duo: “The other big difference is that the first time around, you’re so nervous. You don’t remember anything. This time, it was like everything was in slow motion. You see all the relationships, all the special moments.” Norm and Delva’s fairy-tale anniversary was a far cry from their turbulent courtship. The Rebins met in 1957 in a Russian class at the University of Saskatchewan. Science student Delva was studying the language to keep up with new developments in physics. Norm, who came from a Russian Doukhobor family and was already fluent in Russian, “wanted an easy credit,” says Delva. He tripped over her desk, and was instantly smitten. She thought he was “a pompous ass.”

But they were thrown together when both volunteered to decorate the arts and science parade float, and Delva decided Norm wasn’t so bad after all. Their whirlwind courtship was full of obstacles. Not only were their temperaments totally different Norm loved change and challenge, while Delva loved serenity and stability but neither family approved of the match. “You’re talking Russian royalty here,” says Norm, whose ancestors include Leo Tolstoy and a Russian prince. “I was supposed to marry a nice Doukhobor girl preferably from a family with the right financial and social background. “Delva’s father was the most possessive, single-minded father in the world with the physical size to back up his authority.

When I told him I wanted to marry his daughter, he said, ‘We’re going to walk out of here and I’m going to beat you to a pacifist Russian Doukhobor pulp.’ Since he weighed about 240 pounds, that was no idle threat. “And Delva’s mother used to lock herself in the bathroom every time I came to visit. She was convinced I was out to ravage her daughter.” So they decided to elope.

Norm won a scholarship to study international affairs in Stockholm, and moved there in the fall of 1959 to start his studies and arrange the marriage. Delva followed him a few weeks later, and they were married Nov. 9. Their witnesses included a pair of Norm’s classmates as well as the Canadian ambassador and his wife, and a Swedish count and countess. By the time the Rebins returned to Canada at the end of the school year, both sets of parents were reconciled to the match. In fact, Doukhobor spiritual leader John Verrigan eventually made Delva an honorary Doukhobor the first in Canada.

The Rebins live in a 35-room heritage house the fourth building they’ve restored where they run a consulting business called the Pinehurst Institute. They also teach communications and public speaking at several universities. Son Noral is a stockbroker, son Kal is an executive with Air Ontario and daughter Nicole is pursuing a master’s degree in psychology in New Zealand. “I’ve often been told by other Doukhobors that Delva and I started a wave of inter-faith marriages,” says Norm. “A lot of people have told us that we inspired them to take the plunge. We’ve certainly never regretted it.” 

December 1989- Barbara Crook

Did you hear the one about Norman?


Did you hear the one about Norman?

What would Leo Tolstoy have said about Norman Rebin, his second cousin twice removed? Never at a loss for words, the eminent Russian novelist would surely have uttered something—although in the case of cousin Norman it might have been difficult to get a word in edgewise.

The 41-year-old Canadian Doukhobor is more than just a good talker. He makes his living spouting off, and his verbal pyrotechnics were honored recently when he had the title Continuare Professus Articulatus Excellere bestowed upon him by the National Speakers Association of Phoenix, Arizona. The award—comparable to the Pulitzer Prize for writers—makes him the only Canadian on the association’s roster of 48, just two places down from Norman Vincent Peale. CLICK Here to read the rest

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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