The fall of 1969 was a very exciting- not to say nerve-wracking- time for me: I was leaving home to live in residence at Trent University and most of my friends were staying in Ottawa and either going to Carleton University or the University of Ottawa and living at home, although some were working or going to other big universities. Trent was a new university, modelled on the Oxbridge system, with 4 colleges- 2 within the small city of Peterborough, and 2 on the campus several miles away, where the Library, lecture halls, science labs, and athletic buildings were built on both sides of the Otonabee River. (Rowing was a featured sport, in spite of the Canadian winter and the school calendar. Linda was not interested.) It had a smaller student population than the high school I had just left, and Catherine Parr Traill College was in town, a hybrid of original buildings with a long three-story addition containing 2 floors of single rooms for students, with a Porter’s Lodge with student mailboxes, offices, several apartments for professors, and a student lounge on the bottom floor. The dining hall was in a remodelled house opposite, and gowns were expected to be worn for formal dinner. (And classes. This lasted until the first snow.) Buses ran on a schedule and most classes- lectures, seminars, and tutorials- were held out at the main campus. My parents had insisted that we should both go away to university, and the previous spring I had gone with my father to Queen’s in Kingston, a large university where Cec had a meeting, and Peterborough to look at Trent, an undergraduate university, still growing- and we had decided on it. My Uncle Carman had assured me that I would enjoy university, but I was not that convinced. I am happy to report, however, that they were right. Within a week I had acquaintances, within a month I had close friends, I loved my courses, and was able to develop my own interests. As a contrast, I felt my friends who went to Carleton scuttled around in the tunnels among hordes of other students, attending large lectures in huge auditoriums, and greeting only the few people they knew (but hadn’t particular liked) from high school.
I know, I’m biased. And I was very fortunate. But this is about Cyn’s perspective.
49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.
I am ashamed to have been so long in writing but what with one thing AND another the time has been flying by. I am doubly ashamed as I must apologize for opening Patsy’s letter to you and also reading it! I have been getting air letters from Cec and when it arrived I just opened it without thinking and then when I looked inside and saw that it was for you and not me I wondered if she had got the exercise book we sent, so I read it to see! One good thing came of it as I see they are interested in Canadian Universities for Paul, and I have a book of Linda’s telling all about all the Universities in Ontario – their size, cost, courses etc. so I will send it to Patsy so she can get some idea of what it involves and if it would be what he wants.
Thank you so much for now 3 letters – the first one crossed with mine and the last one arrived today. By now you will have received the pictures I sent, so at least you knew that we were thinking of you. I might as well begin and answer all the questions in your last letter, as I was going to tell you all about Lindy and her College anyway. As you would gather from the note with the pictures Lindy went last Thursday and until Sunday only 1st Year Students were there with the Profs. etc. and they had Seminars and arranged their Courses and had things like picnics and dances and hootenanys to get to know each other. On Sunday the other students arrived and term actually began on Monday. Charlie and I drove her down – he has been back at school since 2nd Sept. but it is a long way to Peterborough (180 miles) and I didn’t fancy the long lonely drive back alone, so he skipped school for one day and came with us. Mme Gemuse was here that day, so we left her to clean the house and set out around 9 o’clock – Linda drove for the first part to take her mind off leaving Ottawa (!) and then we stopped for coffee and I drove the rest of the way. We arrived in Peterborough just before 1 o’clock and had lunch (Lindy wasn’t very hungry!) and then we drove to her College. They had it all very well arranged – a 2nd year student met her and took her to her room, and then took her over to the place to register and then showed her where to go to meet her tutor and arrange her courses. Then she popped back to us with a paper with about 6 or 8 places she had to go to do various things – each place she got the paper initialed. So I said we had better go and open her bank account first and she could get some money, which we did, as she had to buy a gown (16 dollars) and put a deposit on her room key (7 dollars). On the way back to her College she suddenly said, “Oh, the Health Service is on this Street” and this was one of the places on her paper, so we found it and she dashed in and in a little while came out with a shot in each arm! We then went and got her key and then she took us up to her room. The college is not one of the university buildings and is in the older part of Peterborough but Wallis Hall is a new part and Lindy has a lovely room to herself. It has a divan bed and built in wardrobe, chest of drawers, bookshelves and desk, in a pretty walnut. It has a wall to wall carpet and lights that go on as you open closet doors and her own telephone! We carried up all her bags – not too bad, her suitcase, a flight bag, two cardboard boxes with books and dishes etc. and two coats on hangers. She took A. Muriel’s little bookshelf with her and her favourite books to keep her company. She didn’t stay to unpack as she was worried about all the places she had to go to still, so 2 of these were out at the new campus on the river, so we decided that we would drive her out there, and Charlie and I would get a look at it and then we would leave her to get the university bus back as we wanted to leave around four. I’m glad we saw it as the new part is quite fantastic very elegant built along the river with crosswalks and a bridge over the river from one building to another – tell Monie it reminded us of Expo! We left Linda there, and I must say that I was very pleased with her. From the moment she actually arrived she seemed to get over her stage fright and was very capable and efficient – as Charlie and I sat and waited for her at the various places, there were hundreds of students, male and female milling around, of course, and all of the girls there were some who were pretty and slim and nicely dressed, and others who just didn’t have it! Fat or dowdy or plain or something, poor things, and Charlie and I agreed that Lindy was very much one of the first group! She didn’t seem a bit shy – all keyed up I expect – and talked to girls she met and seemed very self-possessed, so long may it continue. One thing that we all giggled about – Lindy took some things from home to decorate her room, all the gold and orange colours she has here, and what colour should her college room be but reds and purples!
Charlie and I set out and stopped once for a hamburger and a piece of pie on the way home. It poured with rain part of the way to Peterborough but cleared up at lunchtime and was lovely the rest of the day which was nice. We were very fortunate in our eating places too and had nice meals – even the little place that Charlie and I stopped at on the way home was run by a family and the lady cooked very good hamburgers and had made the delicious pie. We got home soon after 8 o’clock and I felt pretty tired as I always have to kind of stretch my neck to see when I’m driving and on a long trip it is wearisome, but it made all the difference having Charlie with me. He is going to go down to the Licensing Bureau on Friday and get his 120 day Learner’s License and then he will take the driving course at the high school this fall.
After we got home we had a cup of tea and toast and as we were both tired we went to bed at 10 o’clock! I don’t think we had been in bed so early for months! Then at 10:45 the phone rang and here was Lindy to see if we got home safely! One of the other girls had said she was phoning home after 10 (cheap rates) so Linda phoned too which was nice and she had got all her paper signed and taken it back to the Registrar who was amazed that she had got it done so soon, so she was very contented. She’d had dinner with some girls and met her neighbours and in her letter since, she says she has got to know nearly all the girls on her floor and that everyone is very kind and helpful. She says she is feeling more at home but is looking forward to classes beginning so that she knows what she is doing. Her address is: – Wallis Hall, Catherine Parr Traill College, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario. Isn’t that ‘Catherine Parr Traill’ a mouthful? [She was an early settler in the area (1830s) and an author and naturalist– one of Canada’s first women writers.] I have been writing just Traill College on the small envelopes as I noticed that some of the university letters abbreviated it.
It has been very strange with just Charlie and me at home, but we have both been so busy that we haven’t had time to mope. I have been teaching Nursery School every morning since 8th. (I got someone to take my place the Thurs. I was away) and of course Charlie has been at school. In the evenings he goes and coaches a football team of younger boys from 6:30 till 8:00 and on Sat. mornings. Last weekend I moved into the family room and Charlie began painting our bedroom, and got most of it finished but some of the woodwork is still to do so it is still in a mess. Little Mrs. Martin’s husband has at last got so helpless that he has been taken to the Civic Hospital, and she was telling me how long it took her to go there- 1 1/2-2 hrs each way- and back on the bus to see him, so I have been driving her 2 or 3 times a week. Sometimes I just go and pick her up and bring her home as she finds the buses going are more convenient and she doesn’t have to wait so long. She herself has to have an operation this fall, and she can’t turn him or lift him so it looks as if he will be in hospital for good now.
Before Linda went away we had a lot to do of course. As you can imagine she nearly drove me crazy as there was nothing organized about her and while I would want her to make lists of things to buy and clothes she needed and things to do and sort out her old clothes and tidy her drawers etc. she would be off visiting her friends or reading or something. Finally I realized that the more I fussed the less she did and the more agitated I became, so I just relaxed and decided if things didn’t get bought or done this was her lookout, and after that it was better. All the essentials got done – check up with Dr. Kastner (who said that she was as healthy as a pony!) – visit to the dentist – check with her Eye Dr etc. – haircut and so on. She only bought one new outfit – or at least I bought it for her – green slacks with a green and white tweed tunic to go over them, which could be worn alone as a jumper, and a white turtleneck sweater to go with it. She is the funniest girl – she spent all her money when she was away on books and presents for her friends, so she had very little dress allowance left, but she got her August money and sold some of her last year’s textbooks and so had $20 or so but instead of going out and buying a dress or a blouse she bought stamps and writing paper and all sorts of little odds and ends and the money just vanished! However she’s on her own now. She was highly delighted with the suede jacket we gave her for her birthday, so I was much relieved!
By the way, she was very pleased because when she looked in her mail slot in college here were 2 postcards from her Daddy waiting for her, so that was a nice surprise. I got a letter from Cec today after a long silence and he will be back on Monday we hope. He was writing from Japan and said what wonderful hosts his 2 Japanese friends were – wouldn’t let him pay for anything and went out of their way to show him everything and take him everywhere. He was on one of the southern islands – Fukuoka, and just leaving for Tokyo where his last meeting was. While he was there he was going with another NRC man who was to be in Japan with his wife, on an expedition up Mount Fuji, so I hope the weather was good and he enjoyed it. He was a bit disappointed with his holiday trip up to the Great Barrier Reef I think. The weather wasn’t all that good and the sea very rough, which he didn’t mind, but the water was too high to actually go on the reef, so they went in glass bottomed boats a bit. Also he got a throat infections and had quite a temp. one night so he probably was not feeling too well, but he went to a Dr. when he returned and says he is OK now. Saw the Egans in Sydney. I forgot to tell you when I was telling you about the week before Lindy went away but we did quite a bit of painting at the N.S. Marjorie and I and 2 others painted a lot of the furniture inside, and then Charlie and a friend put up a new fence around the playground and we painted some of the outdoor things. You remember Mr. Hutchinson was making us a big storage cupboard and slide – well he just finished it and Charlie went the next day to begin painting it and found some boys or someone had come and pulled the doors right off the hinges. Well, that was bad enough, but he fixed it again and began and undercoated the whole thing. The next afternoon Mr. Graham phoned to tell me that he’d just had a call that there was a fire at the Church, and it was the big old storage box with all the children’s toys set on fire and burned to the ground. I was so thankful it wasn’t Mr. Hutchinson’s new one but when we went down we found the smouldering remains of the old one – all the sleds toboggans, wagons, a little car, wheelbarrow and all sorts of smaller trucks and cars all gone. The new box had the doors pulled off again and they had thrown sand all over Charlie’s wet paint. It just made us sick to think of kids doing such malicious damage. Of course we had the police and we have let the insurance people know and given them a list of the toys we lost but so far we haven’t heard anything. This made quite a bit of extra work too, but we got it tidied up before the school opened and Charlie got one coat on the new slide anyway after he sanded it off.
I was delighted to hear of the parcel you were sending me – it sounds very nice and I am looking forward to having some new pretty mats and cloths for the table. I must see if I can get the table refinished and then they will look their best. I bought some new curtains at Shoppers City for our bedroom as the old ones had got wet and shrunk – the walls are a very pale blue, so the curtains are a sheer material and shades of pale blues and greens with a pale blue lining, and I think they are very pretty. I thought that in the small room light curtains might be better and make the room look bigger. Otherwise I haven’t made any purchases lately. I am so glad that you like Donna’s parents and how nice that you will meet her after all. It is lovely that Alan and she are getting home just when you are there and I hope you will all have a lovely time. I expect Margs is excited and I do hope that she and Bill are feeling better and that they will keep well now. We have been having some very hot miserable weather since we got back from our holidays but now it has become quite changeable – very cold one day, then rain and hot and now tonight it is to go down to 40. Poor Cec is going to have a FIT when he sees his garden! I began to weed it a few times, but in an hour I have just managed to clear about 1 square foot, so I haven’t got very far! You asked about how we fitted in Granny and Grandpa Costain’s house in Penticton – well, it has 2 bedrooms, and Grandpa had just finished a room in their basement, all panelled walls and tiled floor, which was ready for Cec and me. It was very comfortable and cool and Lindy had a bed in the spare room cum sewing room, and Charlie slept on a sofa bed in the living room, so we managed fine. I quite liked Carman and Leona’s house, but it is a bungalow and of course I like ours best! It is on a corner and has a very small garden – just as well as Carman hates gardening! I have been wearing the long-sleeved greyish dress quite a lot and have found it very useful. It is cosy without being too hot and a couple of days on holiday it was just what I needed.
I must stop now as I should write to Lindy tonight. Yesterday I went to the market and bought fruit and vegetables and last night I made peach chutney, then this afternoon I had a lady to tea who is taking over my job as Social Convener for the Scientists Wives, so I gave her all my notes on last year and told her what I could, so I haven’t written to her since the weekend and she begged for lots of letters to begin with anyway! Our love to Marga and Bill and Monie and Owen.
A purr from Saki and love from Charlie and
This letter was sent to New York, where Carol was visiting her nieces on Long Island. She sent Cyn a cutting from the church bulletin there, which featured a welcome to her:
‘BILL and MARGUERITE JAEGER spending their vacation in Maine. Welcome to MRS. CAROL EWING, the aunt of MONA B. and MARGUERITE J. She is on the Altar Guild of ST. GEORGE’S CATHEDRAL in Saint Vincent, a beautiful and tropical island in the West Indies, a strong hold of our Anglican faith. FATHER MARLIN will take the two Sunday services this week at the J.F.K. Airport Protestant Chapel at 12:15 and 4 pm.’
One thought on “September 17 1969”
Cyn’s and your commentary on first going to the University, moving, registering, and all the rest of it is exciting, and rouses a jumble of memories about my, the girls’, and Gwynnie’s parallel experiences. How lovely yours sounds, and how orderly!