November 13 1950

First page had typewritten second page on the back- rest hand written- hard to read!

Monday. 13th November.

Dearest Mummy,

Was so glad to get your letter last week & to know that you had got the letter with the typed forms & coloured pictures & so on- also my Air Mail letter. I saw our Mailman on Sat. (your letter came on Thurs.) & he was begging for some St Vincent stamps, so your letters keep me very popular with the postmen!

The last time I wrote I was going to go with Dawn and Edie to the pictures & it was raining – the buses here are once an hour in the evenings, so I set out to walk, all bundled up in raincoat & hood & boots, but by the time I got there I was dripping all over! However, the picture was quite good – it was called “All About Eve” & got very good criticisms & the other girls thought it was wonderful, but I didn’t rave! The dialogue was good, & Bette Davis was amusing with her wisecracks, but looked awful! I took a taxi home as it was still raining, so I told Cec I’d had a very expensive evening out of my pocket money – he usually pays for pictures out of his pocket money!

Cec’s Seminar finally came off on Thursday afternoon (after staying up till 5 a.m. on Wed. night) & he came home very pleased as it had gone so well. Dr. Sutherland was very pleased with it & some of the other Profs had too & they had all been interested & asked questions & discussed things afterwards, so after all his hard work it was nice to feel rewarded. Since then he has been relaxing a bit, but he’s starting in to toil again today he says.

On Friday evening we went & shopped for our groceries, and I made my Christmas shopping list and we planned out a great day of action for Saturday! We got the Laundry ready to take to the Laundrymat- wrote checks for the Electric Co. & Laundry that we owed- Cec took out the typewriter to take down to get it cleaned & I took my Christmas shopping list. Our first stop at the Laundrymat was a little disheartening, as it was crowded and we had to wait for half an hour or more, however, we finally got it in and walked the rest of the distance into town. There, we headed for the Bank – and what do you think? It was closed for November 11. It is a legal holiday here, and of course we didn’t know. We were so frustrated! I couldn’t buy any presents of course, and it means that I won’t be able to get any till next Saturday, so my presents will be late in getting off, but I can’t do anything else. Also to add to our troubles, the places where we were going to pay our bills were closed too, and the man who was to do the typewriter was out! Anyway, we left the typewriter, and had a cup of coffee to weep into, and then went home for lunch. I was ever so annoyed.

In the afternoon I cleaned the flat, and Dr. S. & Anne called to leave their bicycles on the way to the Football Game. Gunborg is away till tonight so we had asked Gordon if he would like to come and have a game of bridge with us on the Sat. evening, as he plays and Gunborg isn’t keen, and he said that he would like to very much. So another thing that frustrated us all day Sat. was that we spent the day ringing up Al MacNamara to ask him to come and make a fourth and we never managed to get him yet! After the football game Anne and Gordon came in and had tea and hot scones, and Gordon said that he had some shopping to do, and would call for us in the car when he’d gone home on his bicycle, as we were getting ready to go up and get our laundry, so we waited and he was quite a little while – and guess what? It was just after six when we got there, and the place was closed, and we didn’t get our laundry either! Wasn’t that a day? However, Gordon came in the evening anyway, and we played cut-throat bridge, and all had a good time, so it ended all right!

I meant to do so much over the weekend of course in the way of writing letters, but ended up by getting none done. I had the rest of the washing to do, and what with our late rising and the meals and general chores, I wasn’t finished until after dinner in the evening and then in a moment of weakness I picked up “Florence Nightingale” which was our last Book Club from Dottie, which came sometime ago. Cec had read it, and I had read a little at the beginning, so I began to look at it again and ended by reading all evening. It is a biography written by a woman Cecil Woodham-Smith, I think, and it’s very fascinating. I had no idea that Florence was such a weird person, and that she had done such a little actual nursing. In some ways I kept thinking of Miss Lefroy, but she isn’t as peculiar as Florence was. I was very sorry to hear of poor Miss Lefroy’s troubles and the bad time she has been having. I do hope that she is able to get a good couple downstairs, and that she is free of domestic worries for a while. By the way, when I sent her birthday card I had forgotten that Chris’s birthday was so close, and didn’t say anything about her except to send my love – however! I thought that for their Christmas I would send a fruitcake like Barbara Kristin used to send me – even if they don’t like it much themselves, it will do for their tea parties! The only other thing I could think of was a bottle of whiskey for Chris, and that is a bit expensive! Talking of whiskey – on Saturday, after our bank catastrophe, we suddenly thought that we had Gordon coming in the evening, and we had nothing to drink. They always give us something, so we thought we should do our best, so we went home and opened my two piggy banks, and the cigarette box where we keep the money for the newspaper boy, and scratched together enough for a little bottle of whiskey and a bottle of ginger ale! We put in We.O.U.’s and will pay them back!

It is Tuesday now, and I am writing this at lunch time again. Cec got some money yesterday, and bought our bathroom scales with our lunch money, and so I weighed myself and am 125 lbs. and Cec is 201 lbs. Yesterday was the first day of my diet, and I was very good- I am leaving out all sugar and milk out of tea and coffee, and it tastes horrid! Today I had two hard-boiled eggs and a grapefruit for my lunch, and for dinner tonight I have steak, but only a salad with it. I’m not too oppressed with hunger, but my tummy feels very surprised!

Instead of beginning with your oldest letter and answering through till I’m up-to-date, I decided to do it the other way around this time, so I brought your last letter to answer today. It was written on October 30, and you had got my A.M. of 20th. I am so sorry that you were worried about your letters, as I haven’t mentioned them – they come very nicely & regularly & Cec & I love them. They are waiting in the evening when I get home & the first thing Cec always says is “A letter from your Mummy”, so I sit down & read it right then & there, then hand it onto him to read while I go & get dinner!

I was glad that you told me again where the colour photos were of, because I had forgotten exactly where they were taken. I knew the house and garden belonged to some friends you had visited, but didn’t know which ones. Also, I had no idea that that was the beach where you went bathing, so was pleased you told me. I think sometime when you have nothing to do, besides making the Family Tree that Cec talks about, you should make me a pictorial map of the island, & put in where people live & where are you bathe & shop & everything, so that I can follow everything that’s going on! There’s a nice job for you!! That reminds me of my scrapbook – do you know it is just about full? I had quite a session a few weeks back one Sat. evening while Cec was working, & I brought us right from our honeymoom up to living in Ann Arbor. I got as far as this summer & only have 2 pages left – can you imagine that huge book bursting full? We still love to look at it & inflict it on anyone else we can!!

First of many scrapbooks!

To return to your letter, Cec was most amused to hear about all the Hazells about the place & your “niece” in the Bank – also most curious to know the joke about Grafton! I couldn’t remember – unless he was the man who didn’t have 6 inches! Is that him?!!

I was sorry to hear that you had been having such queer weather with so much rain, & I do hope that it improves and that you have a lovely time down by the sea. It is a grand idea of Auntie Ettie’s that you should all have a holiday, and I know that you will all enjoy the bathing. Our weather has been a bit strange too. Our weekend at Til & Lois’ was heavenly & warm & for about 3 or 4 days afterwards it was like summer again, then it suddenly got cold & snowed, & has been alternately cold & wet since.

I didn’t really tell you much about our visit to Til & Lois’ so I will go into more detail now, and answer your questions too. They had a good time in Alabama this summer (the little car was fine) and while there they asked Grandma whether she would mind selling the Berwick Ave. house, as it was partly hers originally. She said no, so when Lois came back (before Til) she began looking around & an agent took her to this darling little house by the river, & she fell for it at once. She telephoned Til, & Til came home, & liked it too, so they decided to buy it & Til sold “Berwick” to her nephew Bud & his wife (one of Etta’s children- big fat Etta who used to come to Til’s when I was there & was so nice) so it is still in the family. We only heard about the new house when Til rang us up one evening, & they had only been in it about 3 weeks when we went. I told you all about it & sent a plan in a sea letter I sent, so won’t repeat it, but it is a yellow bungalow & very cosy, with the most beautiful view I’ve seen for ages (it is only one year old). Talking of bungalows, a slight digression to tell you that I had a letter from Denis this week, & he was telling me that he has at last got a job in N/C, so he is very pleased. They are going to stay with Winnie till they find a house, & are keen on a bungalow, so they were interested when the Hayning’s bungalow was for sale, a few weeks ago- price £2,400- & as Denis says only 4 small rooms & not the smallest piece of ground for a garage. We were wondering how they would like living with Winnie, but maybe they will be able to find some other place before long.

To return to our Toledo weekend, Lois met us at the Bus Station in town & drove us out to the house – it takes about 3/4 of an hour- & Til was waiting there with all the lights on & a big blazing fire & it looked lovely. We saw all over the house & had dinner & spent the evening in front of the fire – I was so enchanted to see a fire again, & be able to poke & put on logs! Does it make you nostalgic too, or are you just glad you don’t have to clean out the darn things anymore!

On Sat. morning Cec & I slept till 10, & then got up to find that Til & Lois had been up since 6 or some unearthly hour, & Til said Lois had been shouting & stamping around the place for hours trying to wake us up! After we had breakfast we went out & really saw the place by daylight, & it looked heavenly with the sun shining & all the autumn colours. We scrambled down the bank to the river & really inspected the property & picked lovely branches of queer little white berries & scarlet & yellow maple leaves & I arranged a copper jug & a grey bowl with them & everyone thought they were very artistic!! Lois showed Cec her leaf-brusher-up & her lawn-mower with a seat to sit on & Til & I inspected the plants & roped in Cec to help us transplant some little pine trees that had been just dumped in one place. Cec then helped Lois who was caulking around the side of the house & Til & I went shopping in Waterville for the groceries & began cooking dinner when we got back. Mr. & Mrs. Pasquier were coming later to see us & for a snack Til said, & we just had all the dinner ready about 2:30 to 3 o’clock, when in they came! After everything had been shown etc.Till was in a great quandary as the dinner was all cooked with only 6 little pork chops, but we dished it all up with lots of veg & applesauce etc. and ice cream & cake (stale, Til said) afterwards, & everyone had a good time!

They had to leave in the early evening as they had another engagement, but it was so nice to see them again & Ethel brought us the loveliest presents from her trip abroad. To me she gave a beautiful hankie from Paris, with a map of England woven into it, & for our wedding present she gave us a lovely little cigarette holder and ashtray made of Royal Copenhagen ware, which she got in Denmark. They are a dull turquoise blue on the outside with grey inside & a gold band around the rim. Weren’t they lovely presents?

On Sunday we slept late (Cec & me!! ) then Cec & Lois did more chores & I began cutting suckers off the apple tree with a lovely long handled sort of guillotine! In the afternoon two old aunties of Lois’ arrived (just as we were finishing dinner!) with 2 other ladies & a gentleman & they stayed for ages! Cec & Lois sneaked away & began a great project to enable them to tow the leaf-sweeper-up behind the motor mower & toiled away at it until dark & just got it done, much to their delight!! When the Aunties etc. finally left, Ruth & Ernie & the children & Lois’s other sister, Mary, came as we were just beginning to think of going for our 6:15 bus, so Til called up & found there was another bus at 10:15, so we were persuaded into staying. After a while Ernie took the children home & Ruth & Mary drove us in for the bus, & it was very foggy a lot of the way. The bus was late & we didn’t get home till 1 a.m. feeling fair wore out, but we had a lovely time, & think their house is sweet & just suits them. They are both thrilled with it – particularly Lois, who is as tickled as if she had hatched it!! Til has a grand-daughter – baby born in Panama!

I was most interested to hear about Monie’s impressions of Wales & sympathise with her over the cold feet and nose – particularly as I have a cold sore on my lip at the moment! Pah! -never had them before I got engaged!! I told Cec you were making cracks about his Mama writing letters & he laughed! You won’t be hearing from her for a long time now anyway, as we had a letter last week full of news – they have sold their house & land in Sutherland & have bought a smaller house with a smaller garden actually in Saskatoon. It will be less work & more convenient & they seem very pleased. Also, Russell, the 2nd boy (21) is engaged & getting married at Christmas! He is the one who works on the Govt. Telephones you know & is away from home, but when he was home for the weekend when we were there, there was a little talk of his girl, but not much & we are so sorry we didn’t meet her.

It is now Wednesday, so I have decided to finish & post this letter tomorrow, as I think it is just about the proper weight. I will continue with the rest of the gossip & post the next installment later! Cec is busy marking tests – he is taking 2 classes  (6 hours) a week- the same as he did before, but on Tues. & Thurs. his classes begin at 8 o’clock so that is a change for him!! He is sitting there, muttering “Silly buggers” as he marks things wrong!

My love to Auntie Muriel & Auntie Ettie – I hope that you are all having the loveliest time by the sea.  

        With lots & lots of love for you

          from Cynnie & Cec XXXX

P.S. Cec has given me full marks!

Costain Genealogy #2

Elida Eakin Costain, 1st left.

It is the premise of this blog that in the twentieth century LETTERS kept a wide-flung family together.  Cynthia and the women of the family on the Hazell side did write letters and keep in touch with the day-to-day events of their lives, probably because they had done this in previous generations- the colonial outposts of the empire looked to England and the family was wealthy enough to have the leisure to write at length, and visit, even in different countries.  I’m not sure that this was true for farmer families in North America, who moved across the continent in the hopes of a better life for their children, and who lived in a different economic bracket. Elida Eakin was born in Nebraska but must have moved in the 1890s or 1900s, because she and her immediate family lived in Ponoka, Alberta, in Canada, where her first 3 children were born.  Her husband, Henry Costain, moved from Prince Edward Island where he had grown up, to the West before World War 1, and married and lived in Ponoka before moving his family to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 1920s.  Elida kept in touch with her immediate family in Ponoka, Henry with his, but the familiarity with the more extended members of his Costain family in P.E.I. was lost- something that wouldn’t have happened if he had continued living there and had bumped into distant cousins as one does in a small community.

I’m sure Elida wrote to and occasionally visited her sisters; my Auntie Merle did the same with her cousins but they were not as close as the Hazells were. The Costain children knew their aunts and uncles who visited occasionally, but not the P.E.I Costains.  The families were as large, but it was a different culture; a busier, more hard-working lifestyle; and letters were probably infrequent and concerned with the major events of life, rather than minutia.  Also keeping in touch seems to have been the business of the women of the family rather than the men- certainly Cec’s letters indicate this- I doubt he ever wrote much to his aunt or cousins.  Both Cyn’s parents were the youngest of 12 children, but on her father’s Ewing side, she seems to have been in touch with only 3 or 4, and a couple of cousins.  (There’s a distant Ewing cousin in Australia who visited Cyn and went to Ireland, and sorted out that genealogy- I assume some of Gordon’s generation, or earlier ones, moved to America and Australia- and she gave him the ‘Antique cup and saucer’ listed in her Wedding Present List as coming from Uncle Jim.) When you look at the wedding presents on Cyn’s list, there were gifts from aunts, uncles, and cousins- 9 Hazells, 6 Ewings, 2 Costains, and the 1 Eakin aunt.                                                                                                                                                    

So I know very little about the Eakin side of my father’s family, having only met one of his cousins, Evelyn Abbott.  This rough sketch is all I know of my grandmother’s family- any corrections welcome!  

September 7 1950

Thursday 7th Sept. 

Dearest Little Momma,

Here we are in Ottawa, and staying in an elegant hotel, the Lord Elgin, for a few days. Cec is fixing money with the Bank, & is seeing all the people he knows at the National Research Council. It is practically certain he will work for them when he finishes in Ann Arbor, & they have given him a $1500 scholarship for this year – isn’t that nice of them? Dr. Herzberg is the head of the Physics Dept & Cec used to work under him when they were both at Saskatchewan, & they seem to have a mutual esteem for each other!

I like Ottawa very much from what I’ve seen- it is a bit like an English city, but not so big & not dirty & smoky! The Parliament Buildings are lovely – all granite with green copper roofs & in a lovely position in parks on a hill overlooking the river. You can see the Laurentian Mountains in the distance, & the countryside looks pretty & wooded. I am quite excited at the thought of coming here to live next year & think it will be very nice. It is much more like home than Ann Arbor & Cec has quite a lot of young friends here already. Did I tell you Connie & Leonard were coming here next month? So they’ll still be here when we arrive to live! We have been looking at the House for Sale Ads in the paper, & they seem to be more reasonable than Ann Arbor & sounded nice! We got quite thrilled over picking out the ones we liked!

When I last wrote to you we were on our way to Regina to visit Merle. We arrived there on the Wed. evening, & found her with the 2 boys, John (10) & Lorne (7) & the baby Bruce (3 1/2 mths) all waiting for us. Dixon was away at the time & didn’t come back till the evening we were leaving which was a pity, but we enjoyed visiting with Merle. The 2 boys were full of fun & out playing most of the time, & the baby was a pet. He is chubby & full of smiles & Cec & I had a lot of fun with him. We left Regina at 2 a.m. & arrived in Montreal at 2 p.m. & went out to Lee & Wendy’s where Lee was very proudly waiting to show us her son. He was a pet too, but only two months old, so of course seemed small after Bruce, but I got quite hot at changing nappies, & feeding bottles & burping! Lee also has a cat & 2 kittens, so we were always nursing a baby or a kitten & had a lovely time. We stayed in Montreal from Sat. till Tues. a.m. then flew here – only 50 mins. but it was bumpy & I was sick! We leave tomorrow & stay in Toronto with Cec’s Aunt & Uncle & then home on Sunday – it will be quite nice to be home again. Some of your letters should be waiting for me as we didn’t get letters forwarded after we left Saskatoon. Have just written Aunt Ettie, to wish her a happy trip on Sat. 

My love to Auntie Moo, with 

    lots and lots for you from


Cec’s aunt and uncle, Lillie and Milton Costain, lived in the same bachelor apartment in Toronto all their married life. Milton was a partner in a business that made custom cabinetry for commercial enterprises.

August 30 1950

The Costain Brothers: Cec, Russell, and Carman.

30th Aug. 1950. 

Dearest Little Mommy,

Thank you so much for your last letter, posted August 25, which Gunborg forwarded to me. I was so glad to learn that Jean had a son – I had been telling Mom Costain about it just that morning, & was so tickled to open your letter & see the news first thing! I was most amused at serious Peter rushing around blowing his horn after the birth of his son! Give Jeanie my love when you see her again.

I was sorry to hear that it was so hot & humid in St. V. now – it must be very uncomfy. Since we got here the weather has improved, & although it was so cold at first, it is lovely now, because the sun is warm yet there is a cool breeze & it gets quite cold at night. Just after we arrived we heard on the radio about a big hurricane heading for the W.I’s & we at once thought of you but it seemed to head further north & we didn’t hear of it doing any great damage. I hope that St. V. will escape & that you won’t have any bad storms.

Since I last wrote we seem to have been busy dashing around & today is our last day here. At 7 o’clock this evening we fly to Regina and stay with Merle & Dixon until Saturday, then we fly overnight to Montreal. I wrote last Wed. then on Thurs. Cec & I went into town again & I bought a pretty skirt – it is in pastel colours – sort of plaid in yellow, grey & pale blue. We also had tea in town & had cream puffs made in the shape of swans!! On Friday, Mrs. Costain had invited Mr. & Mrs. Moor & Pete & Lu to dinner, so she had a busy day. Cec & I went out & picked strawberries- yummy! – & I shelled peas & scraped potatoes & set the table etc. We had fried chicken which was lovely & for dessert we had Saskatoon pie! Saskatoon’s are kind of berry like blueberries a bit, & it was a lovely pie! Afterwards Pete & Lu had to leave early & Cec went with Pete to the University to see the work he is doing on the Aurora – he does things with it and radar & spends all his nights there & Lu is disgusted! He is trying to get Cec interested too & Lu keeps warning me, but I don’t think Cec is very keen! We saw the Northern Lights one night, very bright & lovely, but the night Cec was with Pete, they only got echos from 500 miles away & he came home about 3 a.m. That night Russell (the 2nd youngest brother) came home for the weekend, but he was late, so I didn’t meet him till Sat. He is big too, & tough as he works on the Govt telephones, but he doesn’t look like Cec & Carmen & Lee – he is brown haired & brown eyed & has a shorter, squarer face with a ruddy complexion!

Carman and Russell in formal dress!

Mrs. Costain & I washed that day & in the afternoon we were all so upset because Laddie, the lovely collie dog got knocked over by a car. He came home feeling very sick with a great scar in his head, his ear bleeding, his nose and mouth bleeding too & looking so badly. Cec washed his cuts & we tried to do what we could but his nose after we’d cleaned the cuts on his nose and ear so Cec called the Vet. (a lady) & she came & examined him, & put some sulpha ointment on, & gave him 2 great aspirins, so he finally laid down & went to sleep. He seemed to feel a bit better the next day, & by now is practically himself again. He is such a sweet dog – very affectionate & gentle & friendly & lovely looking – just like Lassie Come Home.

Elida, Henry, Russell, Cec, Carman, and Laddie.

That evening Cec & I went down to the Officers Mess at the Naval Barracks & had quite a nice little party & singsong & spent the night at Pete & Lu’s. We came home for lunch & to see Russell, & then in the evening Cec had work to do with Pete, so I went & sat with Lu. The next evening one of the Profs at the Univ. Dr. Petrie, & his wife (a young couple) invited Cec & I & Pete & Lu over for drinks & yesterday we went to lunch with an older prof Dr. Mackay & his wife, & Cec gave a talk to the Physics Dept on his work & I did the ironing! So we have been busy! Yesterday evening we spent at home & all had a jolly time playing Chinese Chequers!

We have had a very happy time here, & I have enjoyed it all so much. At first I was a little shy, but the longer we stay the more at home I get, & I feel quite sorry that we are leaving now. After we go to Montreal, we spend about 3 days with Lee, then go to Ottawa for about 3 days, then to Toronto & home about the 12th. The railway strike is still on, so we are very lucky to have our air tickets.

Must stop now & get the packing done. Love to A. Moo – Cec would send love, but is downtown just now. Lots & lots of 

               love from


August 23 1950

Russell, Cyn, Carman, Elida, and Henry Costain. All smiling at Cec taking the picture!

Wed. 23rd Aug. 1950

Dearest Mummy,

Here we are in Saskatoon at last! We’ve been here nearly a week now, & the time has flown although we haven’t really been doing very much, except having a wonderful rest & being very lazy!

I wrote from Windsor, so you should have our news up till then – at least I hope you got the letter all right, as I hadn’t any idea of its weight or the cost, & just stuck on a whole lot of stamps & hoped for the best!

We got up early next morning & got the bus to the airport at 7:30. We were quite annoyed, because we went into the Hotel dining room at 7:15 for a cup of coffee, & they were so slow that it arrived just as we had to leave, but when we were on the plane, we got a cup of coffee & some biscuits, so we didn’t starve! We got to Toronto about 9, & had about an hour to wait there, so we had breakfast in the Airport Cafeteria & it filled in the time nicely. The next plane we got was the big trans-continental four-engine liner, & it was very comfortable, but very noisy. There was only one stop at Winnipeg, & when we came down there, my ears popped so, that I was as deaf as a post, but when we went up again I was O.K, so when we got to Saskatoon I chewed gum furiously & it was much better! We had lunch on the plane which was fun, & arrived in Saskatoon at 3:25 – it was really 5:25 by the time we left Windsor, as we lost 2 hours on the way! Understand?

Mr. & Mrs. Costain & Carman were all waiting for us with a taxi, so we were home quite quickly & I soon got over the qualms at meeting my in-laws, & we get on fine! Gunborg had made us laugh before we left by telling us how nervous she was when Gordon took her to meet her future in-laws, that she had diarrhoea all the time! But you’ll be glad to hear I didn’t follow her example! Mr. & Mrs. Costain are both easy & jolly & very homey, so I don’t have any trouble feeling shy with them, & Carmen is just a slighter, younger edition of Cec, so he is fun, & Cec & he have a good time kidding each other. The other brother, Russell is coming home this weekend, so we will meet him then. Everyone of course is exclaiming about Cec’s size, & I feel quite proud of my accomplishment! Cec gets a great kick out of meeting people & watching recognition slowly dawning on them, & they all say it suits him to be fat!! Of course no one knew me in my slim days, so they just think I’m a natural podge!!

Sutherland is about 3 miles out of Saskatoon & is really in the country. There seems to be a great deal of sky to me, & it is most unusual for me to be able to look & see such a huge lot of land around, as of course it is flat prairie. The city is nice, built along the banks of the river, & I keep feeling surprised that everything is so new, but Cec says the whole province was only opened in 1905, so the city is younger than that. I’ve never been in such a young city before!

When we arrived it was bright & sunny but quite a breeze blowing, which was a nice change from the heat of A. A., but Mrs. Costain was saying that it was the coolest summer she ever remembered, & the previous night they had quite a frost which had nipped quite a lot of her garden. Since then it has been cold & windy, & yesterday the wind got icy & last night there was another bad frost, so Mrs. Costain is very sad about her garden produce. She says it has finished all the corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans & squash, which is such a shame as they have a great big plot, with all the things just ready to ripen. We have already had lovely strawberries, raspberries, peas & green beans from the garden, & Mrs. Costain has been canning peas & beans & rasps & peaches, but she says it is just nothing compared to what they usually have.

The very first night we had gorgeous fried chicken & fresh eggs every day, so we are living in luxury! You will probably have heard that there is a big railway strike on here which began this week, & everyone is very worried because there will be no coal, so that will curtail electricity, & eventually food shortages & so on, but with all the chickens & eggs here, we don’t have to worry! We are very lucky to be travelling by plane & to have all our reservations as we would be stuck otherwise. We went down to the Air Office yesterday to check our reservations & the man there told us they were worth their weight in gold, because of course everyone is rushing to try & get air passages now & they are booked solid for a month ahead.

The first few days we were here we didn’t do much, except sit about & talk, but on Sat. afternoon Cec took me to town & I was tickled to bits because I went shopping at the Hudson Bay Company! It made me feel as if I were in the outposts of the Frozen North, but they have a nice modern shop here, & I bought a yellow cardigan made of nylon! Also a new suspender belt & brassiere!! We went to the pictures to see “Twelve O’clock High” with Gregory Peck, & then had ham & eggs & chips in a restaurant & went home!

On Monday we all went to dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Moor- they are Merle’s husband’s parents & a very nice old couple. We had a lovely dinner, & then Mrs. Moor showed us her garden which was very pretty, but I got eaten by mosquitos! I simply love the gardens here, as they are so lovely & well-kept, with a beautiful show of flowers, whereas in A.A. now there’s not a flower to be seen. In that way it is very like England here, & I enjoy it so much.

Yesterday morning Cec took me up to the university to meet some of his old professors. He, of course, had been up before but he introduced me to Dr. Harrington, the head of the Physics Dept. & two other Profs & I met Pete there & some other fellows. I also saw the Betatron which is a great big thing they have there & with which they are experimenting with in the treatment of cancer & meeting with some success.

In the afternoon we went downtown again, & Cec went to the Bank etc. & then we shopped for him & got 6 shirts, 6 prs. pants, 8 prs. socks & 2 ties! We were to go to Pete & Lu’s for dinner, but we were so exhausted soon after 4 by all our shopping, that we phoned Lu & went out there early! Their little girl, Leslie, is 10 months now, & is the sweetest little thing – red-gold hair, lovely pink cheeks, & big, slightly slanting blue eyes like her Daddy! She can stand & walk holding onto things, & has 2 teeth & says Dada, & Mama & Baby! We loved her & she was cute, but a little doubtful of Cec!

Leslie Forsyth.

We had a grand evening with them, with lots of reminiscing & with drinks before dinner we got quite hilarious & thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! We are all going in a party to the Naval Barracks on Sat. evening, & expect to have fun – Cec was always telling me about the parties they used to have there! I have to let out my grey & yellow taffeta!!

Do you remember Cec talking about his lovely collie dog, Laddie? Well, he is just beautiful – so big yet as gentle & playful as anything, and of course just loves Carman, although he is devoted to the whole family. Carman has joined the Air Force Reserve this summer, so is away for classes etc. at the Airport each day except Sat & Sun. Mr. Costain is home though, as he is taking his holiday from the Hatchery which he manages, & is working amongst his chickens & garden all day.

Now for your letters – the first one was your last from Bequia & you were telling us about the hilarious party on your last evening & we thoroughly enjoyed it! Especially the bit about Uncle Fred emptying the flower vase of Bren etc. to get you a quiet audience for your song! I’m glad you kept up your reputation as a great singer – you’d probably have done even better though if you’d had 4 sherries! We were so glad that you had such fun though, & thoroughly enjoyed hearing all about your adventures, & the crazy ongoings!

We were pleased that you had a nice time on our wedding anniversary too, & had a nice sea bathe & drank our health! It seems an age ago now, as so much has happened lately. I was interested to hear about Alec going to N. Zealand & feel sorry for Peg that she can’t go too- I would be mad if I were her! But it’s a grand thing for him to be able to go. I’ll be interested to hear how Arthur’s job hunting goes & if they are going to stay out there. I wonder if Bren would really like to settle in England after such a luxurious life in St.V. – it sounds so wonderful, especially when you have children, but of course there are drawbacks.

I was amused to hear about Patsy’s diet sheet, & glad that it is having some effect- I’ll have to follow her example when I get back, but I don’t think my consumption of alcohohol can affect my weight much! I am sorry I didn’t get the typed copies of the paper you sent, done before I left home, but we had such a scramble, & I didn’t think you would want them in a hurry, so I will do them & send them off when I get home. I took the colour films to be printed, but they take quite a while, so I will have to send them when we get back as well – I look forward to seeing them. I had a letter from Dottie after her op. & she seems very cheerful & was going home next day, so I hope she will be all right. Poor Dottie – it sounded horrid & such a surprise too to find she had something like that. She said Pete had been better lately so that’s one good thing.

Was so glad to hear Auntie Mil’s house is so nice – I am longing to know if Jean has a son! I expect you will have written to tell me, but although Gunborg is forwarding letters, none have come yet. My love to Auntie Moo & the girls – with lots & lots for you 



[Cec’s hadwriting] 

Dear Mom,

Sorry to report Cyn went out like a light last night, tut-tut, I had to wake her to bring her home Lu was out as well & Pete & I had to do the dishes. Too much I guess, 

Love Cec.                        [Cyn:] Gross exaggeration! [Cec:]  oh yeah!

Costain Genealogy #1

The Costains emigrated to Canada from the Isle of Man sometime in the first two decades of the nineteenth century and settled in Prince Edward Island. My cousin Sharon Moor did a thoroughly researched family tree that runs to 248 pages in a PDF file that I find hard to navigate- if you know the name of the Costain you are looking for, no problem, but finding his father- I couldn’t. 

However: Thomas Costain married Jane Brydson in 1793 in the Isle of Man and they died in P.E.I.  John, Paul, Thomas, and Richard Costain were born in the Isle of Man but died in P.E.I. after marrying and having lots of children, so I assume they emigrated as a family, leaving a married sister behind and bringing the unmarried ones with them.  John married Isabel Leard, a P.E.I. girl, in 1823, the rest followed suit, and they all proceeded to populate the island.

A generation later, Job Costain married his first cousin Mary Costain in 1877 and they had 7 children, one of whom was my grandfather.  So that is where my amateur tree will start.

There was one other son, Stephen Darrell, born to Henry and Elida in 1937 with Down Syndrome, who died in infancy.

Henry Hudson Costain had grown up on a farm in Prince Edward Island, had gone to university but not taken his degree, and went west as a teacher. He married Elida Eakin, a teacher, and they started their family during the First World War. Henry’s brother Harry joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and fought overseas, being seriously wounded in 1918 and not returning to Canada until 1919. Henry and Elida moved from Ponoka, Alberta to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the 1920s and farmed there- perhaps because that was where the provincial university was. Harry moved west also, and lived in Calgary.

Although the Depression was hard even on poultry farmers, Henry’s children were able to go to university- Merle got her B.A. before she married and later became a teacher. Lena became a nurse, and kept working during her marriage. Cecil got his B.Sc. and became involved with the new invention, radar, during the war, and served with the British Navy as a radar officer. His wartime letters home have been posted. He emerged as Lieutenant Commander and went back to the University of Saskatchewan for his M.Sc. and then got a Commonwealth Scholarship that sent him to Cambridge in England for his Ph.D. where he met and married Cynthia.

In 1950, he is still working on his Ph.D but at the University of Michigan, where his professor, Dr. Sutherland, has moved. Once he has his degree, he expects to be working in Ottawa at the National Research Council, and this holiday trip includes some ‘business’ he has to see to in Ottawa. His brother Russell is working in Saskatchewan, and expecting to get married soon, and the youngest Costain, Carman, is still at school-or university- and has classes during the summer with the Air Force Reserve.

Cyn and Cec will meet the first members of the next generation on this 1950 holiday- Merle’s 3 sons and Lee’s baby- and I will attempt the next part of this genealogy once I’ve been born, the brothers are married and all my cousins safely arrived in the 60s!

August 16 1950

Wed. 16th Aug. 1950.

Dearest Mummy,

Here we are in Canada! We arrived here this afternoon, after our usual Costain mad rush at the last minute, and now having got everything organized we are sitting back in our hotel room feeling that we are on our holidays!

  You will notice that we postponed our date of leaving, as Cec had some work to finish for Dr. S. and I was just as pleased as it gave me time to do everything I wanted to, instead of every other thing! I finished work on Friday, and since then I’ve washed & ironed all our clothes, mended them (!!!), cleaned the flat thoroughly including scrubbing all the floors, so I feel very virtuous now! I packed my case last night, & got all Cec’s things ready, but this morning what with washing up & cleaning the very last things out of the fridge etc. we had quite a scramble to be ready at 10:30 when Gunborg very kindly came & gave us a lift down to the bus depot. We got the bus into Detroit, which takes about 1 1/2 hrs, then took another bus through the tunnel under the river to Windsor. We had to get here before the banks closed to get our Canadian money, then we went to the Airline Office & payed for our tickets & at last had lunch & we were hungrey! We thought we would go to the pictures tonight to see “Kind Hearts & Coronets” which we missed in England, & then get to bed early, as we have to be ready to get the bus to the Airport at 6:30 a.m.! We go to Toronto, then change planes & arrive at Saskatoon at 3:25- isn’t it incredible, when it would take us nearly 3 days in the train.

I haven’t written to you properly since my Epic, although I did send a sea letter of funny things from Ann Arbor. In that time we got 2 letters from you, & thank you very much honey. I have them with me, & will answer them in this, or if I haven’t time, will answer them in my next from Saskatoon.

We don’t seem to have been doing very much but the time has flown, & of course I have been busy with my chores as usual. We had a grand day in Detroit with the Sutherlands, & I had lovely time. We drove there in their car arriving about noon, & as we hadn’t been able to book tickets for the Ball Game, we went to the stadium & found we’d have to go & get them at 6 in the evening. Gunborg & I were all for having a nice dinner but with having to go so early to the game, we decided instead to have a nice lunch, & we went to a very nice Swedish restaurant we had heard of, called the Stockholm. It was lovely & cool for which we were grateful as it was a sweltering day (I wore my new green suit) & we had an extremely nice lunch- there was a Smorgasbord first (a kind of hors d’oeuvres- all sorts of dishes hot & cold, set out on a big table, & you go & help yourselves) then steak, and I being adventurous had a peculiar dessert that wasn’t very nice, but I didn’t mind!

After lunch we left the S’s to go shopping, & Cec & I went & saw about our re-entry permits for coming back to the U.S. & then to the Airline & arranged about our tickets & paying in Canadian dollars etc. We had arranged to meet the S’s at 4 o’clock, & it was still early, so we went to the great big store, Hudsons, & shop gazed & didn’t buy a thing! We met the S’s, & they shopped a bit more, then we had tea & finally went out to the stadium. We had to queue till 6 o’clock, then dashed in & got tickets & tore up the ramps & got seats!

In no time for seats were all filled (unreserved) & the game didn’t begin until 8:30, so we had a long wait, but it wasn’t dull because all the players were out practising & we had our programs & picked out the ones we knew from the radio broadcast, & it was fun. We ate hotdogs & drank pop, & it didn’t really seem long to wait. The Ball Game was Fun! Detroit was playing the New York Yankees, & they are great rivals, so it was very exciting, & Detroit won! I stood up & yelled & got so excited right at the beginning that Cec was worried my voice wouldn’t last through the game – I had a lovely time & enjoyed it hugely & so did Cec. Gunborg didn’t think it was very thrilling, so we were a little bit disappointed in her! We got back to A.A. about midnight, & I felt very pleased with my nice day.

Jessie Forsyth came that weekend to say goodbye, as she was leaving. We won’t see her in Sask. as her home is in Medicine Hat, but we will see Pete & Lu.

Last week we were busy at the office, & one evening I even did 3 1/2 hrs. of typing at home for one of the men- got paid of course too! Then we suddenly got a card from Joan & Ray Appleyard saying they had been driving out West & were returning to Yale via Ann Arbor & hoped to see us on Thurs. So of course, we were tickled to bits, but they didn’t actually arrive till Friday mid-day. They look just exactly the same (Ray thinner) & had with them a couple Bid & Denis Manon with whom they used to play bridge in Cambridge & used to call the Porkers – I didn’t know them. They had been driving most of the night, & got lost, & the car broke down, so they were in a dirty, sleepy condition when they arrived. We all had lunch in town together, then Cec took Joan & Ray back to the flat while I went back to work. The Manons went to a hotel, but I asked them to dinner & we had quite a successful meal of steak with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, tossed salad & cantaloupe. We asked the S’s over for a drink afterwards & we had a very nice evening. Joan & Ray slept on our sitting room sofa which pulls out into a double bed, & said they slept very well, then after breakfast set out at about 8 o’clock to collect the Manons & go to Niagara & then back home. They are going to stay in Yale another year – they were both asking for you & sent their love.

We have been to the movie & are back & going to bed now. We didn’t see “Kind Hearts & Coronets” as it was a long way away, but went to see “Stage Fright” instead. It was quite good, but there was a stinker on with it, which we sat through to see the beginning of the other!!

Will write soon again from Saskatoon. 

     With lots & lots of love from us both

           Cyn & Cec

So Cyn and Cec were on holiday starting in Windsor, and there also in Windsor Ontario, was a red-haired 4-year-old boy who would grow up to marry their daughter!

Cyn may have been nervous about meeting her in-laws for the first time, but she also was interested in seeing more of Canada, going West, and then visiting more of Cec’s relatives, as well as their trip to Ottawa where they expected to be living in the future. And I’m sure the Costains liked her- Carman would spend a couple of summers living with them, and when Merle and Dix moved to Ontario in the 60s, the two families became close, and shared quite a few more holidays!

February 21 1950

803 Granger Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Not all the letters to Carol, still in Hampstead, have survived, but this one sums up the journey to the States and puts the couple in their new apartment and new life.  And on the way there, Cyn meets some of her new relatives, and Cec’s friends.  Lea and Wendy are Cec’s second sister Lena and her husband, Wendell Atchison, a United Church minister.  Pete and Lu Forsythe are friends from Saskatoon from Cec’s university days, now at McGill doing graduate work. In Toronto lived Cec’s uncle and aunt, Milton and Lily Costain. Later in the letter we learn that Cyn’s uncle, her father’s older brother, John Ewing, has died, and that Cyn will write to her relatives in Ireland.  

It is fun to read Cyn’s excitement at big grocery stores after England’s rationing, and her pleasure at baking her first ham! And she continues the misspelling of ‘hungry’, which we first read in her school letters, and is the only word she consistently gets wrong…

803 Granger Ave.

 Ann Arbor, Mich.

 21st Feb. 1950.

Dearest Mummy,

Thank you so much for your letter of the 16th which we got yesterday. I was so glad to know that you got my letter from the ship and knew that we were both quite safe and sound – the crossing wasn’t really dreadful, just uncomfortable and boring!! However, as you say the Queen’s were even worse, we didn’t do so badly. About Revelle’s I hardly think they are worth it – they didn’t stop me feeling ill & the steward said they actually made people sick! And as soon as I got used to it, I was o.k. without anything.

I told you all about our travels in Canada in my last letter, and we were very pleased to have got in all our visits, despite the fact that we both found all the travelling very tiring. I expect our sea trip didn’t leave us feeling too strong either, but we are both fine now after having a good rest in our apartment! 

This plan of their apartment is hard to read in the letter too- thin air mail paper, dying pen & pencil!

The business of getting off the ship in Halifax and spending the night in the Customs shed was the worst of all- standing and waiting to get off the boat for hours, and then waiting and waiting in a packed mass of people to get into the shed to claim your luggage – then waiting for Customs men & railway men & goodness knows what. We were exhausted and practically nervous wrecks, but there were mothers with tiny children and an old lady all by herself, and how they managed at all I don’t know. I think you must have got muddled with our dates, Mummy, because all along we were supposed to dock on the 7th and had to be in A. A. on 13th as Cec began work that day. With the ship being late and not docking till the night of the 8th, our plans had to be changed a bit, but as we got our US currency problems settled so quickly in Ottawa, we caught up time there, and were able to get back to Montreal the same day. We didn’t really see very much of Ottawa, as we dashed about so, but it was a glorious bright sunny day, with fresh snow, so everything looked very sparkling and clean. The whole countryside was snow-covered of course, right from Halifax, but when we got to Toronto there was none. Then on our way to Detroit there was quite a blizzard, & it has been snowy here ever since, with quite a big fall today.  The night before last the temp. was down to zero but the flat is nice & warm and outside it was sunny & clear, so wasn’t at all alarming!

I enjoyed our stay in Montreal, and liked both Lea and Wendy and Lu and Pete. I see quite a family resemblance between Lea and Cec and Wendy reminded me quite a bit of Bob Mills – not so much in appearance, as in manner & way of talking. They live at a small place a bit out of Montreal- about 1/2 hr in the train- which Lea says is quite a summer resort. Wendy has a small Church there, and the house goes with the living – it has no running water, but a pump in the kitchen, so Lea is delighted at the prospect of moving into a new house which the Church is getting next month. She has taken on another job for a few weeks – night nursing a lady who has had a nervous breakdown- but she got a substitute while we were there. Lu & Pete live out the other side of Montreal in what were RAF married quarters which have now been taken over by the Univ. (McGill) for married students. We spent an hour or so there, chatting & seeing the baby who is cute, & then all went into town and had dinner before they saw us off on the train. Next day we spent with Cec’s Uncle and Aunt in Toronto & they were both very sweet & kind. Cec rang up his home from there & had quite a chat with the family which was nice too.

Since we got settled in Ann Arbor, we have led a very placid restful life for a change! The very first evening we were here, I telephoned Til & Lois and we had a great gossip and I squealed with excitement at them! As we didn’t feel like any more travelling for a while, we arranged for them to come up on Saturday afternoon, which they did. They are just the same as ever, & liked Cec (of course!) & Til thought he was so cute she would like to take him home with her! We had tea (!) here & talked & talked & a drink & talked some more and then went out for dinner. Then Til & Lois left around 8–8:30 & we will go & see them probably a week on Friday. We don’t want to make any plans for just now, as we are waiting for our 8 crates, 2 wardrobe trunks & 2 tin trunks which we sent by freight from Halifax as it was much cheaper. Cec will have to go & see them through the Customs at Detroit when we get word that they have arrived, so we are just hanging on. We have bought all the necessities, but I find that my cooking must be simplified, as we have so few dishes! Our flat is our pride & joy & we do like it. I keep opening & shutting the refrigerator & I’m getting used to the electric stove. Cec & I did quite a big grocery shopping on Wed. as well as getting pans etc. Then on Friday Mrs. Sutherland took me in their car to a big grocery store with her because it is quite a distance away & with big bundles it is too far to walk. She says that I may come with her each Friday so it will be a big help as she & Dr. S. only live in the next street. I just love going around the big grocery stores – I have to keep turning away from temptation & not buying everything I see, because our bills are quite big enough! We don’t think food is quite as expensive as we’d thought it would be, but of course with buying staples & a few tins we have spent more than usual this week. The Sutherlands had a most wonderful baked ham the night we went to dinner, & they said it really wasn’t extravagant, as beef or mutton roast cost just as much or more, & it lasted for so many meals, so as a treat we got one for ourselves last weekend! It was a shoulder ham & weighed 4 3/4 lbs, so Fri. night I cut two big slices off & fried them, & on Sun. baked the rest & it was gorgeous! The first time I ever baked ham! We had corn, & creamed potatoes & apple sauce with it- hungrey?! Next night we had it cold with salad, lunch today we had a little in our Rice Pilaff, & tonight we had it scalloped with hard-boiled egg so it is lasting us well & still some left- also the hambone in the stock pot!

I have been doing various small washings here, but there is no place to dry things & we had a mass of stuff accumulated, so today I took it all to a Laundrymat! That is, I spent 65¢ for the use of a Bendix washing machine & got all the clothes washed, rinsed & dried. Actually, I could have had it done 10¢ cheaper if I’d stayed & put the things through the dryer etc. myself, but it takes 1 1/2 hrs so I paid the extra & just left it & collected it later. Isn’t it all clever? There are about 20 machines in this place & it is only 5 or 10 minutes walk away, so it is well worth my going- they charge by weight, so if you have only a little you pay less. Mrs. Kaufman has loaned me her iron & board, so I will iron tomorrow – they are both being very kind & have given us lifts in the car & lent us books & magazines as well. They are still in the middle of having their kitchen & new bathroom etc. fixed, so are in a great muddle. [Changed to writing in pencil, hard to read on onionskin paper.]

Yesterday evening Cec & I went to a Basketball Game! The University v. the State College. All the Sports Fields, Gyms, Stadium etc. are just a block away from us, so it is very convenient, & Cec thought it would be fun to see some basketball games, then Dr. S. gave him 2 complimentary tickets to this one. It is the same sort of thing as netball, but played with men & much faster – I enjoyed it – & the Univ. won!

Tomorrow Mrs. S. is taking me to a Tea Party given by the wife of one of the Profs for the “Physics Wives” so I must behave myself. As you can see, the ink situation is bad – both of our pens dry so I must stop soon.

We were so sorry to hear about Uncle John’s death, and I will write to the Ewings this week – they will all feel it a big break in their family circle & I wonder if poor Auntie Annie will last long now. I was interested to hear about Pam & George & Nikki being to see you & looking forward hugely to hearing all about Ruth’s party. My goodness, their expense over my wedding will be just a spit in the eye compared to this! I am sure you will enjoy it when you get there & will look much nicer than Amy! We are sending Ruth a cable tomorrow & will send the nylons when our finances are a little more settled! I am just going to send them & let her pay the duty, because I don’t want to risk losing them if we pay a lot of money for them.

I was most interested to hear Denis & Dorothy’s news & look forward to getting the letter. I am glad you got your trunk safely to London at last, but sorry to hear about the poor little puppy. It was rather a horrid little thing but kind of cute. I do think Joan was unkind to them & I hate to think of the time poor Spivvy is having.

By the time you get this the Election will be over and I wonder what will have happened. Til & Lois & everyone we talk to here are very Conservative-minded!

I simply must stop now. Will write soon again. Don’t begin & get agitated about your trip now – just think how nice it will be when you get to see Jane & Bill & A. Trix & A. Moo – & how much nearer you’ll be to us. I’m so glad you had a nice letter from A.Ettie & that she seems better. 

With love to AGL & Chris & 

      lots & lots for you 



[Cec’s handwrting] She didn’t leave me any room so lots of love

     Cec                                                                                                                  P.T.O.

[Cyn’s handwriting] P. S. I always meant to say Thank You for your photo in the dear little frame.  It is sweet & is on our dressing table.