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

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

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

November 22 1968

After a leap of a month, during which Cyn was back working as a substitute at the Nursery School, she catches up in November with her mother’s letters and the events in the Costain family. In St. Vincent, Carol is planning her visit to Ottawa next spring, and she and her sister Muriel seem to have suffered a burglary, something that happened again and again over the years. In Ottawa, Cyn fills in the details of past events- Linda’s birthday presents, Charlie’s fundraising walk- and then goes on to present activities, and alludes to the preparations for Christmas. There will be little to mention about that, however, because there are no more letters until March and April 1969, and then a gap until August.

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9,

22nd Nov. 1968

Dearest Mummy,
Thank you so much for your last letter and the cheque for 30 dollars for Christmas. I was going down town shopping yesterday so I went to the Bank and cashed the cheque and had your book made up, and you have 677.34, which of course is in Canadian dollars, so you can change that into W.I. dollars and you must have well over a thousand W.I. Surely that is enough for you your fare and stay here, so you should not have to worry about money. Cec and I laughed and laughed about you hiding your money in the tea cosy so that it wouldn’t be stolen and then forgetting all about it! It was a nice surprise to find it I am sure, but I hope that the police find poor Auntie Muriel’s silver too. Please thank A. Muriel for her letter to me.
While I was in town I went to a handicraft shop where I had ordered a lamp shade months ago. I don’t know if I told you that I gave one to Cec last Christmas, which we both liked very much – it is off-white translucent stuff with real maple leaves and ferns etc. embedded in it, and when the lamp is lit it looks lovely. The one I gave Cec is big, for one of the standard lamps, and we liked it so much that we decided to get a small one for our wall lamp as the shade for that is quite brown now with age and the heat of the lamp! [and because Cec smoked.] However, the one I ordered wasn’t there but they gave me the choice of two others which I brought home and tried and have decided to keep one, so I suddenly thought that this would be a nice Christmas present from you to Cec and me, so that is where 10 dollars of your money has gone! Thank you very much – we both think that it is lovely.
I also had always meant to write to you about Linda and her birthday money which you sent her – she wrote to you, but I didn’t think it was one of her better efforts in letter writing. For heaven sake don’t tell her I said that though! I told her what you said in your letter about buying some book of prayers or something of that type, but she had no idea of anything she would like. We finally managed to go down town one day to the Canterbury Book Shop but couldn’t see anything she wanted in the religious line, and it seemed to me that it was pointless to buy a book she was never going to look at, so I let her buy one or two paperback books of Elizabeth Goudge etc. which she wanted [‘The Dean’s Watch’- totally ‘in the religious line’ in my opinion, still love it] and she was very keen to get this song book, so she spent the rest of the money on that and a pair of ‘pantie Hose’ in a kind of mesh which are fashionable just now. The song book is a very nice one and she does a lot of playing out of it and singing too, so she is using it and enjoying it. I don’t think that you need to worry too much about her religion – there aren’t too many 17 year old girls who go to church every Sunday without fail, teach Sunday School and sing in the choir and go to choir practice every week. She has also been going to classes for Sunday School Teachers, so she is fully occupied, and likes doing it.

You have kept asking for news of the Miles for Millions Walk, but I never could tell you much until last month we finally got the enclosed little paper and our receipts for income tax purposes. I know you will be interested to see that St. Vincent got some of the money but amused I expect, that it was for Family Planning! But wasn’t that a fantastic amount of money from one city? Over four hundred thousand dollars.
I have been teaching at the Nursery School for over 3 weeks and finally finished on Tuesday. I must say that I felt delighted when it was over, although I really enjoy it while I am there and it was fun getting to know the children, but I seem to have so much to do at home and it all gets behind hand when I am working. Of course I had Christmas parcels to do too and there is sewing I want to get busy with and of course the job of Treasurer and Registrar for the Nursery School takes a lot of time. It is really a big business now and we have over 1000 dollars in the bank, so I really have to work over the accounts. I was busy with them this morning and I am 3 cents out with the bank, which is very annoying! I have decided that I shall have to get Cec to check my figures on an adding machine at work and see where I have lost the pennies!

And passed her Driver’s Test as well- recommend testing in an Ottawa winter, parallel parking in 9 inches of slush means no one can see the curb!

I don’t know if I told you that Linda is learning to drive. The age for getting a license is 16 here, but Cec would not let her do anything last year, but this year they have a Driver Training Course at the High School, run by the Safety Council of Ontario, and she is taking this. It is an excellent course, and the statistics show that young people who have taken it are involved in a big percentage less accidents than those who haven’t, so we felt it was a very good thing for her to take. It cost $68, so it isn’t exactly cheap, but for that she has 12 weeks instruction – 2 hours a week classroom instruction and twice a week driving, so when that is over she should be able to pass her Drivers Test. It involves US in a lot of driving right now, as we have to drive her down to the high school at 7 o’clock on Mon. evenings, and back at 9, for her classroom work, and then down again on Wed. for her driving lessons and back again, and on Sat. at 8 o’clock in the morning for more driving lessons and back again! I know that 8 am is nothing for you early birds, but it is usually the only morning we get to just wake up when we want to, and now I have to get up at 7 as usual and get Lindy up etc. Very trying! However, I am glad that she is learning this way, as I don’t think that she has much natural aptitude, and I think that Cec would have gone grey rapidly if he had had to do it all! Of course she has had no experience, and it took her an age to learn about to ride a bicycle too! [In my defence, I would like to say that Cec was not a good teacher about anything- I got help with my maths and science problems from my brother a year behind me in school, because Cec was just so amazed that child of his could be so obtuse about things that were so clear to him- and, that the bicycle problem came from living on a major highway so not given one until I was older than most kids.]

The BIG event of this month was on the 1st Nov. when Lindy had her Graduation at the High School. With having 5 years of High School here, but some students only taking 4, it means that ones like Linda graduate from both Grade 12 and Grade 13 – the former is Junior Matriculation and the next one, next year it will be her Senior Matriculation. So this wasn’t the Real Big Graduation, but still it was quite an event and there was a lot of excitement about it. The actual Graduation ceremonies were on the Friday evening at the High School and there was a dance on the Sat. evening, but it was a queer thing, neither Lindy nor any of her pals were invited to the dance, and I don’t think many of the boys in her class went either – if they did they took little girls in Grade 9! I thought it was a pity and I know Linda would have liked to go, but when none of the girls were going it really didn’t worry her and she was excited about the graduation and enjoyed it.

Of course she had to have a new dress, but she wears party type dresses so little that I couldn’t see spending 30 dollars or so on something she would probably wear only two or three times. On the invitation dress was ‘Informal’ but most of the girls wanted something a bit special, so I took out one of the dresses Margs sent me by Monie last year – I think I told you at the time. They were both party dresses with big full skirts, and one was a very pretty cornflower blue chiffon, so I unpicked the skirt which was yards wide and asked Lindy how she would like a dress of that. She was all enthused – she really is a pet – a lot of girls would have turned up their noses at a homemade dress out of passed on material, but she was just as pleased as if it were from the most exclusive shop! We chose a pretty pattern – very simple straight style, with a cowl neck line and full sleeves gathered into a cuff, and we got lining and lined the whole thing except the cowl and the sleeves, so it really looked very dainty and pretty and the colour suited her beautifully. I am enclosing a piece of material and a picture of the pattern so that you will get some idea I have what it is like, and Joanne’s Uncle took some pictures of them so that later on I will send you one.

Linda, Joanne, and Janet.

The graduation was great fun from our point of view – Cec said it was a long time since he had been to such a fashion show. Some of the girls looked so nice and others so odd, and the last year’s Grade 13, who were going on to a party of their own afterwards were mostly attired in elaborate long evening dresses. One of them was a real shocker – the whole auditorium nearly collapsed – this tall good-looking girl swept onto the stage in evening dress with a V neck down to the waist in front and extremely bare bosomed, and then lo and behold when she walked across the stage and we saw her back it was bare down to her tail bone! Cec’s only regret is that he was gazing at her so hard he forgot to look at the Principal and see how he was looking! If we had seen her in the Château Laurier we would have been stunned, but at a High School Graduation it was really something. Her parents were sitting not far from us – very respectable members of our church, but I don’t know what they thought of it!
I must stop now as I have to get dinner and L. and C.will be home soon. I have some stamps off your letters to send and some seeds but I think I will wait till after the Christmas rush. Lots of love from us all to you and A. Muriel, Hello to Doris and June and Luenda.
Much love,

October 1968

I include a newspaper clipping from the Ottawa Citizen because, small though it is, it gives a picture of some of the issues of that year.

Cyn’s note: You sent me a cutting about this didn’t you?

The establishment of the American Peace Corps that decade influenced the start of similar organizations in other counties, including Canada. [Ten years later, Linda would go to Nigeria, along with a cohort of other young Canadians, teaching there for two years with CUSO, working with Nigerian teachers, NYSC graduates, and other ex-pat teachers; meeting volunteers from the VSO in England; making friends and enjoying her students in what was a very positive experience.] Cyn and her mother exchanged news, letters and newspaper clippings about subjects of interest, and Carol kept one of these from October 1968, about an Ottawa surgeon volunteering in the summer in St. Vincent, so that the local surgeon could take a holiday. The Canadian Executive Services Overseas and the Canadian Medical Association worked together to make this possible and it seemed to be successful.

On the reverse side of the clipping is a story about children sniffing glue, citing the death of a 10-year-old Ottawa boy, and the efforts of a local entrepreneur in Hull, across the river from Ottawa in Quebec, to restrict the sale of glue to minors. Linda and Charlie may have been unaware of it at the time, but the drug culture was affecting their school and their generation.

The last story on the clipping is pure 1968, in that the very respected fundraising of the United Appeal featured a “psychedelic go-go breakfast” for its campaign workers! Sadly, the story does not feature the menu, but focuses on the need to “hustle” to beat the figure raised in the previous year.

October 4 1968

On the day that Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, I am posting a letter that refers to my mothers’ invitation to one of the 2 Czechoslovakian scientists who were friends of the Costains and were affected by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968- when Vladimir Putin and I were 15 years old. I wonder what his memories are of that year?

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ontario.

4th October, 1968.

Dearest Mummy,
Such a nice feeling today – there’s nothing that I absolutely HAVE to do! It’s amazing how few days there are like that, but although we have Carman staying with us, he is going to be out to dinner; and I have a dress for myself which I am sewing, but there is no great hurry; and I have a basket of ironing but there is nothing unusual about that; and I don’t have the car so I can’t go anywhere; so I am going to write to you and then maybe get on with my dress. The dress (I will send you a little bit to see) is a dark cotton – brown and blue shades – which I thought would be nice for this time of year. I should have had it at the beginning of this week as we had such hot weather – 80 and over – but today is to be a high of 50 and may be frost tonight. However I am making it with long sleeves so I will still be able to wear it for a while. We have really been having lovely weather, all September was sunny and warm and everything was still green until a few days ago, and they have just begun to turn and some leaves are dropping now. I haven’t heard much about hurricanes this year so I hope that you are having fairly decent weather and that you have had no more earthquakes. It must be very scary but one thing I should think that Noyack is like a rock it is so solidly built, but I hope that nothing ever happens to prove it.
I don’t think that I have ever thanked you for your letter of 20th Sept. – I phoned Mr. Schuett about the batteries and he sent them so I hope that you will have already received them when you get this letter. I am sorry that I haven’t written for a couple of weeks, but last week Charlie came home from school on Monday looking pale and wan and said he felt awful – he hadn’t eaten his lunch and he just went up and lay on his bed and fell asleep. Later I woke him and he had a temp. of over 100, so I packed him into bed with aspirins, and then Lindy said that she had a cold and sore throat, and in the morning they were both in bed! It seemed to be the same infection but took them in different ways – Lindy’s in her throat and a bit in her ears and Charlie the temp. and then later throat and cold. I kept them in bed 2 days, and then on Thurs. Madame Gemusse, my cleaning lady was coming, and they both hate to be at home when she is cleaning around, so they both insisted they were better and went off to school! They have been coughy and coldy since, but it seems to be clearing up slowly, and then of course this Mon. I got it – only a bad cold, but fortunately although it was miserable for a couple of days it seems fine now and Cec just got a very slight touch, so we are all OK once more! One thing, when the children are sick now they don’t need looking after, and I just more or less go on as usual! One day that they were in bed I was very noble and went down to the Church and helped clean the kitchen. During the summer the men of the Church painted the outside, all that white stucco, you remember? It was quite a job, and they used the kitchen to store the paint and wash the brushes and as general junk room, so it got in an awful mess, and we decided that when they got the stuff out we would have to have a general clean. A lot of the women had helped clean and paint furniture in the Nursery School during the summer, but I was away when they did that, so I felt that I was in duty bound to help clean the kitchen. Four of us did it and it took us the whole morning – cleaning ovens stoves walls sinks counters and floor, and it looked very nice when we were done. However, I’m very glad that I have Mme. G. at home to do my cleaning for me! She comes every other Thursday and is here from 7:45 am till 4 pm and she only takes a little while for lunch and really works hard, so I am very pleased. I pay her $10 for the day, which is the going rate now, but she works for her money whereas you hear of others who don’t come till 9 and leave at 2:30, so I am very satisfied with her. I can’t say that my French is improving much, but at least I have to talk French to her so I am getting some practice and I am surprised at remembering as much as I do. She can bring up the odd English word if we are stuck, and we have great giggles over it! I am thoroughly enjoying being at home all day after my N.S. job last year. I was saying that everyone should take a job for a while, it is so lovely when you stop! The Registrar and Treasurer job is really a lot of work but of course I can do that when I feel like it and I don’t have to rush out every morning. Last week, Mrs. Greenwell, the lady who took my place, had to go and observe another school, so I went and took her place for one morning, so that was quite fun just doing it once in a while, and if anyone was sick I would go and step in for them. I get paid for that, but of course the other is my social work for the church and I don’t get paid for it. You said that you were surprised when you heard that I wasn’t teaching this year – perhaps I forgot to tell you earlier, but when I said I would teach right at the beginning I said “For One Year” until the school got on its feet and could afford to pay the regular salaries. It’s worked out fine, and we are even considering opening 2 afternoons a week as we have so many enquiries still.
Marjorie is the Chairman of our Nursery School Committee which does the business side, so we will have to have a meeting and decide about the afternoons when she comes back from England. She has been over for 3 weeks seeing her Mother, who doesn’t want to travel now, so Marjorie left Jeannie and her husband to look after themselves. Her Mother has this embolism in her leg so can’t get out much, and doesn’t even go out much anymore, but otherwise she seems to be well. We had Dick Graham and Jeannie to dinner this week, and I think Marjorie will be back next week, so I’m sure that they will be glad to see her. I hope that you are planning your trip to Canada for next year – you know your grandchildren are so grown up already, you had better come and see them before they spread their wings and leave home! You know there is not much chance of us all coming to St. V. together again, as the fares for all 4 of us really cost so much, but I think Linda particularly would love to come for a holiday on her own sometime and of course they are both very keen on getting summer jobs now so it means we won’t be having family holidays together much more. When they are both in University Cec and I will be much freer and perhaps be able to come down on our own sometime. Until then, you must just come up and see us! Next summer, I had thought that I might get a trip to Europe with Cec to a meeting, but there is no word of the meeting yet, and in the meanwhile Cec has had an invitation to give a paper at a big meeting in Australia – Sydney. The Gov. is being very mean about money just now and cutting down on all sides, but Dr. H. says Cec hasn’t been away much lately and that he thinks he should go, so that is very nice. Cec first suggested that we might see if we could afford for me to go with him, but the fare for me return is 1500 dollars, let alone living and spending there etc., so I said it would be wonderful, but really I would rather go 3 shorter trips with him to Europe or the U.S. than spend such a huge amount at once and then be hard up. Also of course, Linda will be beginning University then and for the first time we will have to pay directly for her education, instead of just in our taxes, so that this is a few thousand dollars a year extra. Anyway, as far as we know, Cec will be off to Australia in August next year but otherwise no plans. Charlie and Linda both want to get summer jobs, so I don’t know what they will be doing. This year it was very hard for students to get jobs – did I tell you that Bruce was working in the tobacco fields? The picking is very hard work but very well paid, but he was loading racks in the drying sheds, not quite such high pay but it didn’t kill him. I must say that I admire these youngsters who do these jobs to get money to help with University fees etc. and I think it is very good for them and helps to make them very responsible and mature. I wonder if Patrick and some of the fellows like him would deign to work like that – but of course as you say, the Hughes are wealthy! I can’t help being amazed that law in St.V. should be so lucrative though!
I hadn’t heard that Patsy was coming out for a visit, and very intrigued with Peggy’s opinions on Tony and his quelling effect on Patsy. I didn’t think that Patsy could be quelled and I have no recollection of Tony or what he is like at all. I suppose that it is not unusual for sisters to dislike each other’s husbands, but probably Patsy feels the same way about Alex – you must tell me what you think of Tony and Patsy when you see them. Probably it would be more fun for the girls on their own, because as I recall Alex isn’t exactly convivial with visitors, and if Tony isn’t either it will be a pity. I hope that Rosemary got back to England for her swimming and did well in the competitions. Do you think that her time in England has improved her? You said that before she went she was quite a little madam and so bossy and wanted her own way, but if you only saw her a few times, I don’t suppose you could really tell. I must say that girls of 16 and onwards are a pain at times! At the beginning of the summer I thought I couldn’t possibly stand Linda for another year before she went to University! You remember what girls are like with their mothers! Nothing I said or did was right, and anything that went wrong was my fault, and no matter what I said I got back a smart answer! G-r-r-r! As you can imagine I didn’t take kindly to it, but thank goodness, it has improved immensely now and she is quite a normal human being once more and even acknowledges that I am too! It must have been just a stage! Charlie is still the same good-natured fellow he always was, but in the summer even he got mad at his sister sometimes!
I don’t think that I ever told you about my day in Quyon with Lee and her friends – that is the place that has cheap materials. Well, I was to be at Lee’s at 9am and then we collected 3 more females, so there were 5 of us all together. It was the most beautiful fall day – sunny and just a little chill, but very nice and bright. All the other ladies were very nice, but they were all from Lee’s neighbourhood and knew each other well so I was a bit odd man out, but that didn’t matter. We arrived in Quyon soon after 10, to find nothing open – there are 2 shops, the original one belong into the old woman, and another belonging to her daughter, and apparently they just open when they feel like it. So we hung around, and there were 2 or 3 other carloads of people waiting too, and then we went and had a cup of coffee in a pokey little place, and finally about 11:30 the daughter opened her shop. It was just a little old house with 2 rooms but it had shelves around and tables all stacked with folded bits of materials. It was quite well arranged with cottons in one place, wools another etc. and loads of stuff all on top of each other, but you could tell from the moment you went in that the place was damp – it had that musty smell, and all the material smelled musty too but apparently she is getting a new shop down the street and I hope that is dryer poor woman! All the pieces were marked with the size and price and we poked around and looked and I got the cotton for my dress which I am sending you to see and a piece of dark red wool material to make Linda a winter dress and a piece of lining material to match as it is a bit itchy. Well after about an hour in there I was well and truly finished, but the others were still busy looking and putting back and changing their minds! However, we then heard the other shop was open, so some of us went there – WELL! This had been a shop with a shop window, but it hadn’t been cleaned for generations I’d say, and inside there was material stacked on waist high benches and underneath, practically up to the ceiling! There was a little wee passageway down the middle and if the old woman was standing in it, no one could get by! She was a sight – fat and pendulous, with a cigarette drooping from her mouth, and nagging at her old husband all the time, and after a while she heaved herself up onto a great mound of the materials and sat there like a horrid old hen on a nest! The whole place just gave me the willies – it was so messy and crummy, and you had to heave bits of material out from all these piles and poke around, and you felt that it must all be absolutely filthy, as I’m sure it could never be cleaned. I don’t know how much stuff was there, and some of it was probably good, but who was ever to find out? I wouldn’t have had the patience or inclination to stay long in there, but the others all rushed in with enthusiasm, so I looked around and in the end got another dress length of dark red material – not a wool, some synthetic material, but with a cosy feel, and then I saw a piece of cotton in a navy and pink pattern, so I got it for Mme. Gemusse who was busy cleaning my house for me while I was gadding!
Why I got all this dark red material was that Nan sent Lindy a pretty small dark red handbag for her birthday, and she had nothing that she could use it with, so I thought a dress to match would be nice for school in the winter. I wasn’t sure of the exact shade and in the end the wool is the better match, and the other which is more a cherry red I shall use myself. Now that my hair is getting greyer I find that I don’t look good in some colours that used to suit me – a plain brown or beige just don’t go with my hair, but I think a dark red should be OK and of course blues and greens are still fine. I need a winter coat this year, and I have no idea what colour to get. Anyway, to go back to our expedition, I finally could stand it no longer, so one of the other ladies and I went and got in the car, and about 2 o’clock the others appeared. There was no decent restaurant where we could get lunch, so we bought buns and cheese and cookies etc. at the grocery store and had a sort of picnic in the car, and even after that Lee and one of the others had to make another trip to the daughter’s shop, so that finally I got back about 3:30. It was quite fun, and obviously the other girls looked on it as a sort of day’s outing, but I think another time I wouldn’t want to spend so long there – the old woman’s shop is really kind of horrid!
I was telling some of my friends about the expedition and one of them told me of a new remnant shop which had opened at Orleans near where I used to go to the butcher, remember? It hadn’t been opened long, but she had got some nice material, so yesterday afternoon, Ruth Lockwood and I, in the pouring rain – thunder too! – set out and went to see what it was like. What a contrast! Nice clean neat little shop and a very pleasant woman – of course I don’t suppose there was one tenth of the material, but at least you could see what there was! I got something to put in your Christmas parcel for you and Auntie Muriel, which I think is pretty – in a way I feel it is like sending coals to Newcastle to send materials to you, but at least none of your friends will have bought the same material! Also if you now have a good dressmaker it does away with having to alter the ready-made dresses. By the way, I have all sorts of old patterns – would you like me to put them in a parcel sometime? Or aren’t they much use?
Last Friday the United Church had a Hat Show in our Church – it was a sort of joint effort, except that they arranged the hat business and we helped with the refreshments. It only cost .50¢ so it wasn’t expensive and there were about 8 or 10 girls and women from each church who modelled the hats. The woman who had the hat shop gave a commentary, and the girls walked around the room with the hats on and then put them on tables which were right down the middle of the room with mirrors on. There were hundreds of hats – felts, velours, velvets, feathers, material, even what they called winter straws, rain hats, fur hats and what have you. When the show was over the hats were for sale, and you could go and try them on and look at them all, which was great fun! There were some very pretty feather hats there in lovely colours, but I don’t know what my coat is going to be like so it was silly to think of getting one – anyway they were all so big on my head, they wobbled when I moved! Casey only had which really fitted and looked best on me was of course the most expensive hat there! It was a fur hat of black mink – only mink tails, which are the cheapest part but the hat was 26 dollars, and I wasn’t really tempted! It was a nice evening though and all your old cronies were there, Mrs. Davis and Mrs. James, all asking for you.
Piano tuner here – Lindy is taking piano cum singing lessons this year with an English lady, Mrs. Cass-Beggs!

I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to have even a few months of lessons with such a music scholar and teacher!

What do you think? The mailman just brought your letter of 28th Sept. so thank you very much. The new mail delivery does not make much difference to us – our mailbox was very convenient, but some of the people lower down in Rothwell Heights didn’t have boxes at their driveways, but hundreds of them all together at a crossroads and that must have been very hard in bad weather. You had a bad time with the Bishop’s jubilee and the flowers and brasses must have looked lovely, but what a pity that it was such a dreadful morning. However, at least it cleared up for the reception and I’m glad the stormy weather passed by. Our Harvest Thanksgiving is this Sunday so I will have to see what we have left in the garden for it – we still have lots of carrots and beetroot and some squash, and lots of lovely little fat pumpkins! They look so nice and chubby and are so easy to grow that I think they are very rewarding! Our actual Thanksgiving is the next weekend, and there is a holiday on the Monday, but I think we will have our Thanksgiving dinner on the Sunday and I will have our Czechoslovakian friends to dinner. (By the way only two Polduses – a young couple – early 30s – Joe and Eva!) Carman arrived last night and is staying till next week sometime as there is a Radio Astronomy Meeting in Ottawa, but it looks as if we won’t see much of him as there are meetings on Sat. and on Sun they all go up north to Algonquin Park where there is a big R – A set up. Mr. Trudeau, although we still like him very much, is being extremely mean to scientists – he’s on a big economy kick, and he has cancelled a big new telescope that was being built out in B.C. and another big project at Chalk River, the Canadian Atomic Energy place, so this is very sad for science in Canada.
Now I have to mention your bright idea about the three week trip to the W.I. but no matter how cheap it is, for the four of us it will be nearly $1000. And with Cec going to Australia we just can’t consider it. As I say, later on perhaps Linda will come, or Cec and I but definitely is out for all of us next summer – sorry! Much cheaper for you to come to us!
It is indeed amazing to think that it is a year since Uncle Fred took ill, but I also think it is amazing how he has persevered and managed to improve to the extent he has. I would think it would be dreadfully easy just to give in and do nothing and be a vegetable, but would need a lot of effort and hard work to go on trying with the caliper and trying to talk etc. Ena is certainly looking after him well now, but he looked after her well too. You don’t seem to have been reading very NICE books lately! I am reading a nonfiction called “Effie in Venice”– letters by Ruskin’s wife to her parents – he was peculiar and afterwards the marriage was annulled and later she married the artist Millais! Such on-goings!
Must stop – lots of love from us all-

August 29 1968

Having a cottage for a whole month seemed to inspire the Costains to invite everyone to visit! It also meant Cec had to go in to the Lab. some days in Ottawa, which meant he was available to transport the children’s friends up for short stays. They had lent their house to Sam and Sally Butcher for August, but presumably Cec slept there the week nights he was working. The Costain grandparents were also visiting from B.C., with Cec’s sister Merle and Dix Moor so they all came, and John Moor, the oldest son, came east with his family: Sharon, Steven and the new baby Jeff, and dropped in before going to Brantford. Having survived this onslaught, Cyn sat down to write to her mother towards the end of their month.

P.S. New Address. No More Box No.
49 Cedar Rd. Ottawa 9.

Christie Lake Thurs. 29th Aug.

Dearest Mummy,
Cec came back from Ottawa last week with a whole bundle of mail which was very exciting! Thank you so much for all your letters – they were from the 15th July up to 15th August – the last one telling that you had got the shoes. I am so glad that the latter were at least a partial success & hope that you will get a lot of wear from the two sandal- type. Maybe you can find someone who could wear the black ones a bit as they stretch quite quickly & then you might be able to use them. Lindy & I greatly enjoyed the letters about Alan’s wedding, particularly some of Monie’s dry, amusing comments.
1111 Great excitement! Saki arrived with a chipmunk she had caught! Lindy rushed out & grabbed her & the chipmunk scooted away under the porch! Remember Charlie & the “damned chipmunk” that bit him at Lake Bernard? 1111
When I got your letters I meant to sit down & answer them straight away, but life is so busy here, I can see it will have to wait till I get back home & get everyone out of the house! When Cec went to Ottawa last week on Wed. a.m. he took back Maureen & Allan Vallee, Linda and Charlie’s friends who had been with us since Sunday (when the Moors & Granny & Grandpa Costain left.) Then Cec came back out Thurs. afternoon with Chris Baird, Charlie’s friend & he stayed till this Monday. In between each lot I have to wash bedclothes etc. as I had to leave some in town for the Butcher’s too, but thank heaven there is a nice washing machine here. Also a freezer in the basement, which is a big help as shopping is quite a distance of course. There is a Lodge & Marina on the lake which sells bread & milk & then a small store about 5 miles away. For big grocery shopping & meat I go to Perth which is about 12 miles away so it takes quite a while.
When Cec came back from Ottawa he told me he had invited the Douglases out at the weekend & the Haynes (Linda’s friend Janet & her Mother & Father) & they were both coming on Sunday, so I prepared for quite a crowd, but Little Did I Know! I got 3 chickens to roast & thought of cooking them & having them cold, but decided I could have them all ready & just shove them in the oven & we’d have them hot. I made a Quiche Lorraine (cheese & ham pie) for lunch & baked two pie shells to make peach flan, so I thought I was well prepared. On the Sunday morning I was up at 9 a.m. (early for the cottage) & called Cec & the children & we had breakfast – at least Cec didn’t appear, but the rest of us did. Then we cleared away & about 10 I was just going to wash up (kitchen window looks onto the little driveway) went up drives a little red car – horrors! “Lindy, they’re here” I yell, thinking it is the Haynes – she rushes to get dressed & I dash out to find it isn’t the Haynes, but Cec’s technician Geoff & his wife Beati & their little boy! I didn’t even recognize them at first & Cec had completely forgotten to tell me they were coming! I didn’t tell them of course & went & woke Cec & it turned out that they were on their way to Cleveland to spend the holiday with Beati’s parents & Cec had invited them to stop for a swim & lunch. However, they had decided to come earlier, but while they were swimming I washed up, made coffee & tomato sandwiches, made custard & put in the bottom of the flans, then put peach halfs (fresh) on top & covered with Jello. They had lunch then & were just getting up to go when another car drove into the driveway & more people poured out and this was Lorne & Liz & Debbie & Cindy! Merle had said they might come for a night after visiting Liz’s family in Ottawa, but we had given them up by then so this was another big surprise! Well, they came in & the Geoffs said goodbye & left, & we had one spare room for Liz & Lorne, & Cindy & Debbie went in the extra bed in Linda’s room! After that the Haynes arrived, & we had Quiche Lorraine & all the things I could find for sandwiches & potato salad & soup & cookies for lunch. Then the Douglasses plus Andy came with Professor Pleva from Czechoslovakia, so for dinner we had 16! However the 3 chickens were fine & I had corn on the cob, & a big salad & rolls & the 2 peach pies. We had potato chips & a dip & Linda made some snacks beforehand with drinks, so everything went very well & everyone seemed very happy. It was a lovely day & everyone went down to the dock in the afternoon & the young people swam & the family at the other cottage has a big boat & water skis, so they had fun with them. Charlie can do quite well on the water skis now, but Lindy hasn’t tried.
Lorne & his family left after lunch on Monday – they are such a nice family, the little girls are so sweet & very good & Liz & Lorne are so nice with them. Cindy is 2 & is just a pet – friendly & sitting on everyone’s knee & making friends. Cec left with Chris for Ottawa at the same time, so Lindy & Charlie & I were suddenly very quiet. Cec came back the next evening & we leave on Sat. so our time is short. It has been cooler the last few days but lovely & sunny. Poor Cec has had such bad luck this month, he had a bad sinus infection at the beginning & still has a bit, then just after the Moors left he got a violent tummy flu (presumably from John’s little boy Steven) which is still hanging on, so he has not been able to really enjoy himself. It is such a pity. The last few evenings we have been teaching L & C to play bridge – nice to have a family four!
Must must stop and get lunch. Love to A. Muriel & lots to you from us all
Cyn. P.T.O.
Will write soon about L’s birthday & your cheque etc. when I get home. Hard to decide until we go to the stores.
Love C.

Postmarked in Perth, Ontario.

April 16 1968

Happy Birthday!

Box 330, R.R.1
Ottawa, Ontario.
16th April, 1968

Dearest Mummy,
Do you mind a letter typed in red? I knew the typewriter needed a new ribbon but Charlie has had it up in his room for weeks and now I find the black part of the ribbon looks as if the moths had been at it, it is so full of holes!
Thank you so much for your letter started on my birthday and for your Easter card. We have just had the most glorious Easter weekend we have ever had in Canada. As you know it is usually still so cold here and even if the snow has melted, the ground is still frozen and we don’t expect spring until about the middle of May, but this year it rained a lot in March and the snow melted and this weekend it was beautiful, with temperatures in the 70s and the grass turning green, and green shoots coming up everywhere. I had washed the porch last week and cleaned the windows, so we got out the garden chairs and were even sitting out under the big tree, although it has no leaves on it yet of course! When we went to Church on Easter Sunday we didn’t need coats (didn’t get a chance to wear my new one) and for once all the flowery Easter hats looked appropriate! Lindy was very industrious and did quite a lot of gardening and cleared most of the flowerbeds, and Cec even got some of the vegetable garden plowed, which was extraordinary as it is usually too wet for weeks after it has thawed. Charlie had quite a cold, but it didn’t stop him from playing baseball, football, horseshoes and going swimming every minute he could! It is still heavenly weather now and I am sitting typing on the porch, but of course we are all back at work again. Lindy is disgusted as it poured with rain during the week they had for Spring Holiday in March, and she says if we had had the holidays in the old way we’d have had all this nice weather! However, I really felt I needed that rest in March, and now we had a lovely weekend, and everyone feels more cheerful when the weather is nice. One thing, as soon as the weather became nice I got my hay fever again, and was sneezing and using Kleenex by the boat load, so yesterday morning I decided I would have to take a pill which I did. Lindy said, “But Mummy, you’ll fall asleep at Nursery School, but actually if I keep on my feet and I’m busy I don’t get sleepy, so I was fine all morning, and in the afternoon I had the car, and went all over town buying things for the nursery school – cookies and paste and goodness knows what – and then home, got dinner ready, washed up and then sat down to look at the paper, and bonk! – I was asleep. So uncomfortable too – I woke up after a while and took my glasses off, and said to Cec “I hate doing this – you should wake me up” and bonk! – I was asleep again. I struggled up at 11 o’clock and went to bed and slept all night without turning a hair. You wouldn’t think that one pill in the morning could do that to me, would you? But it does – I don’t feel a bit sleepy or dopey, and even when I sit down to read I don’t feel tired, but with no warning, I’m asleep! I took another one this morning, so I will have to try and keep busy tonight and not sit down!
Do you remember Edna Renaud? She must have been to some of my coffee parties sometime when you were here. She is English, blonde and not very tall – was married during the war I think. Anyway, she walked up from her house with her dog this afternoon and had a cup of tea with me. She belongs to a group which is trying to get a Children’s Hospital in Ottawa, and they have various things every now and then to raise money. This year they are getting their friends to do the work for them! They ask their friends to have a coffee party or tea party and collect one dollar from each guest for the hospital, and in a weak moment I said I wouldn’t mind having one. She has brought me special paper napkins etc.- called a ‘Hostess Kit’, so I will have to get busy and have it sometime I suppose. [It was built by the time I was teaching in the 70s- I substituted there when unemployed.]

Mrs. Barltrop is having her Golden Wedding this summer – June, I think – and I have promised to ice and decorate her cake for her, and also some of us are going to help Eve with the refreshments for the Open House she is having for her Mother and Father. Mrs. B has been in bed for nearly 2 months with her legs – she has very bad varicose veins and has had a few operations, and apparently if they break out they don’t heal properly unless she keeps them up all the time, so this is what had happened. However, Marjorie had a lunch the week before last with Mrs. B. and Eve and Ruth Lockwood and me, and this was the first time she had been out. She still has to rest a lot but is doing fine. She and Mr. B. had been going to England as a G.W. trip this summer, and the Dr. says she can still go but must take it quietly and rest each day, but her MOTHER of 95 has just fallen and broken her leg and is in hospital, so she is in a turmoil about this. Lindy and Charlie were astounded to hear that Mrs. Barltrop had a mother! [Added in handwriting] Later: Phone call from Eve & she is flying to England tomorrow as her G’mother is very ill & Mrs. B can’t go.
Do you remember someone else – Hilary Mackey who has the house behind us where Flora Wansbrough used to live? She is a widow, English and a bit peculiar we think! Anyway, since the Fall she has had a sister living with her from England, – she is older than Mrs. Mackey and is called Miss Titcum! She comes to our church and to the WA and of course we all kept getting her name muddled up and at home I called her little Mrs. Tittlemouse, so that we hardly dared call her anything, but it turns out that she is a retired Domestic Science Teacher, and when I told her that I was one once she became very pally and said that I was to call her Doris, which I find very difficult, as none of us like her very much. She is one of these English people who finds everything in England so much better than over here, and she has a kind of superior expression all the time as if there was a rather disagreeable smell! When she smiles she looks as if it was hurting her, and one of the Canadian girls said that she was the kind of Englishwoman who should have stayed at home! Poor thing – I am sure that she is lonely as Hilary is out at work all day, but she is really very hard to get along with. She reminds me of Mrs. Rothwell in that she is soppy about animals you know! She takes Hilary’s dog and another little one for walks every day and I usually meet her when I’m coming home from school across the fields. I met Becky Rothwell the other day, by the way, but I couldn’t remember the name of the lady whom you had met so I couldn’t ask her. Mrs. R. is in this home for elderly people, and Becky says is well, but doesn’t take much interest in things or people now. Do you remember Grace? Mrs. R.’s sister Mrs. Ward? She is older than Mrs. R. and is well over 90 but is just as spry as can be apparently.
I was amused at you and A. Muriel drinking my health on my birthday [April 3] in Tia Maria – we didn’t have some actually on my birthday, but at the weekend we went out to dinner and when we came home we had a glass of Tia Maria too. If you remember Cec had bursitis just then, so we didn’t go out to dinner on my birthday – I just hate making my own birthday cake, but it looked as if I wouldn’t get one if I didn’t make it myself, so I roasted a chicken and made a four layer cake with chocolate icing! By the weekend Cec had been to Dr. K. and was feeling better, but on the Friday it was Exhibition Night at the High School, and both Lindy and Charlie were involved so we had to go to that. Lindy’s class was putting on a play ‘Pyramis and Thisbe’ all in Latin, and Lindy was Wardrobe Mistress and we had been busy making Greek costumes etc. for weeks past, and also she was in a group of girls who did Israeli dances in the gym. Charlie was Quiz Master in a Math. quiz and helping in one of the Labs, so we had to go around and see them doing their stuff. The Latin play was screamingly funny – Lindy had told us it was, because although it is a tragedy on the lines of Romeo and Juliet, the male lead ranted and roared so much that everyone laughed, and the villain of the piece, a lion, was taken by Janek and Fredi, and they were a great success in a lion’s head and a yellow blanket!
And you probably don’t hear much about Canadian politics in the WI, but this was the weekend of the Liberal Convention to choose a new Liberal leader to take the place of Prime Minister Pearson who is retiring. Actually, at the same time the assassination of Martin Luther King happened in the U.S., so everyone was worried about that, but of course everyone in Canada was very interested in the Convention to find out who our new Prime Minister would be. It was fascinating to watch on TV and to hear the various men speak, and on the Sat. they had the final voting, so we couldn’t go out to dinner that night, but had to stay at home and watch with tense excitement. We are all very pro-Trudeau and were very impressed with his speeches and talks on the TV, so we were very excited and delighted when he won. He is very intelligent and most un-politician like, in that he never makes the tub-thumping kind of speeches full of clichés, but is very reasoned and logical. It will be most interesting to find out how he gets on. Anyway, we finally decided to go out to dinner on the Sunday, as the following week was Holy Week, and I felt that if we left it much longer I would never get my dinner out! We went to a place that we had heard served a Sunday Smorgasbord for the family, but it really wasn’t very nice! Linda and Charlie went with us and it was OK, but not a place we’ll ever go to again, so it was nice to have a Tia Maria when we came home!
I forgot to tell you what I got for my birthday – Cec gave me a pair of baby doll pyjamas, Charlie a new wallet which I needed badly, Lindy some brush-on eyeshadow (very glamorous) and a pair of darling little pink earrings. Then from Dottie I got hankies and from Nan a smart patent leather handbag in a kind of tan colour. I did thank you for your birthday parcel when it arrived, but I am afraid I must tell you that I was unlucky with the contents! The slip was too small for me – it must have been a very small 34, because I take a 34 slip all the time, but of course in a nylon jersey which stretches more. Anyway, it fits Lindy so I passed it on to her. The dress was pretty, but you know I really look awful in a straight shift dress – just a little square tub! I could get it on, but it was tight on the seat and much too big on the shoulders and bosom, and of course when I sat down it skinned way above my knees like all these tight skirts do. I felt sorry after you had gone to all the trouble of sending it, but I feel it is better to let you know the truth rather than being polite and telling white lies about it, so that you will remember another time that I am a PearShaped Hazell and not a straight up and down one! I wondered if any of my friends were the right size to wear it and thought of Pat Tomlinson, so on Monday Linda and I dropped in to see them and I gave it to her and she was just delighted. I feel that Pat was really a nice person to give it to, as we have always exchanged our daughters clothes – Joanne’s coming to Lindy and Lindy’s to Susan (that time is past now – they are all very much the same size) and Pat works hard and doesn’t have too much for herself.
Anyway, after that Lindy and I went to the new Shopping Centre, and I bought myself a pretty new Brunch Coat with some of your money – it is a pink and white striped material, a nice firm cotton and a tiny stripe, and has smocking around the neck and across the top of the pockets, so I am very pleased with it. I still have more than half of your cheque left so I think I will get a cotton dress as I don’t have many just now. I sent a lot of real old ones to you last Fall, and last year I got more things suitable for travelling and not for just the house and garden. I will let you know what I get.
I am filled with admiration for you making the Altar Frontal – I know that the other lady did the embroidery, but making it up was a big job and I am sure that it must have looked beautiful when you had it finished and on the altar for Easter. Our church was just packed at Easter – no 5:30 service like A. Muriel, but at 10:30. It is so nice to see some new families and the congregation growing bigger now that there is new building in the district. We were the faithful few for so long, and now to have to put extra chairs in at Easter and have even a few who are new coming every Sunday is a lovely change. Mr. Graham is keeping well and we had a joke with Marjorie. Apparently [Cyn and Linda would have been teaching Sunday School upstairs during the last half of the service, so would have missed the sermon] he preached a sermon a few Sundays ago where he lent over the pulpit very solemnly and said “Now I have a very serious question to ask you. WHAT am I going to wear at Easter?” and then went on to talk about the Easter Parade etc. Anyway, on Easter Sunday here was Marjorie wearing a new hat of white flowers and we said “How did you dare after Fr. Graham’s sermon and she said “Oh the funny thing is that I didn’t hear that sermon. When he was giving it I was at home sitting up in bed making the hat!”
I see that you and A. Muriel sent Caroline Bryan money for a wedding present. Jeannie [Cyn’s cousin] sent me an announcement and I meant to send something, but with Jean being away I left it, and now the wedding is on Sat. Perhaps we’ll send a cable and I can send a small present later. I wonder if Alan and Donna will have a big wedding? I think Marga would enjoy it, but probably not Bill! But it is up to the bride’s parents after all. [More Hazell descendants getting married- Caroline in England, Alan in New York.]

To answer the questions in your letter, Lindy was speaking against Ottawa becoming a Federal District in the Debate, but this was just the part she was given – not necessarily her convictions! Charlie got quite a good mark for his Mohamet paper, but was criticized for being too partial to him! He doesn’t like his history teacher at all and doesn’t get very good marks from her, but one thing he will probably have someone quite different next year. You were asking about Phyl Douglas’s mother – yes she is still alive, and Phyl goes to see her often. She is blind and deaf, poor dear, but still her mind is fine. Every now and then she has another heart attack and they think that this time she will go, but so far she has recovered. The Ganders came and had Easter dinner with us and it was nice to see them all again. I was talking to Lee about her sister Johnny – she is not at the Civic Hospital now but in a hospital where more or less incurables are. There doesn’t seem to be anything else that the Drs. can do for her and they can’t tell Lee what will happen or anything. They get her up in a wheelchair each day now but she still can’t help herself much – she can lift her arms a little and turn her head a bit but that is all. Strangely enough Lee says she will do certain things Lee tells her – such as “Put this on the bed Johnny”, but she can’t get her to nod for yes, or shake for no, or even squeeze her hand if she understands. They got her a small radio and she appears to love to listen to music, but she can’t turn it on or off herself, and Lee says that after 4 in the afternoon there is very little care and very few nurses. It is most heartrending and distressing, and poor Lee has become so careworn this winter. You were asking about Graham Smith – we heard that he and his family had left Ottawa and gone to Hamilton where her family lives. Then at Christmas we got a card from them with that postmark, but no address so I hope that he is doing better there, poor fellow.
I must stop now as it is 11 o’clock and I have managed to keep awake all evening, by not sitting down on the sofa! But just before I go I must tell you that on Sat. your grandson is setting out to walk 40 miles – or at least so many of the 40 as he can! I will enclose a cutting to tell you about it and I will let you know how the poor footsore boy feels and how he makes out. Cec is giving him 50¢ a mile and I am giving him 25¢ and Lindy 10¢ and he has a few other sponsors, so I hope he makes out all right.

Hello to Doris and Luenda from us all. How is your dear little white pussy? Our Saki is fine and sweet and fit, but did I tell you that our poor little Noli died? [The hamster.] He got sick apparently and couldn’t run on his wheel and then he just slept and slept until he died one night, poor little fellow.
Much love from us all to Auntie Muriel and please thank her for me for her birthday card. Lots of love to you from Lindy, Charlie and Cec and

Marjorie and Cyn at the Golden Wedding- no cake showing!

This April letter tells Carol about the activities of the Costain family in the spring of 1968, and so combined with the scrapbook, enables me to cover the summer too. Although just mentioned in passing, Cyn gives an idea of the children’s involvement in activities that would later become part of their adult lives. Linda belonged to the Debating Club- even in a school of 2000, limited appeal led to a membership of about 10 students- (not that she grew into a speech-making politician, but I’m fairly sure any teacher can address a crowd at the drop of a hat), and enjoyed helping with amateur plays. Charlie participated in the Miles for Millions fundraiser each year from this point on, which foreshadowed his adult marathons and biking tours. The whole family was interested in the political change in Canada, and the events of 1968 were world-shaking enough to ensure that the Costain teens would keep an eye on current events for the rest of their lives. The scrapbook shows pictures of the Golden Wedding the Women’s Auxiliary of the church were helping to celebrate- but not a photo of the cake that Cyn decorated for it!- and the announcements of a Hazell wedding and a new Costain cousin, Jeff Moor.

The children both were promoted at the end of June, Charlie to Grade 12 and Linda to her final year of high school, Grade 13. Cyn’s year of working at the Nursery School was over, although she would remain an organizer, and available for substitute teaching if needed. And plans were made for a cottage rental for the month of August, with enough room for teen friends or visiting family.

February 10 1968

This letter from Carol Ewing (Grannie) to Linda, now 16 years old in Grade 12, seems to have accompanied the return of the Travel Diary which had taken her a few months after the summer trip to be completed and sent out to Grannie, with a plea for its return as a memento. In the letter, Carol mentions the younger generation of Hazells in St Vincent- older than Linda and at a different stage of life, but also leading what seemed to her (Linda) an exotic existence with parties, dancing and cars.
[Recap of relationships in St. Vincent: Alex and Peggy Hughes, Cyn’s cousin and Carol’s niece, had the party for their daughter Margaret. Patrick is the adult son, Perry another, quite a bit younger. Milly and Ford are the visiting New York cousins of Peggy and Cyn’s generation, but older. Uncle Fred is Carol’s brother, Peggy’s father, and has been ill. Auntie Moo (Muriel) is the oldest Hazell sister, and Carol lives with her.]

Feb 10th 68.

Dearest Lindy,
I have had this envelope addressed to you for some time- p.c.s which I thought you might like, to add to your collection, & I meant to write right away, then realized my writing pad was finished, & all I had was that “Shocking” little pad that you did not approve of!!
I did enjoy your prolonged letter so much, (mine will be very old by the time you get it as it’s going by sea) (- was begun on 5th Nov. – – – after Xmas – – New Year.) You must soon repeat it, & then perhaps I’ll get one after Easter, eh? It’s a shame to tease you! when I know quite well it’s not easy when you have to write essays of 2000 words or more – as well as lots of other things. I hope you did well with Nelson – did you mention his lady friend Emma? You say they are making Easter holiday static – tell me what date it’s to be? I hope it means you will get a longer break.
I’m afraid I misled you about Margaret, & her party was not so huge as I said, Peggy told me afterwards 36 – & some of them were Peg’s younger married friends, & it seems after supper & 11 p.m. they all went & danced at the Aqua Club – that’s a wild New Year’s Eve party where everyone kisses everyone, when ‘Big Ben’ strikes 12 – & there are wild whistles & yells & kisses galore! I have been to one or two of them, & it’s amusing – as of course, one tries to dodge the folk you don’t appreciate kissing you!! Margie is really quite a nice girl, rather silent & reserved – so is Patrick – but Mill & Ford who had heard this about him, when they went to lunch with them last Saturday, were surprised to find him quite chatty, so when Pegs came home, Mill said to her they found Patrick quite nice & friendly. Pegs said – “that was because he had had a few drinks at the club – otherwise he wouldn’t have opened his mouth”! Not a very good reputation, is it? As I have told Cyn, Margie’s latest is that she has dashed off & bought a small 2ndhand car – it’s a bright sky blue – & looks quite new. She took me out in it to ‘Grand View’ on her way home on Thurs– & it seemed very nice – but we are amused at them being a 4 car family – only Perry hasn’t!
What a lovely cake Fanny’s sister made for you all, is she still with the Blachuts or did it come all the way from Switzerland?
I am glad to tell you Uncle Fred is progressing slowly- he goes drives in his car now, & takes a great interest in the cricket matches which are going on right now on radio & TV – G.B. versus W.I. All the Hughes are going to Barbados next week to see the next big test match – & incidentally poor Perry is going to have his tonsils out – they’ll be away 3 weeks.
Since the New Year we have been having quite a number of Tourist Cruisers coming here for the day – & you see lots of odd looking people about the town! – aren’t I rude? My friends the Carnegie’s in Newcastle wrote telling me some friends of theirs were coming on “M.V. Botany” on 27th Jan. & it w’d be nice if we could meet– but believe it or not they never mentioned the peoples’ name, & anyway I never got their letter until 1st Feb. after the ship had come and gone! Mr. C. said he had given them my address – but evidently they couldn’t find me – or didn’t want to perhaps – not knowing them – I am not sorry!!
Now Honey Girl I’ll end this scrawl & beg you to excuse it – Auntie Moo sends love & is full of remorse that she forgot to say thank you for her shower cap when writing – Here’s good wishes for High marks this term. Much love from Grannie. Love to all 4. XXXX.

Stamp showing the crater in the middle of the volcano at that time: next eruption 11 years later…

November 1967 to February 1968

From this point on, the letters preserved are sporadic, with 2 to 6 month gaps. The scrapbooks, however, provide a record of events in the family, and I will use them to link up the letters.

After the success of their trip to the UK, the Costains settled back into normal life in Ottawa. Cec returned to work, the teenagers returned to school, and Cyn prepared for and entered working life again, even if only temporarily, at the new Nursery School. Cec travelled for conferences and Cyn audited classes, and Linda and Charlie, now senior students in high school, became involved in various extra-curricular activities that suited them.

In November, the Centennial project that Cec had been involved with, the Science Museum, had its official opening. It was an exciting place, with interactive exhibits designed to appeal to the public, especially children. One exhibit that has lasted over 50 years is the Crazy Kitchen, tilted to confuse the senses and alter perceptions. (Fifteen years after this opening, Linda’s future stepsons enjoyed the kitchen and then climbed all over the trains in their outside exhibit. In this century, during the pandemic, the museum took advantage of the closing to update, refurbish, upgrade and expand- Cec would have approved.)

At Christmas, there were adult parties at home, then the Costains went down to Brantford to spend the holiday with their favourite relatives, the Moors, who now had adorable grandchildren as a draw. Cyn’s scrapbook shows the international greetings that came at Christmas, new photos of friends’ children and grandchildren, and includes a card from the old days from Uncle Harry Costain out in Calgary.

In the New Year, Cyn’s scrapbook celebrates a teen party, then the fact that as a Nursery School teacher she gets Valentines!

A booklet shows Gloucester High School’s summary of growth since its opening in 1963. The Centennial project of an adjoining community swimming pool would be available for the next school year, Linda’s Grade 13. The education system in Ontario meant that students in the 5 year Arts and Science Academic Program, preparing for University, stayed for a 5th year while all those completing 4 years, Grade 12, graduated. (The commencement ceremony for both 4 and 5 year graduates was held the following November, so in the middle of Grade 13, the students still at school celebrated with those out in the world- and looked forward to a second celebration the following year when they would return from their universities to party and get their Grade 13 diploma.)