June 13 1966- Part 2

Seated in front: Leslie and David Costain; in chairs L-R, Patty Lu Atchison holding Phillip Costain & Barbara Costain with cousin Robin Costain; in a clump standing L, Terry, Brian, Brent and Bobby Costain, then Leona Costain, Lea Atchison, Merle Moor, Cyn Costain, Linda and Charlie Costain; back row, cut off, Daryl Atchison, Russell Costain, Carman Costain, Errol Costain, Wendell Atchison, Cec Costain, Bruce Moor, Dixon Moor.

Just a note of review of the Costain Family: Mom and Dad Costain had 5 children: Merle, Lea, Cec, Russell and Carman, all married, with a total of 16 grandchildren. Merle, Lea, and Cec live in Ontario- Lea and Cec in Ottawa, and this is where the family plan to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their parents’ marriage. Mom and Dad, and Carman’s family live in British Columbia so have the farthest to travel, Russell and family live in Saskatchewan (although Cyn says Alberta, which surprised me) and in the end all (except the 2 oldest grandchildren, Merle’s sons John and Lorne and their very young families) managed to make it to Ottawa in July to celebrate.

[Continued from Monday’s letter…]

Tuesday.
Linda and Charlie are off to school for their exams and Cec is away to work, so here I am to finish my letter. I am meeting the children at 12:15 and we are going downtown to get Daddy’s birthday present and Father’s Day present! This year the Columbus Meeting isn’t until Sept. so for once Cec has his birthday at home – we are going to celebrate by having Mr. Graham and the Grahams over for bridge. We thought that we would get him a new card table for Father’s Day as the old one is not very presentable now, but as F’s Day isn’t until Sunday he won’t have it for this occasion.
Saki is rushing madly around at the moment trying to run off some of her high spirits! She just loves going outside now and climbs all the trees and the other day we couldn’t find her anywhere and then looking up the old apple tree we saw her fast asleep up in the branches. She still uses her sandbox inside, and doesn’t seem to think the garden soil is the same thing at all. While Cec was away last week we took her down to the Vet. Dr. Cherry for her distemper shot, and poor little thing she had a horrid time. She was just terrified and gave a great squall when he gave her the injection and then bit the assistant who was holding her and rushed off. Her ears have always been very dirty inside and I had cleaned them a bit with the cotton covered sticks and warm water, but I told the vet and he gave them a great cleaning with cotton wool and got out gobs of black stuff and of course she hated this. He then looked at some of this stuff under his microscope and found she had ear mites and showed me the little things wiggling (Charlie wouldn’t look – Lindy wouldn’t even come into the Vets.) and so he put some stuff in her ears and frightened her some more – so much so, poor little thing that as she was climbing up Charlie and me she had a B.M. and didn’t do our coats any good! However, she soon recovered when we got her back in the car – which she quite likes, and I have been putting in the ear stuff and she doesn’t mind me doing it. She also has some vitamin drops and she loves them and licks them off the dropper with great gusto! Noli is doing fine and is just as fat and gentle as ever. Saki loves to watch him in his cage and if we go out quite often will go and sit up beside the cage for company. Of course if Noli is out on the floor Saki thinks he is a plaything, particularly if he runs, so we keep them apart!
Our plans for the summer are slightly more organized – Mom and Dad are arriving on the 27th of this month, in 2 weeks time. We have got a beautiful new sofa bed for the family room, as we felt they had slept on that old one for so many visits that they deserved a new one for their Golden Wedding! It is a brown sofa when closed, about the same length as the old one, but it opens out so that the head of the bed is the back of the sofa, and so makes a big Queen-size bed. It has a foam mattress and is very comfortable – the children keep begging to open it out so they can lie in luxury and watch television! Just after we had ordered this what should happen but the washing machine should break down! Of course when it broke down last time over 2 years ago the man told us this was giving out and that was breaking down etc. and it had been leaking, so it was expected but of course it would happen just then. Cec said it wasn’t even worth getting a repair man out to look at it and that we should look at new ones, so 2 weeks ago we went out to Simpson-Sears and got a beautiful new one. It is pretty much like the old one but just a few more adjustments – in the old one I could either have the machine full of water or if I wanted a smaller wash I had to stay there and push the button when it was full enough, and then come back and do the same thing for the rinse, but this one has three amounts of water and I can set at any one and it does either a small, medium or large wash. While we were waiting to get it I went back to my old friend the Coinwash, and of course got all behind and in my washing and ironing and seemed to spend all last week catching up. I was in the middle of washing all the curtains etc. too and had got Lindy’s curtains and bedspreads done but now will have to attack the rest. We have got the Indian rug in the family room and it looks very nice and fits the colour scheme beautifully and makes it much cosier I think.
To go back to our visitors this summer – Merle phoned up when Cec was away, and apparently she had got fed up with waiting to hear what Russell and his family were going to do this summer and had phoned them. You know the rumour has been going around that they would come and visit us for Mom and Dad’s Golden Wedding celebration, so at Christmas I wrote and said how pleased we would be to see them etc. – not a word. So we asked Mom when we wrote if she had heard if they were coming, and she had heard they might, and so it went on, and the same with a brother of Dad’s called Uncle Harry, and it was so annoying because none of us here knew what was happening. Well, finally poor Merle couldn’t stand it and phoned them (Russell is with Bell Telephone and we think can probably phone free) and after talking they said yes that they would come leaving Alberta around the 8 or 9 July and camping on the way – they have 4 boys and 1 girl. Then Merle said would they write and let us know but they said they didn’t know where our address was would Merle let us know, so poor Merle had to make another long distance call to us! If I were her I would have been mad! As it is I don’t much appreciate being a hotel where reservations needn’t be made! Merle and Dix and Bruce will arrive on 15 July and the celebration will be on 16th – Uncle Harry isn’t coming we just heard from Mom on Sat. so at last we are beginning to know what is happening! I called Lea to tell her the developments, but she’s is still in as bad a way as ever with her back and expects she will have to have it operated on – she doesn’t know when – so she is out of it as far as any entertaining goes. However she does have plenty of room so I think that Russell and his family can stay with us for a few days and then when Merle etc. come they can go over to stay at Lea’s and come to us to eat – as far as I can see this makes it 14 for meals and nine to stay part of the time and 11 the rest of the time! Linda thinks it would be lovely if all 14 were here and we could put them all up except as far as I can see the sitting room sofa would be the only place for her! I feel with this crowd I just can’t do much preparing – I’ll just have to wait and cope when it comes – I just hope it isn’t one of those Ottawa heat waves! Merle and Dix are taking Mom and Dad a trip to Prince Edward Island so will be only here a weekend I think, and I don’t suppose that Russell and Errol will be here very long as driving to and fro will take 4 days or so each way, so it will be a wild few days! I plan to do one thing beforehand and that is make a 3 tier wedding cake for Mom and Dad. I won’t make a fruit cake, just a white one, but I will make it in 3 square tins and ice it in gold and decorate it and I think it will look nice and be fun. I will freeze the cakes iced, I think and then just decorate it at the end, so it won’t take too long.
Lindy and Charlie think they are having a very Organized summer – at the end of this month they are having tennis lessons for 10 days down at the tennis courts on the Lower Level of Rothwell Heights, then in July they are going for typing lessons at one of the High Schools in town, and Charlie now has a Paper Route – it is not really a route as it is the one he used to help Johnny Lockwood with at the NRC buildings on Montreal Rd. and all he hast to do is go and sit beside a pile of papers in the beautiful new air-conditioned hall! Johnny used to do 2 buildings but found his money was disappearing from the building where he just left the papers alone, so Charlie now does this one and he’s very proud of himself as he makes about 2 dollars a week. Lindy is panting for some babysitting jobs so that she can make money too, but so far she hasn’t done too well. In August we are going down to Brantford and Stratford for a week. We have booked a room in Stratford and will see Twelfth Night, Henry 5, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Lindy and Charlie are going to a matinee of an opera Don Giovanni while Cec and I go to London to see Pete and Lu. Charlie was most distressed at not seeing the opera which he said he wanted to see more than anything, so this was the solution, as really the children don’t have much in common with Pete and Lu’s 2 now, and hardly know them. We will then go to Brantford for a few days, and John and Sharon will be there and their baby christened. Lorne and Liz are expecting another baby this week – Debbie will be 2 1/2 now I think, and poor Liz had taken 2 night classes all winter and was sitting the exams last week!
Now at last having caught up on all my news I will try and answer your letters. I got one last night – thank you so much for it – written on 6th. I am glad that you got my letter with the recipes, I don’t know if they will be much use to you, but I know you and Auntie Moo like to see them anyway. If you can get the chocolate chips I think you would like the Pot au Creme dessert of mine – it is very rich and creamy tasting and very nice for a party – if you put it in small dishes you don’t need much in each one as it is so rich. I hope that you enjoyed the Queen’s Birthday Parade – it is nice that the Admin and his wife have been inviting you to some of the things as I know how much you enjoy them. Lindy was quite disappointed this year as I didn’t bother to sign the book to go to the Governor General’s Garden Party and she had made up her mind that she was old enough to go this year! But I think it is fun once in a while, but not every year. I am glad that you enjoyed the visit of the nice blind men and had a drive out to see Lily Purnett with one of them. I was amused about Mrs. Manton and her son who is going to McGill. As you know the distance between Montreal and Ottawa is counted as nothing here, but I am quite sure that when he is in Montreal at University he will have no desire to come visiting some unknown family in Ottawa. He will have all his own friends and activities and would think it an awful bore.
I am so sorry that I forgot all about the cheque book. I will get one this afternoon and send it to you. I also have a box (small!) all ready to send with the stockings for Auntie Moo and I must get it wrapped and mailed. Your Bank Account number is 8900 I think but I will check and let you know for sure when I send the cheque book. The children say thank you for the letters – perhaps when they are taking their typing lessons you will get some epistles from them. I am so glad that you met Mrs. Bedell – I haven’t heard anymore on the radio lately as I just have it on you know and it depends what I am doing as to whether I hear the talking bits or not, and in the summer I am out and about more. You mentioned in one of your letters having heard from Brenda and I have often wondered what happened about the scare that Arthur might have a spot which was cancerous. I imagine that they found it was all right or you would have said, but I hope everything is OK. I am sorry for them – they seem to have had a pretty hard time, travelling around and never settling for too long in one place, and some of the places pretty dreadful climates too. I am sure she must be longing to get back to England and have a proper home, but of course they must go where Arthur has a job. How is Richard doing in Australia? What part of Australia is Hazell Ann living in, and is Richard anywhere near? I am glad she is going to have a baby and I hope all goes well. I am glad that Jane and Bill are having a nice leave, but sorry that they didn’t come via Canada this time – next time, I hope. It was a big disappointment for John and a blow for all of them after all his hard work. What do they think he will go in for now? You ask about Charlie and his music lessons – well Ken and Dot only came back from Florida last month and are going away at the end of this one so poor Charlie doesn’t get much encouragement! I think I may have told you that the Scotts bought a small house trailer down in Florida and so when they go back in the Fall will have it to live in. It is in a trailer-park and they pay $25 a month and the park people look after it and the garden and keep it all in good shape whether they are there or not. Ken got it for 500 dollars from a man whose wife had left him and was on a drinking binge – trust Ken to get a good bargain! All the others were well over 1000 dollars. Dot is having a little music recital out at Cumberland next week, so Charlie is having to practice and refurbish some of his pieces, but anyway as long as he keeps it up a bit I don’t mind. The clarinet playing at school fell through – it was in the lunchtime you know, and someone didn’t come and then came back and they never seem to get any further than the ones who went regularly got very bored. By the way, you also ask about Lindy in one of your letters, and you will be interested to know that she is now a young woman! No trouble, but it seems very odd to me to have to remember such things at the supermarket again! She still complains over her small bosom but she actually has a little bit of a figure now.
I am horror-stricken – I found an Airmail letter amongst yours, and thought oh, an old one from Jean, and ripped it in two, and then suddenly realized it is from Peter and that you had said something about wanting to keep it, so I will have to return it to you in 2 parts! I think you will still be able to decipher the name of your shares. You really shouldn’t send me letters you want to keep, you know.
Well, it is 10:30 and not a dish washed, as Dottie used to say! I must stop and get something done and I think that I have really caught up with all the news.
Our love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Peggy and her family when you see them. Hello to Doris and to Luenda and Mr. Cox!
Much love from us all – so glad that your blood is behaving itself,

Cyn.

May 23 1966

The letters resume! They sound exactly the same: thank you for your latest; sorry for not writing sooner; hope your health is good; and include details of garden, house, cooking, school, church, work, and friends. But the three years have made a difference. The Costains have settled into their home, a bigger house on an acre of land, with a vegetable garden and lower lawn, (sometimes used for badminton), a front lawn with flower beds beside a driveway leading to a garage and, in spring and summer, dive-bombing swallows indignant at the paperboy and various guests approaching the front door and disturbing their nesting on the columns holding the roof up. The covered porch leading to the back door also opens to the back yard with a patio (work in progress) around a big shade tree, and an old, climbable apple tree shading the path to the vegetable garden. The back rises to a wild strip covered with long grass and a few bushes, which makes the area private and great for summer parties.
Both children are in high school: it is the era of the swinging sixties, with the British influence strong on popular culture: the Beatles, Twiggy, Carnaby Street, and issues like boys’ long hair and girls’ mini-skirts arising. Cec continues to welcome new Fellows to the Lab, travel to conferences, and tend his garden, Cyn works at church activities, sews and organizes the entertaining, and there are new pets- Nicki died, and now there is a new white kitten named Saki, and a hamster called Noli who lives in a cage but comes out when the children insist.
May 1966 was a busy time, with planning for the summer and the next year already in hand. Reminders of names: Dot and Ken Scott were first of all the landlords of the Montreal Road house, then friends- Dot taught the children piano, and then they sold the Costains their present house, which had been built by Dot’s father, Mr. Watt, and built themselves a new house a bit further east. The Rector, Mr. Graham, had had health problems I think, and was taking care. Neighbours and church friends in the area came to dinner with older friends from the Costains’ early days in Ottawa, Margie and Cy, and Jim and Lee. And finally, Jeanie Graham was the daughter of Marjorie and Dick Graham, and Sue Tomlinson the younger sister of Linda’s friend Joanne, both 10 or 11, and of the right size for Linda’s out-grown clothes.

Box 330, R.R.1
Ottawa, Ont.

23rd May.

Dearest Mummy,
I am really way behind in writing to you this time! As usual, I have ALL SORTS of excuses which I will now tell you about! First of all though, thank you so much for your letter of 8th of May– at least that was when you began it – I don’t have the postmark on the envelope because Ken came in one day and saw your letter lying on the counter and admired the stamps so much that I gave them to him for a friend of his. He and Dot are back from Florida again and have bought themselves one of those ‘permanent’ trailers in a Trailer Park down there, so next winter they will go down for 6 months and have their trailer all ready waiting for them. Dot is giving Charlie his music lessons again, but I can’t say that he is practising much. Can you believe it, the children finish school at the end of next week? At least after that there are exams and it depends on whether they are recommended by their teachers as to whether they will have to sit the exams or not. Linda just sat one last year, so I don’t suppose that they will have to sit many, and then the whole glorious summer is before them!

Reports and promotion letters- we passed the exams!

Well, the main reason that I didn’t get a letter written to you earlier was that we had our Maytime Fete on 14th and so I was very busy with my last minute projects. I never manage to get things done beforehand. I routed out things for the White Elephant stall, made fudge and coconut ice for the Candy stall, made two little dresses with little headscarfs to match for the handicraft store – they were adorable – one size 3 in white with a pink stripe, and one size 4 pink with a little dot on it. When I went into my Sunday School the next day here were 2 of my little girls all dressed up in them – their mothers had bought them at the Bazaar! I also made 12 triangles for teenagers – you know those headscarfs the girls are all wearing, and I found them marvellous for using up all my odd bits of material, and they were all sold. I had a kind of Specialty Food Stall up in the Balcony and did short demonstrations every hour, and for that I made meringues, petit fours, 4 strawberry pies with whipped cream, 2 strawberry meringue cakes, 2 chocolate cakes and 3 white layer cakes. I decorated them there in the demonstrations and sold them and various jams and jellies etc. as well. The Bazaar did very well on the whole, as we cleared 450 dollars which is more than we had made the last time or two, and it wasn’t such a wild rush as [when] we had it from 11 o’clock till 4 and served both lunches and teas.
After that on the Sat. of course I lay back and did nothing all day Sunday, after we’d been to Church. On the Mon. however, Cec had a meeting of men in connection with the Physics Education in the High Schools, and Linda and Charlie made themselves scarce as both their science teachers were there! I made little pizzas and Swiss Apple Pie for them, and then I had the WA here the next night and make Strawberry Mousse for them with their coffee. Then on Friday, I had a Buffet Supper for 12, counting Cec and me. I found that with not doing any entertaining at the beginning of the year when we were waiting for our carpet, we were way behind, so I am having another big supper this week and maybe an outdoor party for the Lab. in June, and then we will have done our duty! Last week we had a couple, Bernice and Ken Leigh–Smith he is a Navy friend of Cec’s who has recently come to live in Ottawa, and Marjorie and Dick Graham, Margie and Cy (only he was sick and couldn’t come) Jim and Lee and a young couple from the Lab who were up at the cottage last year you may remember, Chris and Fokker Kreuzberg. We had Shrimp Baguettes and Ham Rolls with our drinks, then I had a cold decorated Salmon Mayonnaise, Chicken Breasts Gourmet, Rice with peas and pimento, sliced cucumbers in sour cream, a jellied Sunshine Salad and hot French bread, and then a Chocolate Soufflé and a Savarin au Rhum for dessert. It all went very nicely, despite the fact that it was a pouring wet night and the birds had built a nest in the fan from the kitchen so the whole house smelt of garlic!
This was our long weekend holiday, Queen Victoria’s birthday, and after the coldest wettest most miserable weather for weeks, it was simply gorgeous with temps. up to 80 and everything bursting wildly into bud. Cec was gardening of course, and got his vegetable seeds in and we had our first asparagus from the garden. The children had a good time too and had the hammock out and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Yesterday afternoon Cec took some asparagus over to Mr. Graham, and said that if he found his garden noisy to come over and sit on our porch, so he did, and we gave him orange juice (not many calories ) and he lay back and seemed to enjoy it. He was going to his sister’s for dinner, so left about 4:30 and then after we had dinner we waited till it was dark and had our fireworks. Ours were a very modest assortment as Cec said that he thought L and C were too old for fireworks now, but I didn’t, anyway we would miss them! Of course, Dr. Legault [the dentist across the road] had a tremendous display with every sort of large expensive firework going, and they went on for hours, so we had them and the Dupuy’s [next door] displays to watch as well as ours!
The youngest members of our family are doing nicely – Saki is still as sweet and loving as ever, and she is now enjoying going out in the garden – for long enough it was so cold that we didn’t take her out. She is so funny – like Nicki she likes to go out with the children, and if she gets left in the house she cries. It isn’t a miaow yet, it is a little squeaky cry, very pathetic, and Cec says when we all set off for church she begins to cry until he calls her and then she tears over to him when he calls her and purrs and licks him because she is so pleased she isn’t left alone. Noli is getting big and fat and Linda took him to Sunday School last Sunday to show him to her children, and incidentally to mine too. I must say that he is very patient and puts up with Linda shoving him in her blouse and down her bed etc. and very rarely nips her – once in a while he will make a little pool on her, much to her annoyance! I don’t know what you made you think that we bought our kitten – the Ad. in the paper we answered said “Free kittens to good homes” and although I offered the lady with the 17 cats some money for Saki she wouldn’t take it. She is just a plain ordinary white kitty, I don’t know what kind.
I must stop now as I have cut out a dress for Linda and feel that I must get it made quickly or school will be over and she will be wearing nothing but shorts and jeans all summer. It is a pretty pale blue linen type material, and I have got her a yellow print which she is going to make into a shift for herself. As usual, hardly anything which she had last year will go near her – in fact I don’t think that any of her dresses fit her – we had a great time passing them on to Sue Tomlinson and Jeannie Graham, but fortunately she didn’t have very many! I have bought her one grey and white striped cotton and she has a couple of summer skirts and blouses and that is it. Charlie too couldn’t wear any of his last year shorts etc. so he has been outfitted too – even I have been buying some clothes although I haven’t grown out of mine, but my excuse is that I am getting them all ready for our trip to England next year! I have bought a reversible raincoat and a nice crease resistant summer dress in shades of blue. Cec laughs at my logic that I am saving money by getting the clothes now!
I was out planting marigolds this morning as the forecast was for showers later today, although it is 80 and very hot. The leaves have come out in a rush, but the apple blossom isn’t out yet. I have been snuffling with hay fever all weekend, and have had to resort to my pills so daren’t sit down anywhere for long or I fall asleep! It is not bad when I take them so I hope that the worst is over.
Much love from us all, and love to Auntie Muriel and hello to Doris and Luenda.
Take care of yourself, lots of love,
Cyn.

January to May 1966

The winter continued with family, work, school, and church activities in Ottawa. After their confirmations, the children took different roles at church. Cyn taught the youngest Sunday School class, 3 and 4 year-olds, and Linda took the next class up. The rector was now the Reverend Llewellyn Graham, a widower with a scholarly attitude, a love of England where he had studied, and a wicked sense of humour when among friends. The whole family enjoyed his visits and Charlie became an altar boy and helped during services.

In February, there was excitement in St. Vincent when the Queen and Prince Philip visited. Cec travelled too, to a conference in Texas. From Saskatchewan came the news from John and Sharon of the latest arrival to the family- Steven Moor- who was the first boy of the next generation, and everyone was sorry they lived so far away and couldn’t show off their baby. From B.C. there was a photo of Carman and Leona’s family, David, Robin, Philip, and Leslie. The Costain grandparents (who lived in Penticton near the Carmans) were coming to Ontario in the summer to visit and celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, and we all hoped to meet the cousins if the western families came too.

Around Easter, Cec went to a meeting in Washington, staying with a scientist friend. Because the friend’s young brother had a part in the play, Cec saw Gielgud’s newest production Ivanov on its pre-Broadway tour when he went with them to see it, and actually met John Gielgud and Vivian Leigh backstage after the performance. Cyn pasted the Playbill into the scrapbook with the young man’s name highlighted: Miller Lide. Later, her mother would write about Gielgud and Leigh holidaying on Young’s Island in St. Vincent after the Broadway run had finished.


April was Cyn’s birthday, celebrated with a card from one of her New York cousins down visiting her mother in the West Indies, and, as the summer approached, it was the season for weddings. The scrapbook celebrates three: children of old friends of Cyn’s in England, and invitations from the young men in the Lab- Klaus Huber and Phil Bunker.
And at the end of May, the letters resume, and although not regularly preserved by Carol in St. Vincent, there are enough to give a more intimate look at the mid 60s, for which I am very grateful! The antics of the Golden Wedding that summer deserve a blow-by-blow description…

September to December 1965

When school started in September, Linda and Charlie were once more on the same schedule, both catching the bus for high school. Charlie had an additional bit of pressure from his piano lessons, because he was planning on sitting a Royal Conservatory of Music exam in the winter.

At the N.R.C. Cec was happy to welcome the Dr. and Mrs. Morino from Japan who had both come to spend a year in the Lab. They were very kind to the children and shared aspects of their culture with us. Cyn kept the charming ‘Thank You’ notes they sent after social events, and pasted the kanji that I assume were their names into the scrapbook.
Dear Dr. & Mrs. Costain,
Just a short note to thank you for giving us such a nice party. Everything about it was wonderful.
Sincerely, Yonezo & Yoshi.

Still with me, even with arthritic fingers!

Linda had an Origami book with papers included but had not been able to figure out the tenth piece, the iconic Japanese crane. I remember sitting on a lab stool being coached by Mrs Morino- “now the outside becomes the inside”- as she showed me finally how to achieve the 3D effect that had eluded me. It remained with me, as I whiled away the tedium of Grade 13 Biology 4 years later by folding cranes and penguins and stars under the lab bench.

Also of note to the N.R.C. was when Dr. Steacie, the President of the N.R.C. from 1952 until his death in 1962 who had introduced the Postdoctorate Fellowship program, was honoured by Carleton University that fall when their new Chemistry building was named after him. The Herzbergs and N.R.C. staff were happy with this recognition.

The entries for ‘Presents Sent’ and ‘Received’ and ‘Cards Sent’ for 1965 in Cyn’s ancient Agenda Book are the last lists. The records of Christmas from 1932 to 1965 filled a years’ worth of pages, and the actual 1965 gifts give a picture of the time- Cec got a Harry Belafonte record and fondue forks from the family, Cyn a projector for those slides, and both children got English Annuals from their Grannie this time- which they enjoyed, but now are very much of that time- not PC at all, in fact, offensive in many ways. Linda got more books, of course, including the next hardback in the Little House series she was collecting, and Charlie a Gloucester High School sweater. And with the Christmas cards received, the Costains got the usual adorable photos of their friends’ growing families.


The Moors- now with both older cousins married, reduced to Auntie Merle, Uncle Dix, and Bruce- came up from Brantford for the occasion, and probably Lorne, Liz, and Debbie were also in Ottawa, staying with Liz’s family in Rockcliffe. John and Sharon out west had another reason for staying at home besides Christmas being a clergyman’s busy season- they were expecting their first child in February.
There was a lot of planning going on for 1966 that Christmas- the summer would bring celebrations for Granny and Grandpa Costain’s Golden Wedding Anniversary, and the whole family would try to get all four generations together in Ottawa!

January to August 1965

A note about the new high school. I went into Grade 9 at Gloucester High School, along with students from the entire township, some living as far as 40 miles from the school. Some came from the French village of Orleans, other from farm communities with one-room schools, and they had a long commute on school buses. It was quite a culture shock even for us living locally- the high school had a cafeteria where one could buy lunch, an auditorium with a stage, and a library. There were 5 grades in High School, 9 to 13, and 5 different programs offered- 2 year Hairdressing for girls, and Auto Mechanics for boys, with a certificate after completing Grade 10; 4 year Business and Commerce for girls and Technology for boys, with Junior Matriculation and Graduation after Grade 12; and an Academic stream that continued into Grade 13 for those aiming for university with Senior Matriculation at graduation. There was a Francophone stream for the French-speaking students, and French or Français classes for the academic students, depending on their mother tongue. There were 10 Grade 9 classes when I began, so over 200 students in that grade alone, and the school grew every year I was there- a second floor added on above the original level; a new wing with more technical and shop classes; a tower with pie-shaped classrooms replaced the teacher’s parking lot; and after 5 years, a community swimming pool being built beside the school, so gym classes could take advantage of the facility. Meanwhile, the developments around the school continue to expand. In Grade 9, cows in the field separating the school from the new highway used to come and look in the windows. In subsequent years, there were townhouses, apartment buildings, and new roads covering the fields beside the school and between the Montreal Road that we had lived on and the Queensway a mile south. The village of Orleans was growing, new developments went up in the fields beside the Ottawa river, and were spreading to join up. It was the baby boom generation being educated and 10 years later, in my student teaching year and times of unemployment that followed in my 20s, I had 3 more English-speaking high schools to choose from in the area, with French high schools operating separately. Ottawa had grown.

The scrapbook page for 1965 shows invitations and Valentines, showing that the adult Costains were involved with friends both local and abroad. The computer card is an invitation from Cec’s new Post-Doctorate Fellow, Harry Kroto, and his wife Margaret. They were a marvellous young couple from England, interesting, enthusiastic and full of fun. I remember one party with people from Cec’s Lab. where Harry and Margaret played a magic game with their audience, using a blindfold and the poker from the fireplace as props. The blindfolded one of the pair knelt on the hearthrug, and was able to identify which person the other was pointing at- I presume by verbal cues- and the children thought they were the coolest couple ever.
Harry was always quite clear about his interest in the visual arts, and how he was torn between science and art as a career. The Krotos were in Canada in 1967 which was the Centennial Year, and visited Expo 67, with the geodesic dome as the USA Pavilion. His later work on Carbon 60, buckminsterfullerene, was linked to this, as he explains:

Cec did not live to see Harry get the the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 but he was sure it would happen when he heard about Harry’s work with buckyballs. When Harry learned Cec was ill in 1991, he sent him a book- A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. MacKay, into which he had inserted a quotation from his time at the N.R.C. : Cec Costain- “If it doesn’t work, just kick it here.” to HWK in 1965 when the power supply did not work.
On the cover page he wrote, ‘To Cec and Cin, Two of our very best friends with love Harry and Margaret. Thanks for engineering my move to microwave spectroscopy- By far the nicest group of scientists due in no small measure to you and E.B.W. The quote on page 62 is one of my favourites. P.S. The rotational spectrum of C60 is too weak even for Jim W. to detect.’ The admiration and affection were mutual.
Other friendships are illustrated on this page- the third Sutherland daughter, Mary’s, wedding invitation, and a cryptic thank you card from a visiting Australian, Frank (Mercer?) whom they hadn’t seen since their Cambridge days.
The year continued with family birthdays, Spring Break and Easter, with school and work, but the big excitement of the spring was Carol visiting from the West Indies.

She was there for all the activities in June, the summer, and on into the fall- her usual long stay, having not seen the Costains since 1960, she would have needed to adjust to the changes in the children!
Charlie’s Graduation from Grade 8 was the final event of June, but there were other activities first. Grannie would have been very happy to be there for Charlie’s Confirmation in early June at church, and her best hat would have come out for the Governor General’s Garden Party.

Cec’s birthday and Father’s Day were celebrated, they enjoyed snaps from the Costains out west, and the whole family was pleased by the new porch at the back of the house- the open deck from the garage to the back door was now screened in with comfy chairs and tables, nice for eating in during the hot summer days when the mosquitos were bad under the trees!

The annual photo of the Lab on the steps of the N.R.C. shows Dr. Herzberg and Alec Douglas centre front, greying, Cec smiling in the second row end right, and Harry Kroto third row far left also with a big grin.

As the school year ended, the children wrote their exams- an intimidating exercise in high school for Linda, with the gym lined with rows of desks, fluorescent lights buzzing, invigilators prowling around, and hundreds of students writing earnestly in the hushed atmosphere. Both got their reports and were promoted, but Charlie’s graduation was a special ceremony because he not only got his diploma and the Citizenship Award, he also was the Valedictorian, speaking on behalf of all his fellow graduates.


After that, the family once more rented a cottage for three weeks in July at Lake Bernard.

There were beds, but not enough bedrooms, so the children slept on the open, but sheltered, porch. The renting family had asked the Costains to look after the raccoons, and Linda and Charlie found that this meant a whiskered face and a very hand-like paw, peering at them in bed.

The kits were adorable, and the children fed the family who went down to the lake to wash their spoils, which was a relief to all concerned- both animals and humans just as happy to keep a certain distance from each other.

In August, Cec went on a trip to Denmark and stayed with their friend Chris Müeller. Linda turned 13, finally a teenager, and she and Charlie got ready for high school- Linda assuring him it would be much better than elementary!

September to December 1964

The fall of 1964 was fun for Linda- she enjoyed high school: the increased independence, the variety of interesting classes and teachers, the library and cafeteria, and new friends- although the number of students took a while to get used to. Her marks remained good although she attempted without much success to follow her mother’s profession by taking Home Economics as an elective- making a blue flannel shift to wear in Sewing, and producing a sad liquid soup that should have been a chocolate pudding in Foods, which seemed to be more about the costing of the dishes than actually making them. She found learning Latin was more interesting.

In Grade 8, Charlie was once more in the Speech Contest, with his account of the eclipse that the family had witnessed the year before, and this time he was runner-up to the winner.
The Eclipse
Charles Costain
In ancient times, people were terrified when the sun was gradually blotted out and day turned into night. We know now that it is just an eclipse but people used to be frightened when this happened, because they thought that the world was coming to an end. Nowadays instead of being terrified, people are fascinated to watch such an interesting event. We are not taken by surprise because scientists can tell just where and when it is going to happen.
The last total eclipse predicted was on July 20, 1963. We were driving back from Quebec City and went off the main road to a farmhouse, and asked the farmer if we could set up our telescope. He said that we could, and we were soon ready for it. In a while, we could see a small black bite out of the sun, and it began getting a bit darker. Slowly the sun was covered and I realized that the birds had all gone back to their nests, and there was a hush that made me shiver. The eclipse was nearly total when suddenly a cloud drifted over the sun, and no matter how hard we looked, we could not see the total eclipse. The farmer and his wife who were inside watching television probably got a better view than we did because there were no clouds at Grandmère where the television cameras were but at least we made an effort to see the real thing. We soon were packing the telescope and getting ready to leave content, but rather disappointed at not seeing it all.

The speech went on to a more scientific discussion, and ended with the news of Prime Minister Pearson’s funding of a second telescope to be built in British Columbia in honour of the Queen’s visit, to be the second largest in the world. Since this was where our uncle, Carman Costain, worked, I’m sure it was good news in Penticton.

In December, the Christmas routine began again, with the card list now about 150 strong because of Cec’s travels and scientific contacts, and Cyn’s scrapbook reflects this, with cards from all over- India, Spain, Poland, as well as England. Of course news from friends came too, and a card from the Sutherlands- Dr Sutherland had been knighted in 1960, and this year, 1964, had become the Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge- included Kerstin’s wedding announcement with the news that they would be moving to San Diego. (Cyn and Cec realized the days when they babysat the Sutherland girls in Ann Arbor were long ago.) The parcels to friends and relatives were sent off but this year, there is no mention of J.M.G.E. in the list, so Cyn’s father must have died in Newcastle earlier in 1964.


Charlie’s 12th birthday was followed by Christmas, with Auntie Dottie sending the English Annuals we loved, Linda getting clothes and books, Charlie a tabletop hockey game, the cat giving us vinyl, and the adults getting more practical things. The Costains looked forward to 1965 with anticipation.

Summer 1964

The summer of 1964 was packed with activities and events. The major event was the wedding at the beginning of August, and everything else had to be fitted in around it. The first activity for the children was camp. Now I know that countless North Americans look upon their time at camp as idyllic childhood summer fun that they joyfully repeated year after year- but such was not the Costain experience. Going to camp was sold to us by our parents as a thing we ought to try- it would only be two weeks out of the summer, we would be able to have swimming lessons and canoe, we would have fun with friends. My friend Janet’s mother was working and her English parents probably thought this would be a chance to have a holiday instead of being home alone all day. But because of the time crunch, Linda and Janet were sent to the Anglican Church youth camp with girls 2-4 years younger than they were, with a couple of the mothers from the Women’s Auxiliary of our church working there too, for reassurance. We were miserable, two teens (but not teens old enough to be counsellors) in a sea of 9 year-olds, divided into wooden cabins full of bunkbeds, herded from dining hall to fireside singsong in a cloud of gloom. The activities were unexciting, the cultural appropriation of ‘Camp Pontiac’ was painful, the religion classes boring, the swimming a disaster of shrieking splashing little girls, there was not enough free time for reading! (and there was an enticing library) and the food- not what we were used to, somehow, coming from English backgrounds. Charlie’s Boy Scout Cub Camp seemed less well organized- when he returned home with a pack of wet, muddy, and mouldy clothes, it appeared from his account that he and other inexperienced tent mates were abandoned to set up their equipment themselves, and had been flooded out at the beginning, spending the rest of the fortnight in soggy surroundings. (Strangely, this was not enough to turn Charlie off camping- he’s just returned from a Labour Day weekend camping trip in Algonquin Park. It didn’t rain till Monday.)

When we returned from camp we were upset to find that we had missed the beginning of visits from relatives gearing up for the pre-wedding excitement. It was always fun having people to stay and we were glad to be home. John had completed his theology degree and was ordained, Sharon had trained as a teacher, Lorne had already been teaching that year, as were his parents, and he and Liz had baby Debbie who was adorable. Charlie and I had swimming lessons again and then in August, we were off to Brantford for the wedding, to be combined with a trip to Stratford to see King Lear, The Marriage of Figaro, and Yeoman of the Guard.

For the wedding, Cyn had made herself a dress out of a beautiful sari that the Kalras had been commissioned to buy years before in India. It was shot silk, a rich green in one light, brown in the other, with the ends embroidered with gold thread. Cyn took those ends for a wrap, and the dress from the middle yardage with the gold embroidery at the hem, and with it she wore a wonderful hat of long narrow iridescent blue and green feathers, close to the head. Merle, the mother of the groom, had a more commanding hat, pink petals outstanding, and Auntie Lily from Toronto represented the older generation. (John’s charge as a minister was ‘out West’ so the Costain grandparents, and uncles and families, could see the newlyweds once they had moved closer.) There were lots of Lees from the bride’s side, two red-headed younger brothers being groomsmen along with John’s two brothers, to escort the bride’s attendants. I was moderately pleased with my green dress, had white gloves and shoes (and nylon stockings) and a floaty headdress that blew about in the breeze. The bouquet was a surprise, being white carnations- with half of them dyed green- as if nature did not produce enough greenery for a bouquet! But I was thrilled wth a bridesmaids’ gift of a string of pearls to wear, and kept my opinion of the flowers to myself. The weather was lovely, the service went beautifully with all of us doing our parts properly, the pictures in one of Brantford’s riverside parks looked good afterwards and were relatively painless to take, and the reception was full of family and we all had fun. Then the Costains went off to Stratford and had a marvellous time.

We had been going to Stratford since I was 8, and Cec and Cyn had always bought tickets off to the side of the thrust stage down in the first couple of rows, thinking that the children would be fascinated by the actors brushing by them to enter and exit even if the plot was beyond them. (It never was, what with the summary in the programme and the play in front of us.) So on this occasion, Gloucester’s eyes were gouged out realistically above and in front of us, and I bet I was not the only one hiding my eyes! The Gilbert and Sullivan productions were always marvellous, and The Marriage of Figaro has, from that summer on, always been my favourite opera. It was a happy time and a lovely holiday.

When we returned to Ottawa, Merle and Dix joined us for a visit, and brought Liz and Debbie to stay with her family in Ottawa. I had a birthday, became a teenager, and then a new adventure would begin- Gloucester High School.

December 1963 to June 1964

The school year continued , and Christmas approached with the usual concerns of overseas parcels, cards, baking, and Charlie’s birthday. The plan to spend Christmas in Brantford was scotched, along with Charlie’s birthday festivities, when he came down with shingles- a connection from our earlier bout of chicken pox in 1957. However, he recovered in time for us to visit the Moors for New Year which was fun for the children staying up late watching old movies with their cousin Bruce, and necessary for the adults to discuss plans for the summer wedding of the oldest cousin John with Sharon- who had asked Linda to be a bridesmaid!

The winter of 1964 involved fundraising events for the church- Cyn’s Cookery Demonstration for adults, and for the young people a Sleigh Ride. This was not a happy, cozy, ‘jingle bells’ experience in my opinion. There was no ‘one-horse open sleigh’, instead a pair of horses dragged a flatbed strewn with straw on runners slowly though fields covered with knee-deep snow. The jolly companions on the wagon competed in shoving their weaker ’friends’ off the wagon into the snow, forcing them to run to the point of exhaustion to try to scramble on to the conveyance, sometimes aided by compassionate friends, or repelled by nastier bullies. The bridge of Linda’s nose received a lifelong bump when she was helpfully pulled on – along with several more victims who ended up on top of her and her glasses. The hot chocolate served at the end of the ride was poor compensation for the experience.

At school there were preparations for the musical play to be performed in the spring, and at home more personal excitement. It had been arranged that Linda would meet Sharon in Toronto during Spring Break to join the other bridal attendants for dress shopping. An air ticket was bought for Linda’s first flight alone- and I can clearly remember how I was dressed for that trip. I had a grey suit with a jacket and pleated skirt. With it I wore a white pillbox hat, white gloves (both nylon with stretchy elastic) and white socks with black shoes. John and Sharon met me at the airport and we joined the other junior bridesmaid and Sharon’s two adult friends at a bridal shop and proceeded to try on dresses. I was shy- I only knew Sharon of the party, and uttered no opinions on the outfits, but it was finally agreed that we would be wearing pretty green full- skirted dresses with white accessories. I went to Brantford with the party for the weekend, and presumably they put me back on the plane in Toronto, and I returned home with great relief. I wish there existed a letter giving Cyn’s take on the excursion (I expect I had plenty of opinions to express about it once I was home) but I remember nothing more. Probably Cyn had agreed to make sure my dress was fitted properly when it arrived, and now we just had to wait for the summer.

Easter was at the end of March, and Cyn’s birthday followed, with celebratory cards from her closest friend in England, Nancy Heslop.

The school play that year “Asses’ Ears” was a musical telling the story of the Greek King Midas, not involving his golden touch, but his later offence to the god Apollo’s music, punished with donkey’s ears. He hid these under turbans but his barber knew the secret, and whispered the news to the corn- and the growing corn rustled the news to the reapers. Grade 7s and 8s were involved in the singing chorus- and Linda and her friends were also the secondary singing-and-dancing barbers, with a jolly song “Midas has got asses’ ears” to perform. It was presented in the auditorium of the new high school that had just been built, and the Grade 8 students were very interested to see the school they would be going to after their graduation in June.

In June, there were exams, we passed, got our report cards, and Linda would be going into Grade 9 in the high school built beside the new bypass, the Queensway, a four-lane highway designed to relieve Ottawa’s traffic congestion, and link the growing suburbs being built east and west of the city.

Graduation from Grade 8 was a rite of passage that involved one of Cyn’s most successful dresses for Linda- a white sleeveless dress with a panel down the front, embroidered with pink rosebuds. This was the first time I wore nylon stockings- with garter belt and suspenders attached (pantyhose had not been invented then)- to be followed by the second time later that summer, as bridesmaid. I felt almost adult- I would be going to high school, and when I started there I would be a teenager.

November 1963

It seems somehow significant that I am writing this post on the 20th anniversary of 9/11/2001. Because in November 1963, an earlier shattering tragedy struck America and stunned the whole world.

In the Costain household, world events were discussed with references to the daily newspaper and the CBC radio, especially as they impacted friends and family. It is a pity that there are no letters from Cyn to her mother in St Vincent from October 1962, when the Cuban Missile Crisis had the world in suspense, because one would think the islands of the West Indies would have been affected. Sometime in the early 60s, the Costains got a television- not new, but a second-hand black-and-white set which required the insertion of a knitting needle to change to the other channel, that Cec had acquired from a colleague. I believe the upcoming Olympics were mentioned as a reason why the parents finally got what All Our Friends had had for years- and it became part of our daily lives quickly. Cec and Charlie watched sports, the adults watched the news, we all saw Ed Sullivan together on Sunday nights, and the Kennedys were part of the news the children might have stayed for, with Mrs Kennedy’s style and children, and the Presidents’ successful handling of Cold War crises.

On November 22nd in the afternoon, the principal, Mrs Tufts, came into our Grade 8 class and told us that President Kennedy had been shot. Charlie remembers his Grade 7 teacher telling his class. When we were sent out for recess, I remember walking with friends on the playing field as we discussed whether it was a Soviet plot and if nuclear war was likely to follow. (My husband, who grew up in Windsor Ontario across the river from Detroit, had practiced ‘nuclear bomb’ drills in the 50s in elementary school, where the children sheltered under their desks in preparation for a strike made at- the US car industry? We never experienced this sort of fear-mongering in Ottawa, but we were certainly conscious of living in Canada’s capital city, a possible target of war.) When the school day ended, Charlie and I were surprised to find our mother waiting with the car to pick us up, and we went home and watched, with the rest of the world, endless repetitions of the motorcade, and the announcement that the President had died, Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as 36th President, the plane returning to Washington, with all the gruesome details the news could include. Over the weekend, our fears were relieved by the arrest of the shooter, then there was his subsequent murder on live tv in Dallas while the body of JFK lay in state in Washington. The President’s funeral was on Monday. There was a lot of television watching.

In her scrapbook, Cyn kept a column of Art Buchwald’s from the newspaper and a cover of the memorial stamp issued the next spring. The assassination was an introduction to the troubling issues of the 60s to come: the Civil Rights struggles, the Vietnam War, the continuing Cold War, worldwide student protests, and more assassinations in the States.

Summer 1963

The Costain’s summer holiday was a road trip to Quebec City as tourists, followed by the exciting scientific event of a solar eclipse on July 20th.

We explored the old city of Quebec, stared at the Plains of Abraham where the British took over Canada- big, flat, and boring except for drilling soldiers- (by Grades 7 and 8 we had studied Canadian history covering the 18th century over and over again, while the 20th was never mentioned), took a river cruise on the St Lawrence by the Isle d’Orleans, ate yummy food, and enjoyed staying in hotels.

On the 20th of July we were on our way home, and left the highway for the back roads to find a spot that Cec had determined would be ideal for viewing the eclipse. Charlie’s telescope had been packed in the car of course, and we stopped at a farm outside Montreal and asked permission to set it up. There were no crowds, no one at the farm seemed interested, so in the laneway we had a solitary viewing of the phenomenon with the special lens, with time for each of us to see the sun disappearing as our surroundings became darker and darker, then reappeared. [I recommend the NFB film ‘Eclipse at Grand’Mère’ on YouTube which shows the interest the public had in this solar eclipse- and the boxy cars, and be-gloved ladies using their telescopes.]

Plus, at the farm, there was a puppy!

The rest of the summer was more local, with Cyn and Cec’s wedding anniversary at the end of July and Granny and Grandpa Costain staying with us for the rest of the summer.

In August, Linda’s birthday was celebrated with a family excursion to Upper Canada Village. I can’t help thinking that much of the ‘old- time’ pioneer atmosphere that the village attempted to re-create, such as the horse and buggy, must have seemed quite familiar to my grandparents, but there was a picnic table and birthday cake and Linda was 12!


A few weeks later, school started in September, with Linda in Grade 8, the top grade in elementary school, and Charlie in Grade 7. To get to school, they walked out the back door, through their garden past the old apple tree and Cec’s vegetable garden and compost pile, and crossed a fallow field to the highway. On the other side of the highway, there was a path down the edge of another field, then their church hall, and the school playgrounds. It took them 10 minutes, rather than the 30 or 40 minutes on the school bus which took them on a tour down to the river and back picking up students- and occasionally longer on icy winter days when it could not climb up the steep hill on the return journey!

A bit later in the fall, the family took the grandparents to Kingsmere, one of our favourite places to take tourists. William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th Prime Minister, was an eccentric man, whose personal beliefs in the occult only became known after his death, but one thing well known was his estate in Quebec, 24 km north of Ottawa in the Gatineau Hills. He bought this acreage in the 1920s and over the next 30 years, developed and landscaped it into a showplace modelled on English country estates, with lawns, hedges, trees, fake ruins, picturesque buildings, attractive vistas, stone statues… After his death, the Mackenzie King Estate became a lovely park with buildings and tearoom managed by the National Capital Commission, open year-round, and the Costain children always enjoyed exploring and having tea there. If you leave the pathways to walk on the lawns you realize that you are walking on thyme, not grass, and the scent is wonderful.