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*Exclusive Online Premiere* | Meet Mabel Robinson, Nova Scotia’s 89-Year-Old Hairdressing Dynamo

*Exclusive Online Premiere* | Meet Mabel Robinson, Nova Scotia’s 89-Year-Old Hairdressing Dynamo

*Exclusive Online Premiere* | Meet Mabel Robinson, Nova Scotia’s 89-Year-Old Hairdressing Dynamo

“I just hate sitting around doing nothing,” says Mabel Robinson, the unstoppable hairdresser from Hubbards, Nova Scotia.

At 89 years old, and after 70 years in the business, Mabel has no plans of retiring anytime soon.

“My customers are all dying on me, but I’m still going strong,” she says with a laugh. Her oldest client, who’s been coming to see her for six decades, is 97.


Mabel is the star of a short NFB doc titled Mabel, which debuted recently at the Atlantic Film Festival, in Halifax. After a 30-second teaser clip of the film went viral (thank you, CBC Nova Scotia!), generating millions of views and hundreds of heartfelt comments, we released the film online free, for all to enjoy. Yay, Mabel!


Heartwarming and as sweet as bridge mix, the 20-minute film traces Mabel’s remarkable story. The daughter of a barber, Mabel started work at 7 years old, waiting tables. After graduating from a beauty school in Boston, she came back home to Nova Scotia and opened a shop right in her house.

At a time when most people’s dreams revolve around retiring as early as possible, Mabel tells a different story.

It shows how diligent work, however repetitive and humble, can be a path to meaningfulness, purpose and dignity in the golden years, especially if it springs, as in Mabel’s case, from one’s heart, and connects one to one’s community.


Watch Mabel below, and don’t hesitate to share her story with whoever might need to be inspired by her great attitude and determination.

Mabel, Teresa MacInnes, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Want more? Check out our Spirited Seniors playlist on Youtube

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  1. I started oing hair in 1950 .. same thing .. had a shop in my home loved the work and the people i met ,, still doing a little in my home after 67 years ..

    — Jackie Wiliams,
  2. What a wonderful film! I have been doing Hairdresser with my Wife for 32 years, and I hope to be just like Mabel, What a inspiration!!!!

  3. We could write a book couldn’t we Mabel ??

    — Cheryl,
  4. Traditional curling methods can still be at par with today’s technology. Your passion in hairdressing is just so inspiring. May you continue to be an inspiration to people in this industry.

  5. I truly enjoyed this video! I would absolutely love to meet Mrs Mabel in person! I, too, am a hairdresser! I’ve taken over my mothers beauty parlor of 49 years and still doing her clients as well as my own! The many screen plays I could write, OH MY!!!! We laugh , we cry, we pray! Is Mrs Mabel still alive? God bless her!!! I would really like to watch more of her … is that possible?
    I have fallen in love with this beautiful soul!❤

    — Robin Martin Smith,
  6. I have fell in Love with Mabel! I hope I have her attitude and spun as I get older!

    — Amy Coffey,
  7. I’ve watched it three times now. A smile on my face the whole time.

    Now making my way through the other films about older women, especially, but just older people generally.

    Thank you. More please.

    P.S. Have you all seen My 90 yr old Roommate on CBC?

    — rose,
  8. Mabel is an inspiration. I am so happy her spirit and determination was captured in this lovely documentary.

    — Stephanie MacLeod,
  9. Beautiful, thanks NFB and specially Carolyne for letting the public see and experience the incredible story of that active, loving and incredible senior, and all of what she has accomplish in her life and continue to do so.

  10. Wonderful made me miss my mom and her buddies from years ago in Winnipeg – thank you

    Kerol Rose

    — Kerol rose,
  11. Thank you to Teresa and her team – what a lovely story! Made my day. Blessings to Mabel, her friends and NFB.

    — Ruth Begley,
  12. Thank you to Teresa and her team – what a lovely story! Made my day.

    — Ruth Begley,
  13. Wonderful film! Really captured the Maritime culture as well as the spirit of Mabel.

    — Susan April,

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