Terry and Edna Robinson hold The Villager photo and story from when they opened the Russell House Pub, which they owned for 15 years. The pub is now closed and the building sold to an undisclosed buyer. Vetter photo
RUSSELL — The owners of the Russell House Pub, Terry and Edna Robinson, closed its doors on June 30, preparatory to emptying the building, which has been sold to an undisclosed buyer.
In an exclusive interview with The Villager, Terry and Edna sat down and discussed their decision. They had hoped to sell both the property and the business, but such specialized buyers are few and far between, and they were approaching retirement age. When they were approached to sell the building, which meant closing down the business, they agreed.
“We had some great times, met some great people, had some great functions,” said Edna. “But I’d like to find my house again. Time and energy that could have been spent on decorating my house has been spent here.”
The Robinsons have owned the Russell House Pub since 2002, and in 2004 they both left their Ottawa jobs, realizing that running the pub needed their undivided attention. Terry retired from Air Canada, and Edna left her job at the National Research Council. They moved to Russell with their two sons in 1990, after living in the Toronto area, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.
Another strong factor in their decision to sell was family. “Our grandbaby is four years old and I’ve only had one sleepover,” Edna said.
Terry wants to “retire properly” this time, putter in his garage, and bring out his old car, a 1962 Mercury Meteor. “I can go to bed earlier now, and get up earlier,” he said, referring to the late hours required in the pub.
They still live in Russell and plan to be active retirees in the community. “Maybe we can actually go to a RAPA play, after sponsoring them for all these years,” said Terry.
Edna agrees. “My Armoured Company of Knights, the only time I saw them was when they performed here. I’d like to go see a show.”
Some of their favourite functions in the pub were the Trivia Nights, fundraisers helmed by Connie Johnston. The pub hosted about 75 of them, helping raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for various local causes and residents in need of support, starting in 2006.
The Robinsons told their patrons the news on Fri., June 30, the evening of their final day open, then called key people who needed to know, including Johnston. They kept the sale under their hat until then, not wanting to explain to every person who walked into the pub what they were doing and why. They don’t know the new owner’s plans for the building, other than it won’t be a bar.
The bar fixtures have almost all been sold or donated to various organizations and individuals. A few items, such as the taps, are being kept by Terry and Edna.
“Running a pub was on our bucket list,” Edna said. “It was a way of life, now this is a new lifestyle change for us.”