Love in the days before Blue Rodeo
Jim Cuddy met his wife when they were in university
Hot off his latest album release,
Constellation, Jim Cuddy is on tour across Canada, and his wife is also hitting the stage. Rena Polley performs in the Chekhov Collective’s A Midsummer Night’s
Dream at the Citadel theatre in Cabbagetown from Feb. 21 to March 11. We chatted with the two stars in February as they celebrated 40 years together.
How they met
Rena: We met in our final year at Queen’s University. I knew who Jim was, but had never met him. My roommate kept trying to set me up with friends, and one day she invited me to her boyfriend’s place to watch him and Jim practice music. I sat there feeling out of place and awkward. Then I saw Jim about a week later on the track and said, “Hi” to him. Jim: I do remember Rena coming to the house where I was writing songs with a friend, but I wasn’t aware it was a setup. My memory is seeing Rena running on the Queen’s indoor track and being so smitten by her smile. I waited for her to come out of the change room afterwards, but I missed her. So I found out where she lived, called her and asked her to go to breakfast with me the next morning.
The first date
Rena: It was the first Saturday of reading week. We had breakfast at Morrison’s in Kingston. We were talking for so long I missed my train and had to catch the next one. We earnestly talked about everything including the existence of God. I think we both found it a bit exhausting. Even though it was fun, it wasn’t the most personal date. Jim: Then a few months later Rena asked me to her grad formal, and I showed up at her house in an oil-stained blue tux hoping to make her laugh, but she totally took it in stride. I changed into normal clothes, and we had a great evening.
Rena: We really were courting the following summer back in Toronto. Jim would always call me at the last minute to join him for a late dinner. I remember eating two dinners a night for most of the summer.
Rena: Jim and I had been together for about six years and were living in New York. I was studying acting, and he had a band. We knew our days in New York were coming to an end. Jim: We were walking down to our apartment in Little Italy in New York City together and talking about going back to Toronto. I think Rena said, “Maybe we should get married,” and I got down on my knee on the broken glass–strewn street and proposed. She said yes.
Rena: We were married in Toronto in 1984. We spent our wedding night at the Windsor Arms Hotel where we had to pay cash because we didn’t own a credit card. We had just moved back from New York the week before and were broke, so Greg [ Jim’s bandmate] offered us his parents’ cottage for three days. The day after we arrived the rest of the band joined us.
Rena: We have lived in Riverdale for over 30 years. When we first moved, I wept because I thought no one would cross the Danforth bridge to visit us.
Secret of success
Jim: We both have full creative lives, which we do our best to weave into our family life as seamlessly as possible. Rena has always been insistent on time together apart from family and work and that has been invaluable.
L–R: Rena Polley and Jim Cuddy were married in 1984 in Toronto