September 25 1969

This is the letter Cyn promised the day before, when she answered the questions in Linda’s letters, (some of which were the ones I had thought when I read her previous letters) about the Nursery School children’s behaviour!

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.

25th Aug. [although she meant Sept!] Thurs.

Darling Lindy,

I talked to Pat on the phone last night and she said that Joey had had a nice long letter from you yesterday, but had gone down to S. C. to work so she hadn’t heard any news. She said that J. liked her course but was having trouble with the transport. Apparently Janet has some classes of 300 and they all sit in front of a TV set, so she isn’t very happy about that. However, you probably have heard from one or other of them and know more than I do about it all.
I had a letter from Grannie this morning and she is still at Long Beach and will be till the middle of Oct. so if you want to write it is c/o Mrs. W. Jaeger, 22 Curley St., Long Beach, New York, N.Y. U.S.A. She encloses a [wedding/engagment?] picture of Donna and Alan [Linda’s 2nd cousin] for me to see and send back – Donna looks pretty in a ballerina sort of style – you know what I mean – dark-haired parted in the middle etc. but you should see Alan – he is bald now and he has a droopy moustache a la Bruno Gerussi and mutton chop whiskers! His mother and Grannie are horrified, but actually in the photo I think he looks kind of amusing – I don’t know if this is his aim though!
I hope that the heat in the residence has calmed down a bit now, I agree that it is horrid, but this time of year they seem to find it difficult to get it warm but not hot in bigger buildings. I hope that the false alarm Fire Alarm hasn’t recurred and that you have managed to catch up on your sleep a bit. It’s a good thing that you don’t have classes at 8 a.m. or some ungodly hour or you really would be worn to a shred. When you get all your classes and tutorials fixed send us a timetable so that we can imagine what you are doing when. I was tickled about all your lecturers having English accents except the one with an Australian accent. They sound as if they might be fun being young and I am glad that the few lectures you’ve had were interesting. Probably you will find the library less awe-inspiring when you get used to it – you might even find some light reading tucked away in a dark corner!

Inside Trent Library- more stairs.

I have been doing very badly at the library lately but Dr. Watkins’ nurse phoned yesterday for Charlie to come in for his check up so I must rush him there and then I can have another go at that fascinating 2nd. hand book shop. I am taking Charlie down to get his 120 day license today – now that Daddy is home I have to drive him in to get the car so I am bustling around and have to go and pick him up of course. Mme Gemuss is here and Saki did her frantic retreat when she realized it this morning!
I shopped this morning and bought your teabags and some of that hot chocolate powder that you don’t have to add milk, and also things to make your cookies with actually, read your roast beef diet, I can think of worse things to have every third day – imagine if it was beans or curry or something equally appetizing. I will try to remember the bra but as long as no one can trace it back to you it should be all right! At least it was a nice new one – like the lady who always put on her best underwear when she went out in case she was run over! I’m glad the washing went well – have you done your ironing yet and where do you do it? [Answer: probably never.]
Now that I have left the Nursery School, I don’t know any more bits of news about the possessive mothers, but when I left Margie had managed to part with her mother and spend a whole morning without her so that was progress. Mabel said that you could sort of see her thinking ‘Come on it’s time to go now, and then I can put on my act and get it over with!’ The kicking and screaming I gather were getting more and more perfunctory! Re: Lynn McSherry in S.S. when I said no inhibitions, I didn’t mean anything terrible! Just a general take over and everyone get out of my way here I come attitude. She comes to N.S. 3 days a week and has a little friend Janet whom she bosses unmercifully! However, the meek ones usually rebel after a few weeks of N.S. atmosphere! I had a phone call this a.m. from a mother who had her child in Manor Park but on our waiting list, and I can now get her in, so she went down to see our school this morning. She told me that she liked it so much and was very impressed with the happy atmosphere and the fact that they were all busy and creative. She added ‘I don’t like to see them just playing around and fooling’ so I wondered what had been going on at Manor Park. Mrs. Kunce is there now you know.
Did I say thank you for the funny picture of Cathy and Terry? Which reminds me that I have to take Daddy’s films this afternoon to the photo shop. On the phone on Monday he told you about how clever he had been to beat the airlines and get back to Ottawa on time even though his flight had been cancelled but Charlie and I thought we were just as clever to walk into the airport just as he got off the plane. We consulted 4 authorities – 2 by phone and 2 at the airport – and were told the flight had been cancelled and that he would arrive at 10:30, 6:30, 9:00 and 4:45 – so we ambled into the big foyer at 5 pm and there he walked through the door. He brought Charlie a boomerang from Australia, and for me a piece of amber on a gold chain and two long dangly amber earrings! The amber is fascinating – it has blobs of darker colour in it and is so light. Also for a souvenir he brought two lovely hand-embroidered pictures of Fujiyama which he saw being embroidered in a silk shop, and a little ‘peasant’ sake set made of grey pottery which he got from a pottery place Dr. Morino took him to.

Opal Ring

He has a little gift for you here which you can get at Thanksgiving but your main one is the one from Australia which is coming by mail to you.

I am enclosing a picture from a magazine of a jump suit. It is a Simplicity pattern and I got it this morning at S.C. I also got some material- pattern enclosed- which I thought would look nice and match your winter coat, but if you don’t like it let me know.

I think the suit is cute, and if you did like it I could also make it up in a gay material for lounging pyjama type of thing. Anyway, I won’t do anything till I hear from you and if you like the pattern but not the material we can perhaps get something for Thanksgiving. Do you realize that it is 2 weeks tomorrow that you would be coming home?

And she made me 2 jumpsuits as promised- without extraneous purple skirt- so clever!

This is Charlie. Will write to you on Saturday.

Monday morning.
This letter has been sitting in the typewriter all weekend waiting to be finished, but I had N.S. pay cheques and money to do yesterday and it took me all afternoon and evening. You will notice that Charlie didn’t get written either. His team got beaten by Jim’s yesterday again but he didn’t seem too downhearted – perhaps he is getting used to it now. Then there was a football game on TV and then homework and that’s the way it goes.
I drove Daddy into work this morning to get the car and then took pay cheques into the N.S. to be greeted with big hugs by Mary Anne and various others. Even Margie came up and didn’t actually hug me but grinned and chatted and my what a difference – she looked happy and cheerful and apparently her mother just says goodbye and pops off – aren’t Nursery Schools wonderful. The new teacher, Margaret Moffett was there – being very formal and polite with me – the Big Money Bags! They have a little white hamster with a little brown baby now, courtesy of Mrs. Greenwell, and in Noli’s old cage. How the poor little things will survive I don’t know as the children were all around and they were poking into the shavings trying to sleep.
I am meeting Phil for lunch today – we are going downtown but haven’t decided where yet. I am to get tickets for Charlie for the Ottawa- Hamilton game next Sat. – he is taking Crystal – apparently Papa doesn’t object now. This is my week for lunches. Pat is back at work so I have invited her and Edna Renault to lunch on Wednesday in her lunch hour and then on Thursday Margaret has invited me to lunch at her house as her mother is staying with her. I forgot to tell you that Margaret Savic came to coffee on Friday and so far Michael is still going to Algonquin, but Peter drives him every morning and takes him home every afternoon! Then in the evening he is rehearsing a play out at Britannia and Peter does the same thing again – picking him up at 11:30 sometimes. How’s that for babysitting! And Margaret says he is very serious about the girl friend and they are even talking of getting married next year! We always thought he was immature, but he’s going to have to grow up with an awful bump if he gets married on the sort of job he will be able to get it after one year at Algonquin – if he lasts the year of course.
I must fly and have a shower or I will be late for Phyl. It was lovely hearing from hearing you last night, love, and I’m glad that you finally got the parcel and that everything was OK.
Will write again soon – lots of love from us all,
Mummy.

September 24 1969

The bus from Traill in town out to the Trent Campus.

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.

24th Sept. Wed.

Darling Lindy,

I thought that I had lots of time to shorten my new bedroom curtains and then write to you, but it has taken me ages to shorten one so I have stopped and will write a short letter to mail this afternoon and then write more and mail tomorrow. I don’t know if letters I mail on Thurs. will get to you before the weekend, so you must let me know.

Minute groundhog in our back garden!

I am enclosing the pictures which came yesterday and you can send on the ones for A. Merle and U. Dix and then send the others back to us. Your little groundhog came out very well and the wedding pictures aren’t bad, but the ones taken at the Whitwell’s are a disappointment. I sent the film to that Mail Photo Place where I got them 2 dollars cheaper or something – anyway Daddy says that I got a cheap printing job too, but Charlie and I think that it was pretty poor light under the trees that day and that is why they are so sad. Anyway, here they are. Daddy brought back one roll developed and 3 more to do, but we haven’t had a picture show yet.

Cec at the airport on the way home.

Already it seems quite proper and natural to have Daddy back. And boy! – lots more dishes to wash! You can imagine how Charlie and I have been doing lately! It seems incredible that you will have been gone 2 weeks tomorrow. It seems years in some ways and hardly any in others. I went to tea with Mrs. Craven yesterday afternoon – she had Marjorie, Betty, Ruth L. and Mrs. Martin, Mrs. James and Mrs. McNally all to meet Mrs. Craven Sr. so we had a really good talky time. Mrs. C. and Betty D. and I all compared notes about our Girls of course and we all seem to think that you were doing all right. Mrs. C says they will be leaving on Sat. a.m. to go down to Peterborough, so I will take her a box of cookies for you on Friday and she says that she would be glad to deliver it. Maybe they would like to see your room too – you said something about Jean’s not being very nice – have you seen it yet? I think that I will pack up Grannie’s tea pot and put it in the parcel as you have so many guests and the little brown one is so tiny, and I won’t forget to put in the teabags – girls at Traill likeTetley’s Tea! Lipton’s is just the same!

I met Marie Tweedle in Shoppers C. on Monday afternoon and had a great long chat with her – couldn’t get away! Heard all about dear David and how he just LOVES Teacher’s College and it was just his cup of tea. They were doing Gr. 1 Arithmetic or something – ‘You are having a party and you have 5 little friends. How many boys and girls are at your party?’ ‘Yes, that’s right –6 children. Now, how many paper cups will we need’ and they put out paper cups and then plates and napkins and sit down and have a party. Marie says ‘Arithmetic is not his strong point, so I told him he’d better watch that the problems don’t get too difficult!’ Anyway, who else do you think is going to Teacher’s College? Nancy Douglas. She had a wonderful time in Europe, and got back and started right in and is apparently in the same ‘shift’. as David –, so I told Phil to ask her if she knew him! I met Sandy Cooper in S.C. also on Sat. and asked how he was doing and he has changed from Algonquin to Carleton, so I don’t know how Joey will be doing for a ride. Dr. Savic drives Michael every morning because Margaret says it takes an hour and a half – dear Michael! Sandy said that he found the course at Algonquin wasn’t what he wanted and something about having to get an 80% average to carry on at Carleton, but I didn’t quite take it in. I have phoned Pat and got no answer and then Edna Renaud told me she has already gone back to work, so I have no news of Joanne to tell you. Have you heard from her or Janet yet? I guess that was a letter from Sandra which I forwarded to you yesterday. Your brother is going to write and tell you all about a glorious Gloucester football game – I shall tell you that 2 girls came in a car last night and asked if Charlie was in, but unfortunately he was still out at the football practice. When I described them to him he decided they must be Maureen and Lois – they were cute anyway so I don’t think he should discourage them! There is a dance this Friday – GAA etc. and Charlie is now on the BAA as the Officials Rep. so he is going to have to help decorate the gym and is actually going – STAG!

I must stop or I won’t get this mailed today, but I’ll continue and answer your letters and tell you what Daddy brought home. We all love your letters – very interesting and amusing. I must say life in Residence has changed since Daddy L.L. days – bring your own booze parties weren’t known then! By the way, thinking of Daddy L.L. and some of the funny illustrations playing basketball in bloomers, do you have to take any athletics? And if so, what? Also, did you ever meet your Amiga and what is she like?
Much love from us all,
Mummy

[handwritten] P.S. It is raining – very Nobel of me to go out and mail this. Love.

The references to other letters that I was sent were spot on- all my friends were very kind about sending me the news, at least in the month of September- I have no other letters from this school year, but obviously valued the connection and hung on to the first month’s correspondence, although they have no place in this collection.
When it comes to Jean Webster’s Daddy Long Legs, I’m sure Cyn did not expect any similarities between an American girl’s college before WW1 and Traill, but if I had been expected to take part in any athletic activity, she certainly would have heard my outrage! The nicest thing about Trent was that they did not insist on any courses- no demand for a science to make me well rounded or anything- and I was allowed, after warnings that the essay load would be heavy, to take the 2 English and 2 History courses I wanted (as well as a basic Psychology course which I thought I might need as a future teacher and which resulted in the only D I ever got) so in the next 3 years I focussed on my double major to the exclusion of every other subject and enjoyed all my courses!

September 23 1969

September 23, 1969

Dear Miss Costain,

This is to let you know that I have transferred you to a group doing periods I and either II or III in History 10. This group holds its first meeting on Wednesday, October 1 in period 6 (2:00 P.M.) in President Symons’ office at Rubidge Hall. I trust this arrangement will be satisfactory; if not, perhaps you could call me as soon as possible at 748–1567.

Yours sincerely,

Douglas McCalla
Department of History

Yes, my first year History 10 seminars were with the President of Trent University, T.H.B. Symons himself, and 14 other students. We sometimes had tea around the conference table as we discussed Canadian History. He was a lovely man.

September 5 1969

These letters on the occasion of the first Costain bird leaving the nest were already complicated by the fact that one parent was travelling and the other parent was handling the departure and all the attendant details. These included almost daily letters not always dated properly! This note from Cyn to her daughter should have been the first posted- it was written the day after Cyn and Charlie drove Linda to her university and installed her, Friday September 5. The errands Cyn plans to run that day are reported on in the subsequent letters. My apologies for the mis-filing that messed up the chronology.

49 Cedar Road
Ottawa 9
Friday

Darling Lindy,
Here I am back from Nursery School and writing a note with the extra cheque for $40 which I promised you. See how things go and if you find you have enough to cover the initial expenses, we’ll wait and send the next $40 in October, but if you are running short, let us know.
It was lovely to have your phone call last night and to know all was going well. I hope that you got to sleep all right as you must have been really tired. Charlie and I haven’t been in bed so early for months, but it was quite a long drive back and so we toddled off to bed. We stopped once on the way home & I had tea & a piece of lemon pie while Charlie had a hamburger, and my pie was homemade & delicious so Charlie had apple pie which was just as good. It was only a small place & seem to be run by a family & the lady did the baking. We felt very lucky. We had tea when we got home & I had bacon & eggs & Charlie had bacon & toast. I guess you weren’t able to make a cup of tea last night, but maybe you will find a kettle etc. nearer your room. If you have to get your own kettle, you could either see if you can get one in Peterborough or wait & get one here at Thanksgiving. Which reminds me, I re-addressed the Traill Booklet & mailed it by the 9:15 post this morning so you will get it on Monday when you get this I expect.
The phone keeps ringing – Mrs Martin for me to pick her up at the Hospital this afternoon & a Sunday School mother registering her children over the phone! Nursery School was quite quiet this morning except for Lynn McSherry who has no inhibitions & made the place her own! One very clinging mother who appeared each time we got Mark interested in something, & so brought on new tears & prolonged the agony!
I am going down town to the Bank now & will take back Library Books. Then at 4 I pick up Charlie for a haircut at St Laurent. We’ll have an ice cream cone & think of you. Saki is sleeping soundly on her chair but would send a little nibble for you.
Much love Mummy.

Speaking of libraries, this is Trent Library in pre-computer days.

It is hard to look back and remember how money worked in pre-plastic times. I opened a bank account in Peterborough, but I hadn’t really had a summer job that year after high school, so had no earnings of my own to fall back on. I gather from this note that the initial expenses settling me in that Thursday had been a bit more than expected, and Cyn was making sure that I would have enough cash for anything else that might turn up. (Such as a tea kettle. I expect I ventured down town in Peterborough, cashed the $40 cheque and immediately bought an electric kettle. My grandmother had sent me an early morning tea set all the way from St Vincent and fortunately the teapot, milk, and hot water jug, and a plate had survived the journey, and were carefully included in my moving-to-Trent box of essentials. Because tea is essential.)

A decade later when I was teaching high school, there were scams focusing on getting new college students to take out credit cards and go into debt without realizing it, and teachers were asked to enlighten future victims- but in the year 69/70, no one wasted time targeting students like me!

September 17 1969: Linda’s Letter

The Library.

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.
17th Sept.

Darling Lindy,
I have just finished writing to Grannie as I haven’t written for weeks and got a letter today asking all about you and when you went to College. I gave her your address and told her about us driving you down and what we did that day, but she would love to hear from you if you have time. Her address at the moment is: – c/o Mrs. W. Jaeger, 22 Curley St.. Long Beach, New York, N.Y. U.S.A. but I don’t know how long she will be there as she doesn’t say when she is leaving. I also had 2 (continuous) letters from Daddy today, written from Japan, and he asks about you and says he will write to you so perhaps you have got a letter too, by now. It will be lovely to see him on Monday and I’m only sorry that you won’t be here too, but you must telephone anyway. Today has been a very newsy day, as I also had a phone call from Maureen asking for your address and saying she had written you a long letter – she sounded as if she had a cold, but we didn’t talk long. Then Mrs. Craven called and asked me to tea next week to meet Jean’s Grandmother, so we had a nice gossip about our Girls and Trent etc. Oh, while I am on the subject of your friends and acquaintances, Mrs Haynes phoned on Monday (about the computer course Charlie was interested in) and I asked how Janet was, but apparently being her first real day, she still didn’t know what was really going on. She had gone to one or two discussion groups last week, but found them not very entertaining, I gathered. I was in the Rideau Library yesterday and Mrs. McNeely was there so I asked her how Tom was getting on and he likes Carleton so far and says there are lots of kids he knows. Who else? Oh, yes – I was telling Fanni about your room to yourself, and she was telling me that Janek had to share a room and the Univ. wrote and asked him if he had any preferences about a room-mate, so Janek, thinking of his French said, oh, he would quite like someone from overseas, so what has he got but an Egyptian!
A break for tea and blueberry pie! I went to the Market yesterday afternoon and bought all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Last night I made Peach Chutney (had a long chat with Mrs. Pierce on the phone and the chutney caught on the bottom, so it is a bit Strong, but otherwise OK) and tomorrow I will make the Famous Dill Pickles. Today I made Charlie a blueberry pie, so I had to taste a piece to see if it was all right.

My window is hidden by the car.

Charlie and I really enjoyed hearing all about all your doings in your letters. I hope that you got the handbook I sent back to you but I don’t know if you would find it much use by the time it arrived. I’m glad that even if you miss breakfast you can make out on apples and toast and tea and don’t starve! I do feel very pleased that the brownies were so much appreciated- did you want me to send you more cookies? I don’t know how fresh they would be by the time you got them but we can always try. Let me know. And by the way, about typing your essays – Charlie came up with the idea, that if you got them done in time you could always send them home and I could do that! Actually, if you wanted them typed somewhere in town you would have to get them done in good time and it would be quite expensive I imagine, so it’s a thought. I wouldn’t mind it if you gave me time to get them done! [As it turned out, the idea of me ever getting an essay done before the due date was laughable and my professors had to make do with my handwriting.]
Can you believe that tomorrow will be one week since you’ve left home? As you say, it seems months already and this week with me at the Nursery School each morning seems to have gone on for ages. Nothing very exciting has happened there – yesterday it rained and we couldn’t take the children out to play which was rather trying, but everything is going quite well and all the children have now begun. The mother who kept coming back to wave to dear little Mark, brought him the next day and then halfway through the morning phoned to see if he was all right and of course he hadn’t turned a hair and this morning he dressed up in all the dress up clothes and roared through the rooms like a tornado! We now have a mother even worse than that though. She belongs to a little girl called Margie and apparently took her to Betty Hyde’s N. S. last year and sat with her every day for 3 months and then took her out. Well, Tues. she came with her and the 2 of them sat together all morning – Margie dragging her mother from paint to dough to jigsaws and mother tagging along. Then came circle time, and when I gave Mother a chair Margie wanted to stay with Mummy, so Mummy sat on the floor in the circle with Margie on her knee, so you can imagine how delighted I was! Today Mother and Margie arrived late with Margie dressed in old corduroy jeans and an old flannelette pyjama top fastened with 1 button! Nothing underneath – Margie hadn’t wanted to get dressed. GRR-r-r! This time Mother had been invited out to coffee so come circle time she told Margie she was going and you should have heard the screams and heard the tantrums! All the kids stood around and watched as she rolled and kicked on the floor and Mary Anne said to me “Why is the little girl doing that?” She didn’t go into circle, but in the end took a cookie and eventually went out to play and was perfectly all right. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow! The Saga of Margie.
I hope that you have got your gown by now – you really seemed to have trouble finding out about it and finding the place open. How does it feel wearing it? I am so glad that everyone is kind and helpful and that you have got to know so many of the girls and are feeling more at home. The picnic sounded fun, even if the dance was a bit of a bore, but after all the first one everyone must have been feeling strange, and they will be more fun as you get to know more people. Saki and I are very sorry that Gary has put you off Puss in Boots Cat Food, because it is the only one she will eat. In fact they have just brought out a new KIDNEY cat food which is deeelicious! I can’t imagine anything less appetizing than a cat food factory – how can he bear to eat anything now? How nice of Cathy to promise to lend you her hairdryer – you’ll have to see what Santa can do about it I guess. From that Traill booklet I gather that record players are quite acceptable, so have you had yours on much? Also don’t forget that pink card to be signed for your 20 dollar Youth Allowance – it would go nicely towards a hairdryer! I am enclosing your Library Card which came today – I thought you might as well keep it in your wallet as it might get mislaid if it just lay around at home.
I had a good little chuckle over the dry sherry and Andrew Aitkins bottle of sauterne. Did Andrew know you or say hello or anything or are you too low and meek for him to notice? I’ll be interested to hear if you see anyone else you know when the other students return.
This afternoon I had a Mrs. Johnson to tea– the person who is taking over my job in Scientist’s Wives, poor dear! She’s very nice and I like her – apparently she worked at NRC for 18 years and has only been married for 4– knows people like Kim and Beulah. I must ask people about her and find out what her romance was like! The first Scientist Wives notice came today and the Sept. meeting is up at Kingsmere and the Oct. meeting is a lunch out at the Seignory Club at Montebello – I’m not very interested in either and it is lovely to think that I needn’t go if I don’t want to.
I must stop now as I have to draft a letter to the N. S. parents from the committee – gently reminding them to pay their fees among other words of wisdom!
Saki sends lots of purrs and bites and scratches! She really misses you because she is demanding lots of attention from Charlie and me and at the weekend she was wandering around looking for something or someone to play with.
Hug from Charlie and lots of love from
Mummy

I was interested in the tone of this letter – Cyn has written the same news on the same day [Carol’s letter already posted] to her mother and her daughter, but this letter is more intimate somehow, with small details included that add to the sense of home. The comments from the parents of other people going to Trent are amusing- I can’t remember ever interacting with Linda Dowell or Andrew Aitkin who lived in our Ottawa neighbourhood but were a bit older, and although Jean Craven had been in the same classes as I for 13 years, I really never saw her until our 4th year when we rented rooms in the same house. The college system and the different disciplines really separated students so the friends I made at Trent were the ones with whom I lived.

September 1969

Now I have to go back a bit chronologically, and interrupt the flow of Cyn’s letters to her mother, because I discovered that, like my grandmother Carol, I am a packrat. I may not have kept ALL of the letters Cyn wrote me, but I discovered, while looking for pictures of my university buildings, a stash of letters from that first month of Trent, when I had begged for lots of letters from home. Both Cec, while travelling, and Cyn had responded and so I have nine loving communications sent to 18-year-old Linda to add before Carol gets an overview of the Costains’ life in October ’69.

Cec mailed these in August from Hawaii on the 18th, and then from Australia and marked them HOLD so they waited for Linda in her mail slot at Traill for her to arrive on September 11th.

When Linda was 6!

Dear Linda.,
This reminds me of your picture in St Vincent. I didn’t see much but flowers here, at four in the morning 1/2 hr stop.
Love Daddy

Dear Linda,
They are just as cute as the picture. It’s too bad they can’t live on Puss n’ Boots [cat food], I’d bring one home. Hope these find you in college.
Lots of luck,
Love Daddy

And a month or so later there arrived a large box in the Porter’s Lodge from Australia containing a surprise present sent by Cec who had arrived home weeks before.
It was a lovely soft huggable stuffie of a koala bear just like the postcard! An instant hit in residence.

September 17 1969

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.

17th Sept.

Dearest Mummy,

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 naturalistone 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
Cyn.

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.’

August 24 1969: Western Holiday

In August, with Grannie Ewing visiting her nieces in New York on her way home, the Costains took their last family trip together, flying out west to meet family members- Uncle Harry Costain in Calgary, Granny and Grandpa Costain in Penticton, along with the whole Carman Costain family- and see the Rockies, the Okanagan, and Vancouver as they drove. At the end of their stay in Vancouver, Cec had flown off for a lengthy working trip to Australia and Cyn and Linda and Charlie had taken the train across Canada home to Ottawa. It was a three-day trip and the children did not enjoy it. Charlie was bored, and Linda not only ran out of reading matter, but found that inserting her new contact lenses in a moving train was nerve-wracking and challenging. Cyn enjoyed the rest, and wrote to her mother the week after they returned.

We ate in Calgary’s Husky Tower, built for the Centennial!

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ontario.

24th August, 1969

Dearest Mummy,
Here we have been home for over a week and this is the first time I have managed to write to you – or even to Penticton to say thank you for having us. First of all, we stepped out of the air conditioned train into typical hot humid Ottawa weather last week, and it was just breathless for 3 or 4 days, then on Monday we had most violent storms with pouring rain and the temp. went down to 45 one night! It was nice and cool for a couple of days and now it is back up in the 80s today, and I don’t feel at all ambitious!
The weather wasn’t the only surprise we got when we arrived in Ottawa – when we got home Merle phoned from Brantford to say that they were coming to Ottawa that weekend to a wedding, but if we couldn’t put them up they would go to a motel. Of course we said for them to come, so next day (Friday) we rushed around and bought some food and they arrived for dinner with little Debbie. Lorne and Liz were also invited to the wedding but couldn’t get away till later, so Merle and Dix brought Debbie and they would bring Cyndie when they came and stay with the Whitwills – Liz’s family. Charlie was back in your room, so we made up his bed in the family room for Debbie and Merle and Dix had the big pull-out sofa bed, so it worked out fine. The wedding was on the Sat. afternoon, and in the morning Lorne came for Debbie, and then they all went off to the wedding – I felt quite sorry for them all dressed up, as it was about 90 and so still and sticky, and the reception wasn’t even in some air-conditioned hotel, but in the garden of the bride’s family. Merle was exhausted when she came home! While they were away I had another phone call and this was Carman! He was at the airport, and although I knew he was coming to Ottawa sometime to a meeting I hadn’t bothered to even ask the date, as he said that he had a room booked at the Château Laurier, as he didn’t know when we would be back. However, it turned out that he had been another meeting in the US and when he phoned the Château the booking was from the Sunday not the Saturday so he came along too and we had a full house that night! It was nice that Merle and Dix and Carman got a chance to chat and as it was another hot night Charlie quite enjoyed sleeping on the porch! Next day we all went to the Whitwills to lunch, and then Merle and Dix set off home as Dix had to be at work next day. Carman had dinner with us and then I drove him downtown to his hotel, and then my goodness, when I got back didn’t the house feel strange and empty with no Cec! Before that we had really hardly had time to notice!
We had two postcards from Cec on Friday – one from Hawaii where he spent an hour (4–5am.) and another from Sydney, so we know that he has arrived safely. I was so glad as he tells me that Frank Mercer (his Australian friend from Cambridge) came to meet him at the airport because Cec had written to Frank and had no reply and I know he would have been disappointed not to see him. I don’t know if he was staying with the Mercers but it would make a big difference having a friend to show him the sights.

Beginning of the holiday- Calgary and Harry Costain.
The only Costains we DIDN’T see…


I feel that I should go back now and tell you what we did at the end of our holiday. I wrote from Penticton when we were staying with Granny and Granpa Costain, and then we moved over and spend 3 or 4 days with Leona and Carman. Their house is about 2 miles from Granpa’s and fortunately it is quite big as we were a big family! Penticton is quite a nice small town – very much a resort town with 2 big lakes for swimming etc. and lots of motels and tourists. It is in a valley with hills all around and they were absolutely burnt brown, but in the valley where they irrigate it was all green and lovely. It is in the middle of a famous fruit growing area, but unfortunately they had a very severe winter and all the fruit trees were harmed and there was very little fruit this summer – no peaches or apricots or cherries, but the apples were all right. Leona took her children for swimming lessons at one of the lakes every day, so Linda and Charlie got quite a lot of swimming, but unfortunately Linda got a bad cold, and so had to keep out of the water the last few days.

We left Penticton on the Thursday (7th.) and drove to Vancouver where Cec had booked a downtown motor hotel for us. It was very convenient and the first evening we walked down the street and found a very nice German restaurant where we had a marvellous dinner, so we thought we were very lucky. We were so fortunate in the weather in Vancouver – it was sunny and lovely all the time, although there was a haze over the mountains around the city, but apparently this is quite typical. I was quite taken with the weather in Penticton too – it was very hot and sunny during the day, but if you sat in the shade it feels lovely with a little breeze, and as soon as the sun went down in the evening it got really cool and you needed a sweater. I may tell you that I never once had my pretty white spotted raincoat out of the case, so weren’t we fortunate?
After dinner that first evening in Vancouver, Cec phoned a few people and I phoned Olwen Wright. Do you remember her? She was at College with Dottie and me and eventually married a boy in the Army called Noel. Anyway they now live in Vancouver, so I called and we had a chat and arranged for us to go out that evening for a drink. They live in a very pretty house with a stream running through the garden, but it was nearly dark when we arrived so we didn’t see much. I don’t know if I would have known them, as Olwen is now blonde and Noel is plumper, but we had quite fun catching up on news. Olwen has 3 children all older than mine – the oldest girl is married then a boy of 19 going to University and a girl a bit older than Linda still going to school. We didn’t see them as one sister was visiting the other and the boy has a job. Owen was telling me that she had had cancer, which I didn’t know, but she had had an operation and it had been OK for a few years now. She didn’t say where it was – anyway she was having a check up that weekend so was booked up with the Drs etc. and we didn’t see them again. It must be over 25 years since I saw her, so it really was interesting – they have bought land in Antigua and Dominica I think when they were there on a holiday a few years ago and are talking of moving there when their family is off their hands.
On the Friday we went up to the University of British Columbia where Cec had various people to see. It is a beautiful campus with lovely lawns and gardens and fountains in amongst the buildings. One of the Professors took us to lunch at the Faculty Club and then we went and sat for a while in a Japanese Garden while Cec saw some other people. Afterwards we went to a lovely park on an island in the harbour called Stanley Park where they have a Zoo and also a big aquarium where they have a big outdoor pool with a dolphin and a whale who give a show every few hours. It was fascinating, and the whale had the most amiable looking grin on his face and looked as if he were thoroughly enjoying it all!
That evening we went out to dinner to a ship anchored in the harbour which has a famous Seafood Buffet. They have a great big buffet table with over 58 different kinds of fish and various salads and things as well as all sorts of hot dishes on a hot table, and you can go back and back and eat as much as you want! Our only complaint was that our capacity wasn’t big enough as we would have liked to try even more, but what we did have was delicious. It was a lovely setting looking out of the water at the lights in the city and we thoroughly enjoyed it.


Next day we went across to Vancouver Island. I hadn’t realized that it was such a trip or that the island was so big, but the ferry took us about 4 hours. We arrived at Nanaimo and went north to a National Park where there are some wonderful old Douglas Fir trees some 800 years old and absolutely immense. We then had to drive back south through Nanaimo again and down to Victoria which is at the southern tip of the island.

It is a very pretty city with lovely gardens and lovely hanging baskets on all the lamp posts. We only had that evening to look around a little and then next morning we went to the Buchart Gardens which are very well known and absolutely beautiful. I sent you a folder of pictures of it and although the colours weren’t very good you would get some idea of how lovely it was. We had lunch there, and then went and took a different ferry back to Vancouver. That evening we went to dinner in Chinatown and had the best Chinese dinner I have ever had. Even Linda tried the Chinese food and enjoyed it and Cec was amazed when we got the bill that it came to less than 2 dollars each! We had been sent there by a friend of Cec’s in Vancouver and it was definitely a place for Chinese to eat and not a tourist trap, so we did very well and enjoyed it very much.


Next morning, Monday 11th, we got up early and all went with Cec to the airport and saw him off on the plane to San Francisco at 8am. We had handed over the car the previous night, so we took the bus back to the motel and had a rest and packed and then took a taxi to the station and left our bags. The train wasn’t till 7:30pm so we had lunch and shopped and went and sat in Stanley Park, then had something else to eat before we went back to the station. We had three berths and I thought the trip was quite fun but Linda and Charlie were bored stiff! Charlie couldn’t read because of the motion, so he played patience, and of course we had two dome cars and could go and look at the scenery, but as Linda says, the scenery in Canada goes on for so long! Linda and I enjoyed the meals and I definitely felt stuffed, but Charlie wasn’t very hungry so they were very glad when the 3 days and 3 nights were over! As for me it was a nice interlude before picking up the daily cares at home, and I enjoyed it!

We found our pussycat very well and plump as usual and Beulah had looked after everything beautifully. We have loads of lovely tomatoes and corn, but of course the veg. garden is covered in weeds and although I have worked at it on and off I haven’t begun to make an impression yet. You’ll be glad to hear that the seeds you planted – the phlox – have come up and I have a few sweet peas and some morning glories. The nasturtiums are doing well and the sweet little groundhog hasn’t touched anything but is getting bigger and fatter on apples dropping off the trees. He sits up and eats them and throws the cores away just like any other person and doesn’t seem to have touched the garden.
From all you told me you must have had a lovely time with Mill and Ford and I enjoyed getting your two letters and hearing all about what you were doing. I am glad that you bought a hat and another dress or two and it sounds as if Ford had taken you to some very nice places. You will be going down to Long Beach this weekend and I hope that Monie and Owen had a nice weekend at Camp and that Marga’s leg is better. I know you will be sorry to leave Mill and Ford but you will enjoy being with the Banners and Jaegers too. Please give them all our love.
Of course I have been hopping with the Nursery School all this past week – all the parents are phoning, and I am buying supplies and Charlie is painting some of the outdoor equipment and Marjorie and I have been repainting some of the indoor furniture, so we have been busy. Linda’s birthday was on Friday too and Cec and I gave her a suede jacket and a dressing gown and slippers while Charlie gave her a nice little alarm clock. She got various things from her friends but will probably be writing to tell you all about it. We asked Carman to dinner to make it more of an occasion and he really hit the spot by arriving with long stemmed red roses in a big florist box for her!
And I must stop now and get to bed. Charlie has gone to the Exhibition (big annual Agricultural Fair + Grandstand Show + Midway) with some of his friends so I don’t know when he will be home. I don’t envy him in the dusty paths amongst the crowds on this hot night!
Much love to the Banners and Jaegers from us all and lots for you too
from
Cyn.

This letter may have arrived after Carol had gone on to Long Beach, or even back home in St.Vincent, because written on the bottom of the letter is a note from one of the nieces:

Carol dear –
Your letter arrived. So glad to hear from you. Come back soon again. I wish I was in nice, warm green St. Vincent! Love M.

Summer 1969

As the summer approached, the Costains celebrated Carol’s arrival in Canada. After all the planning, Cyn could relax and enjoy having her mother to chat to, have lunches and teas with the ladies that Carol had met on previous visits, and watch her adjust to the grandchildren, older and taller, and changed?

Cec in gardening clothes, Linda, Cyn and Grannie back from church…

Cec had a vegetable garden to put in although he would not be around to enjoy the harvest this year, since at work he was preparing for his trip on August to Australia. It was something he was looking forward to, but meanwhile, he enjoyed his colleagues and his research.

The NRC Pure Physics Division, 1969

June was an eventful month – we were excited to show Grannie the new National Arts Centre by the canal in downtown Ottawa- 3 theatres, with ballet, plays, concerts and restaurants.

.

There were family celebrations as well, for Cec’s birthday and Father’s Day and then the end of the school year.

Linda was finishing high school, and had been accepted into Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario- a new university based on Oxbridge (lectures, tutorials, gowns, and a college system accommodation). Charlie would be going into Grade 13 in September at the age of 16. They both had exams to sit in June and then a month of summer before their family trip. Charlie had signed up for a senior swimming certificate and Linda had a part-time counsellor job at a day camp in the high school grounds.

And at home, friends and neighbours joined us for parties in the garden.

In August, Carol said goodbye and flew down to New York to visit her nieces, and the Costains packed up and went west on their family trip.

April 27 1969

As I read these letters from 1969, I am surprised at the amount of work that Cyn does, with her children 16 and 17 and perfectly capable of doing much more for themselves. In the last letter, she told Carol she was exhausted after a full day of activities, and had to make dinner for the children before going out to a banquet with Cec. Why not tell the kids to feed themselves? But then I remember that Cyn’s kitchen was HER kitchen- I did learn from her, but more by osmosis rather than direct instruction, and not by working with her collaboratively. Certainly I had friends who got the family dinner on for their working mothers, a thing I would not have been able to do then. After this last year at home, I went away to university and lived in residence being fed in my college- it wasn’t until my fourth year at Trent that I moved out and had to cook for myself, and then my mother gave me a collection of recipes scaled down for one person so that I could make stock, soup, meatloaf, hamburgers, and gingerbread!
However, in this letter we learn that Cyn accompanied Cec to his meeting at Penn State, leaving the kids to manage for themselves for a few days, so obviously she didn’t mind them cooking for themselves if she wasn’t around! A word about amenities- the area outside the Ottawa city limits where the Costains lived was growing amazingly during the years the children went to high school, with new housing developments, apartment buildings, schools, and 6 lane highways connecting them all, being built on the fields that Cyn had driven past in the 50s to buy her meat in the village of Orleans- where there were now shopping centres, and more housing developments- and their high school also grew every year- a second floor, a new wing, a tower, and more and more students until other high schools went up in the new communities. However, it would be years before the Costains’ suburb was offered the sewer and water services that a city enjoys. Each house had a well for water, and relied on a septic tank- which had to be unearthed every few years and pumped out, thus destroying lawns or gardens. Cec had designed the patio in the back yard with removable concrete tiles to mitigate the destruction, but I’m sure Cyn was sorry that this would be happening the spring her mother was visiting.
And as the letter shows, plans for Carol’s visit to Canada and then New York were being made, in spite of airline strikes…

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ont.

27th April, 1969

Dearest Mummy,
I am so sorry that I was late for your birthday. I had the card and little necklace all ready, but it was too early to send, then last week I made a great long list of all the things I wanted to do before you came (I know I won’t get half of them done!) and I got so busy that I forgot all about the date and was horrified to discover that it was actually the DAY! I hope that you had a nice time, and from what you said in your letter to Linda and Charlie it sounded as if you would. They both say thank you for the letter and I say thank you for two to me also. I haven’t really written since we got home from Penn State, but we had a nice trip home all in one day, and were back in time for dinner. Linda and Charlie had everything spic and span and they had managed beautifully – haven’t even had one fight they told me!


We had a good Easter weekend, with some good sunny days and we had the Ganders all to dinner on Easter Sunday. The weather was lovely for a day or so and I got quite enthusiastic about the garden and did some clearing up, but since then it has been a bit chilly and I don’t like to go out in it! It is quite early yet for us, but we have some tulips and daffodils in bud. Unfortunately we are going to have to have a new septic tank and drainage tile, so this will make a mess in the back garden, so there is not too much point in being ambitious until it is over. We had hoped that this would be over before you came, but at the rate it is taking the men to get started, you might be here for all the excitement and get to CHRISTEN the new septic tank! Cec is very busy taking out the the old hedge between us and the Cyr’s – it grew a mile a minute and he got fed up with cutting it so he is taking it out and we are going to get some pretty flowering shrubs in its place. I have ordered some seeds for the garden and you can help me start them in the porch and we will see if we can have a Blaze of Glory. I am most anxious to hear how A. Moo’s geraniums and fairy rose seeds get on but I don’t suppose there has been time for much to happen yet. Mr. Graham brought me a purple gloxinia which he had grown from a leaf last week, and it is looking very exotic and colourful at the moment and I only hope that I can keep it like that till you come.


You were asking in your letter what you could bring us from St. Vincent and we are delighted at the prospect! I know that Cec would love some rum – he likes the nice dark W.I. rum and always remembers your ‘refined cane juice’ parcel with great pleasure! Linda and I would very much appreciate some Liberty material and as for table mats, the ones you brought me last time are still as good as ever. I use them every single day, so if they have some in new bright colours I wouldn’t say no to a change, but I still like the plain ones very much and wouldn’t like embroidery or anything of that type. For Charlie I had the idea that you might bring him some swimming trunks if you were stuck for an idea. I am enclosing a picture of the kind he wears and he takes a MENS with a 30 inch waist – you can probably get Jantzen or some make like that but remember Charlie is quite conservative and wouldn’t like anything too gay!

I was most interested to hear about your expensive two piece and hope that you are happy with it when the dressmaker is finished, also that ‘my’ long sleeved dress will be useful. Remember Monie’s comments and don’t go filling up your suitcase with TOWELS or your hostesses will be insulted! Also I was going to say, things like hairspray and shampoo etc. are so cheap here there is no point in you’re bringing them, so don’t forget – look at everything and think “Will I really need it? “!! We will be able to get you some more shoes from Eaton’s catalogue while you are here and I wouldn’t worry about much in the hat line as you will want to get a new one, and apart from Church no one wears them and not even in Church half the time.

You were all excited about Cec’s book as you called it – well, if you recall, I said a chapter in a book – it is a sort of science reference book, and each chapter is on a different field, so Cec wrote the one on Microwave Spectroscopy, but as for A. Muriel’s suggestion about him making his fortune, just think how many people are eagerly awaiting for a book on such a thrilling topic! We were laughing about the royalties which he would get – as much as 5¢ perhaps!

Last week Marjorie Graham and I had a day out. The IODE (a female organization) was having a Historical Trip to Kingston and Jo Cardinal phoned me up and asked if I would like to buy a ticket and go. It was 12.50 for the bus, lunch and tea, so I asked Marjorie and we thought it would be quite fun and a nice days outing. Cec drove us down town on Wednesday morning to get the bus at 8:45, and unfortunately it was the wettest morning you ever saw! However, the forecast said ‘clearing’ so we set out – three buses full of women – and arrived in Kingston about 11am. The Kingston Historical Society provided guides to take us around and our guide took us first (in the bus of course, as it was still raining) to the Royal Military College, and after showing us around the grounds we all got out and saw their Museum. The College is on a peninsula right out into the St. Lawrence, so would have been a glorious sight on a fine day, but it was very interesting anyway. We then went to a new hotel and had a very nice lunch, with a talk on Kingston afterwards and some coloured slides of some of the old houses, etc. We then went in the bus to one of these old houses which has been restored and refurnished in the right period and Sir John A. Macdonald once lived there and it was very nice and most interesting although the poor man had a most unhappy time there, as his baby son died and his wife was in the last stages of consumption and died not long after they left. Fortunately there was a happy ending as he married again some years later and was very happy!

After that we went a tour of the city in the bus and the guide pointed out various sights and took us to another small museum, and then we went a drive right along the river to Gananoque – pouring all the time of course, but still! We went to an Inn there and had a most delicious tea, and then left and were back home in Ottawa at 8:30, where Dick met us and drove us home. Of course Marjorie and I talked all day long and caught up on all sorts of gossip!

Mr. Graham (Rector) is off on his holidays today – a month in England, the Channel Islands and France. He hasn’t been looking too well lately, so I hope that he will have a good time and return rested and refreshed. It is the 30th anniversary of his ordination this summer, so instead of waiting and giving him a present on the actual day, they made a collection and decided to give him a cheque to help towards his holiday. Last Sunday they had a surprise Coffee Party after Church and the wardens presented him with a cheque for 300 dollars and the ACW gave him a small light weekend case (he wanted one he could carry himself) and a cheque for 50 dollars to buy himself a memento of the occasion when he was in Europe. He was very surprised and delighted and on the actual day, when you are here they plan to have a cake and a sort of party.

As you know I am sure, we are having an Air Canada strike, but Mr. G. is going on a charter flight, and I hope that it is all over and finished long before you come.

I nearly forgot to tell you about the Miles for Millions Walk last week – it already seems a long time ago. Of course your noble grandson walked to the 40 miles again – in fact they said that it was actually 43 this year but they counted it as 40. They began at the Parliament Buildings at 8am and Charlie and his friends were finished at 7:30pm. They only stopped twice the whole time, and otherwise tramped along steadily. They finished in the first 400, but a Mr. Frank Cook (husband of plump blonde girl in our WA) ran all the way and finished at about 1:30pm! He is a long distance skier and quite an athlete, but he is 47, so it was considered quite something. Altogether there were about 50,000 started the walk and about 4000 finished I think, so that was very good, but people weren’t so generous at giving money to the walkers this year. Charlie was very happy with his Generous Family and delighted that you supported him, so I will give him the 6 dollars to send in for you.

I must stop now as it is time for a cup of tea. It is raining again and I must say it eases my conscience that I can’t go out and garden. Will write again with Final Arrangements!
Much love from us all
Cyn

Love to A. Muriel. Thank her for her letter.