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.)
I’m not going to tell you about our stay in London and in Cambridge in great detail. We did the things everyone else does in London and you know Cambridge yourself. And another thing I’m running out of space.
However, in brief: In London we went to Buckingham Palace on Sunday. Mummy and I went to the National Portrait Gallery, and I have many lovely postcards of the portraits – including my lovely much maligned Richard the III. Have you read Josephine Tey’s ‘Daughter of Time?’ Concerning him, it is my Bible.
I bought a mint green and white mini dress in London and stacks of books. I bought a book (one of Jane Duncan’s I like her, do you read Jane Duncan) and eyeshadow (she’s mad about it) and a mood pen for my friend Janet, and leg paint!!! and a book and a necklace (oak leaf) for my friend Joanne. As well as little things for various other friends. We went to “Hello Dolly” at the Drury Lane Theatre with Agnes & Mrs. Herzberg and went to the Palladium to see Ken Dodd (I was shocked!)
We had dinner in a lovely “Dickens” restaurant – marvellous atmosphere. I love London.
I love Cambridge too. The Sutherlands were so nice to us! We were shown all around Emmanuel by the Master himself!
Auntie Gunborg gave me some birthday money and I got four more books. We shopped a bit- (Charlie got a deerstalker!) (He looks priceless in it!) We sightsaw, I want to come back. I get “home”sick when I think of England. I had a marvelous, wonderful holiday. Goodbye, Grannie Love Linda.
On reading this Travel Diary over, I feel I should explain a little about my personal reaction to England and Scotland. We had been brought up reading English books- Beatrix Potter, A.A.Milne (family story, baby Linda at the age of 18 months, got the point when her Daddy was reading about Pooh knocking on Rabbit’s door and being told that there was no one at home, and laughed, thus impressing her father with her accuity…), Wind in the Willows, the William books, Robin Hood legends, Narnia, Noel Streatfield, and so on. Yes, I read American books too- 19th century Alcott, Coolidge, and series like Nancy Drew, and Sue Barton: Nurse, but I liked ‘Jean Tours a Hospital’ and the rest just as much and enjoyed the contrast between the hospital cultures (dated though they were). My favourite series came through my mother’s keeping of the first three of Elinor M.Brent Dyer’s Chalet School books from her childhood, and I added to them whenever I could. (I now have them all. Yay internet.) The 15 year-old bookworm writing the travel diary had read countless teen historical novels- Hilda Lewis, Cynthia Harnett, Geoffrey Trease, and gone on to read her parent’s adult books set in England, Agatha Christie, Dornford Yates, Maurice Walsh, C.S.Forester, Georgette Heyer; and in Scotland, O. Douglas (Anna Buchan, sister of Canada’s wartime Governor General) and Jane Duncan’s ‘My Friend…’ series, and in doing so absorbed all the lore of the countryside- without ever having seen a bluebell (let alone a bluebell wood) or heather, or lavender growing, or a stile to cross a fence, or, in fact , a hedge- yes, we had one separating our lawn from the neighbours’ but it was nothing like an English roadside hedge! So while we visited friends, Linda dug around in their bookcases, and when we went sightseeing she was recognizing and enjoying things she had read about, and connecting with the history she had learned.
On Saturday we left Canterbury for London, left luggage, dropped off car and saw Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton in Taming of the Shrew – lovely. We took the sleeper up to Glasgow – and hardly a wink of sleep did I get it, though my family did better – and grabbed our hired car and headed off for Kelvin & Mary Tyler’s for lunch. This visit was rather a farce – we had expected to have fun with their two little girls but they were at their grandparents so Charlie & I just sat.
In the afternoon we went up to Loch Lomond and stayed the night at Luss. It is a village which is very pretty but too “ye olde worlde picturesque cottagee”– perhaps this impression came because large number of trippers but I felt that they had gardens for effect rather than enjoyment.
There was a nice little church there but we felt that we couldn’t just march in like cathedrals so we didn’t see the inside. The hotel was crowded & noisy. Charlie & I wanted to walk on the hills around & Daddy came with us. Just as we had got away from civilization and the path began to be exciting he got tired and we had to take him home. He said it was too dangerous for us to go on without him! He, who was puffing & slipping while we ran, was protection but us alone would have been danger! I went to bed in a temper – the hills (I can’t call the mountains really) are really beautiful.
On Monday we went up through the Trossachs. I didn’t envy Sandy his Pennine Way walking tour, but I would love to tramp up there, I saw heather close, both kinds and I approve. We walked along Loch Katrine and threw pennies in to come back. We went on to Edinburgh. And the Firth of Fourth that I’ve so often read about. On the way we saw the Wallace Memorial on a hill against the sky and here in Edinburgh there is another of the same type to Scott. It embodies for me the statement in O. Douglas’s ‘The Setons’ — “We have all of us, we Scots, a queer daftness in our blood. We pretend to be dour and cautious, but the fact is that at heart we are the most emotional and sentimental people on earth.” I am getting horribly sentimental myself, I hope you like it. Paper lures me on sometimes. I find we have no picture of either memorial- Bother ! – Yes I do, I found one. Will stick it in. LC
In the Shetland Shop I bought a beautiful dull gold kilt & sweater (10 £). All my friends admired it greatly. Kilts are all the fashion. We saw over Edinburgh Castle – sweet tiny chapel, walked down the Royal Mile to Hollyrood but Daddy got angry at the guide and stalked out, leaving us to trail out behind miserable but obedient. What it is to be ruled by an autocrat! We got on the train and went to Newcastle. We had tea at the Sheedy’s. Bobby & Patrick were very nice. Old Mrs. Sheedy made a great fuss of me, she said she didn’t have a granddaughter. Aren’t you lucky? Then we went to the Coopers and I had a lovely time with the three little boys. Then we went to Pam & Sam Fay’s for dinner. We got on the train and went to London. On the train we saw Durham Castle lit up – lovely.
It’s Tibb’s Eve in Newfoundland and here on the opposite coast it is cold with icy roads and fresh snow. Time for another look at Linda’s favourite sight in the summer of 1967 and maybe a Regency romance by the fire!
Then in the Victorian era, about forty years later:
And the twentieth century take on it, which Linda loved:
It is now Thursday 20th of July, this year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred & sixty seven. Happy Centennial! We went on to Salisbury and saw the cathedral which is lovely and I found the tomb of a knight, the son of Fair Rosamond & Henry II, William, known as Long-Espée, Earl of Salisbury. Do you know Fair Rosamond’s story? But Queen Eleanor wasn’t nasty.
In the afternoon we went to see Nelson’s ship the Victory which Charlie loved but which I think is overrated and give me the Duke of Wellington any day. In a museum there, there were figureheads and I never was so disappointed in my life, I didn’t know figureheads were like that – crudely carved and garish and UGLY! Oh!!!
However, Brighton quite made up for it and Stonehenge because at Brighton we saw the Royal Pavilion built by the Prince Regent, later George IV as a summer place. It is perfect – marvellous – ludicrous – fantastic – overwhelming – stupendous. Impossible to describe. It is Indian outside – with a million Taj Mahal domes, and mad Chinese inside – priceless – I will send you a couple of postcards but you must send them back, they are part of my collection. Mummy & I absolutely loved it.
Then we went to Canterbury and saw the cathedral in the evening.
We saw the spot where Thomas à Beckett had been killed but the shrine had been destroyed by Henry VIII of cursed memory and some fool nobleman had his memorial thing with a bust of himself just above on the wall so there was just the floor & 3 square ft. of wall.
We had tea at the Mitre in Oxford and had gorgeous chocolate eclairs, I had three. We took a walk through Oxford and bought some books but you can’t see much if you don’t know anybody. We spent the night at ‘The Hare and Hounds’ a very nice place, would have liked to stay longer, and went on to Bath. We saw the terraces of Regency houses and went into the Roman Baths. We had lunch in the Pump Room and I got a sweet little replica of a Roman pot 3 inches high & fat. It is silvery with red dots in a pattern, little bumps I mean, and the inside is brown glaze. Sweet. Charlie got a little replica of a silver penny like “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s… and that will be handy in Sunday School class.
We went onto Wells and met Ruth who is nice & Richard and Michael and the dog – all three very nice & friendly and Dr. Stainthorpe whom I am sorry for. Mummy & I think it was a great mistake for him to come and live with them, it is not a happy arrangement. Ruth & the boy are irritated by him and show it (rather like you & me & Mummy in a modified way to our shame, but we love you and I didn’t see any sign of them!) and poor ‘Grandpa’ has a hard time of it, with nothing to do & no friends. You should invite him out to St Vincent for a long holiday!
Ruth & the boy showed us the cathedral (I think we would have seen more, and taken in more on our own) (ungrateful me) and it is lovely – the squarish front with the figures of the saints & kings and queens reflected in the sunlight. However, they showed us Vicars Hall, a 14th century dining hall set with pewter plates etc. which we couldn’t have ordinarily seen. From the window we had a beautiful view of the oldest Street, intact, in Europe – Vicar’s Close. I hope you have seen it, it was lovely with walled gardens in the sunset but I can’t describe it. At tea Peter Haynes came in and I liked him very much but he just shook hands & kissed (they do it an awful lot in England) us (Mummy & me that is) and then dashed upstairs & changed into clerical garb and dashed off after shaking hands through the window. He had a meeting, he seemed awfully busy.
We then left & went off to Amesbury – not very nice – lots of traffic past the hotel. On the way we came upon Stonehenge. It just rose up out of the ground before us. However I was disappointed in it. I sent you a reconstruction version on a p.c. I think but actually it’s very untidy, all lying about, and since the historians have discarded the theory that the Druids built it, they don’t have a theory – it’s just there- something to do with religion and before the Druids but what, they don’t know – unsatisfactory. It is nice to think we are on our own now – meals in people’s houses tried me but I tried to be good.
These are postcards from Cyn and Linda from the holiday in England, sent to Carol a week after Cyn’s letter to her mother. Carol seems to have been on holiday herself, visiting the Otway relatives in Trinidad and Tobago, and the cards were forwarded, with Linda’s second one trimmed so the top and bottom of the message is missing, and the stamps removed, which may account for the water damage that erased a few words.
Long black-and-white postcard showing Warwick Castle from the Bridge. Addressed to Mrs C. Ewing. 19th July 1967 Have finished visiting and have now started our travels. The weather is absolutely wonderful and in Stratford we melted. Saw “All’s well that ends well” at the theatre. Nice lunch with Jean, Peter and Patsy yesterday & short view of Oxford. On to Bath and Wells today. Love Cyn.
Colour postcard of Holbien’s Henry VIII Portrait. Addressed to Mrs. C. Ewing.
1. Dearest Grannie, I feel so ashamed that I haven’t written before, but remember I am writing that journal for you. At the moment it isn’t up-to-date but it will be when I send it. This postcard I got at Warwick Castle when we stopped there on the way to Stratford. It was lovely, full of portraits & lovely tapestries. At Stratford we saw All’s Well that Ends Well. Cont’d Part one Only
Colour postcard showing drawing of a re-creation of Stonehenge. Address washed out.
Presumably this one started with a #2 since it seems to have continued the discussion of Stratford, but the first and last lines are missing, and other words washed out. … much. We much prefer our own Stratford, the theatre here is very ugly with no gardens while ours in Ontario is lovely. This reconstruction of Stonehenge is much more impressive than the real thing, I’m afraid. I was sadly disappointed in it. The stones were smaller than I had imagined and the car park …. … . We are having lovely weather, hope you are enjoying…
The thing about Expo was the stunning architecture. Now all that I remember is Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome that was the United States’ Pavilion (that I’m pretty sure we did not go in, since we skipped anything with a long lineup) because of its connection with Harry Kroto’s Carbon 60 Nobel Prize, but it was not the only flashy, unusual, or frankly weird building- they were all like that, trying hard and amazing. Inside they were educational marketing pitches for their country/province/state/nation/organization/or theme: 90 in all, and they had merchandise too of course, restaurants, and shows leaning heavily on exciting technology.
Now that I’ve read these letters, I know that Cyn must have remembered her visit to the New York World’s Fair in 1939 but I certainly don’t remember her making any comparisons at the time- I was too busy buying a real koala bear fur postcard- yes, repulsive, but very soft to stroke. I never sent that postcard, but Grannie saved a couple showing the Canadian Pavilion and the Ontario one. The front of the Expo 67 one has an arrow pointing to the minute people around the edge of the inverted pyramid and saying: This is them!
On the other side it is addressed to Mrs Carol Ewing and the stamp is franked with a (dateless) Expo logo showing it was mailed on site, and it reads:
Dear Grannie, As you see we are at Expo. It is really fabulous! Charlie and Mummy climbed to the top of the triangle and says it sways! You owe me a letter. Love Linda.
Cyn’s scrapbook shows the Ontario Pavilion, the most visited (but perhaps not by us, no swag) U.S.S.R. Pavilion at the bottom, and mementos from the France and Taiwanese pavilions, which we obviously went to.
It seems strange that we only spent one day there, when Canadians from much further away travelled to explore for several days, but our English trip was the Costain priority. My brother remembers a school trip to Expo as well, featuring big crowds and overwhelming hugeness, but I’m pretty sure the rest of us only spent one day there. The Centennial awareness however, pervaded the whole year- especially July 1, 1967, Canada’s 100th birthday.
As I have said earlier, Gloucester High School had a pretty diverse population compared to other schools in the area, with students from both rural and suburban backgrounds, both French and English, with some students going out to work after 2 years, others preparing for jobs in their fields after Grade 12, and more, like Linda and Charlie, aiming for university after Grade 13. It had a reputation as one of the most liberal (permissive) schools in the area- it certainly was one of the newest. A few controversial issues made the Ottawa newspapers in 1967, and were also discussed in the school newspaper, which was one of those issues!
The student leaders came from the academic group- they were there for five years- and were mostly English-speaking — and as the school grew, various initiatives developed in this era of student involvement. In the Centennial year a school newspaper called ‘The Courier’ was started by a student, Henry Makow, who had had an syndicated advice column in one of the Ottawa papers when he was younger- advice by a kid about kids- and who used his experience to produce a weekly professional 4-page newspaper that covered school activities and interests, with news, features, sports, editorials, and ads from local businesses, with bylines of the reporters under the headlines. (This, of course, is why I saved a dozen copies of the paper- either featuring the byline ‘Linda Costain’, or a cut-out gap in the page of an article written by me interesting enough to send to Grannie in one of Cyn’s letters!)
The 60s were a time of youth protests- 1968 was coming- and in the previous school year, students had been suspended for having long hair (boys) or short skirts (girls). The front page of the first newspaper has an article on a Grade 11 Physics class conducting an experiment to see how high above the knee the skirts of the girls in the class were- no doubt ammunition for the headline article which explained about the formation of the Dress Court designed to have the student committee create rules about student dress, and then deal with cases brought before them. (The second issue discusses the first cases brought before the court, of 2 boys whose hair was too long… The third reports that the Dress Committee is possibly unconstitutional, the fourth has an editorial about it- possibly the administration supported this court to get out of having to handle the issue!)
But articles cover things of concern such as alcohol, teen marriage, and glue-sniffing, as well as news about student government, car and bus accidents, fashion, and the possibility of driver education.
The back page was devoted to Sports and the generally sad performances of the school sports teams: Headline, October 8, 1966: ‘Dreary Day, Dreary Game’. To be fair, we were a new school, football certainly wasn’t as important in Canadian high schools as in America, but our basketball and volleyball teams did seem to get beaten regularly in the first term as well, although later in the year wins were recorded. Boys soccer, which hardly seemed to exist in Canada then, was more successful for Gloucester: in spite of having to lend the opposing school 2 valuable players since “Rideau had an inadequate number”, Gloucester shut out the other school 3-0 and were rewarded with pizzas made by the Home Ec. class. However, the sports reporters (who all played various games as well as reporting on them) castigated the rest of the school for lack of participation in intramural noon activities- a thing that must have become more difficult when the student population doubled within the next 2 years, and the lunchtime periods had to be staggered.
As the school year went on, other school activities were lauded in the school newspaper- the hosting of a mobile Blood Donor Clinic, the Debate Tourney in a nearby town, the collection of $1000 worth of non-perishable food for the Christmas hampers, the Winter Carnival week at the end of January (toboggan races at noon Tuesday, biggest snowball competition Thursday, sleigh ride Friday evening, and a Polynesian dance Saturday night, presumably to erase the chilly impression the snowy activities made!) The participation of the school team on the quiz show ‘Reach For the Top’ was covered, and the exciting news reported that the Gloucester Township’s Centennial Project of a swimming pool next to the school would be available for classes the following year. The publication of a Theatre Extra! edition in February when the school’s production of ‘A Man For All Seasons’ was adjudicated for the city drama festival shared both praise and critical comments; and various successful fund-raising events were described through the year – car washes, endurance efforts, and a weekend work day in April, when students could be hired for any task in home and garden- a disgusting porridge pot remains in my mind from when my partner and I were sent to a local home to wash dishes, windows, and floors in a spring-cleaning spree.
The school newspaper editorials addressed concerns of the day- which also popped up in the Ottawa newspapers, the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Journal- the privileges allowed the Grade 13 students- a lounge to relax in, freedom to leave the school grounds, skip classes, miss school days- and possibly to be extended to Honour Students; 2 editorials written by Henry Makow, the child of immigrant parents, on the effect of war, past and present (and the Vietnam War was on the minds of teens in the 60s, even though male Canadians didn’t have the draft hanging over them)- ‘The World We Inherit’ by ‘The World We Hand On: What Youth Can Do’; which were followed by a guest editorial written by a French Grade 12 student about the discrimination between the English-speaking and French-speaking students, who suggested the students start improving the world they lived in right there in G.H.S. (This prejudice in the school between the English and French students is what I remember most clearly about Gloucester. We had marvellous teachers of French, who exposed us to the music of Quebec and the culture of French literature even though our success at speaking the language was not that great; we had classmates with whom we shared our work and culture (swear words included), but the division was palpable.) At least the issues were raised in the newspaper, if not resolved.
Of course one bit of news in the January 13, 1967 issue of ‘The Courier’ was destined to attract attention: students wanted to buy a subscription to the magazine ‘Playboy’ for the school library. That was quickly picked up by the local papers and discussed at the higher levels of the education system, although the decision on whether to allow it seemed to being left to the school principal- and yeah, I don’t remember what happened…
The regular demands of the school year carried on: classes, homework, written exams three times a year, and the marks that resulted. Linda and Charlie and their friends participated in what interested them, bought ice cream sandwiches in the cafeteria to augment their bag lunches, and did well in classes, being promoted in June to Grades 11 and 12.
But the focus of the Centennial year was Expo 67 in Canada, and for the Costains, their trip to England. It would be an exciting summer, now that the school year was over.
The rest of 1966 carried on as usual, but the atmosphere in Canada was one of simmering anticipation- the next year would be one hundred years since Canada’s Confederation as a country separate from England, and the whole country- townships, villages, towns, cities, provinces and the federal government- were preparing Centennial projects to commemorate the occasion. There was a catchy song in both official languages playing all over- “Ca-Na-Da, (one little, two little, three Canadians) notre pays! Ca-na-da- (now we are 20 million) we love thee…” – or something like that. And to make sure that Canada was on the map, the latest world’s fair, called Expo 67, would be taking place in Montreal. Building was happening everywhere!
The Costains would be going to Expo, since Ottawa was near enough for a day trip, and were involved in various local events, but their project for the centenary was different. After celebrating Canada’s birthday, they were going as a family to England: the first time in 18 years that Cyn would be back, and able to see the friends that she had written to all those years. So work and school life continued with an added edge of planning, saving, and expectation.