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.)
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.
November is not a great month for camping but it appears that Charlie’s Cub Group (the younger division of Boy Scouts) had a cookout one weekend.
Cec preferred indoor activities, and went bowling with his colleagues from the Lab.
The Costains no doubt sent best wishes and congratulations to Santiago Polo on the occasion of his wedding, and probably some of his friends from the Lab in Ottawa attended.
However, for the Costains, the main event in November seems to have been preparing for the Public Speaking Contest at the school. Both children incorporated some personal connection into their speech based on the gifts Cec had brought home from his trip, but most of the speech was informative and factual. Cyn typed their efforts but at this level, there was less input from her. The speeches were given in class, then the best competed within the school. Linda made a case for reading being her favourite hobby, and ended her speech on ‘Hobbies’ with this paragraph. “Most boys and girls have at least one hobby. I collect postcards, small china figures and dolls of all nations, and I learn a great deal every day through my favourite hobby, reading. One of these might lead to my life work and anyway I will get a great deal of pleasure from them.” This speech went no farther (probably to her relief), but Charlie was once again one of the 7 contestants in the Intermediate Level with his telescope speech.
After touching on the history of telescopes with Galileo and Newton, he went on to explain that Newtonian telescopes like his were based on mirrors, and gave details about the biggest in the world at Mount Palomar, then returned to his personal experience. “It is rather unfortunate that at first when I got my telescope, it turned cloudy. Instead of looking at the sky, I have had to look at other things. I can see the Uplands Airport radar tower about 5 miles away and I can watch it turning around with an occasional flash as a plane comes down. I can also see birds in perfect detail on the telephone line if they would only stay in one place. The magnification of the telescope is 126 so if a bird is 126 feet away, it appears to be only 1 foot away from your eye. I have also been looking at the sun, and for this I put a special sun glass in the lens.” He goes on to describe and explain sun spots, then his observations of Jupiter and Saturn once there was a clear night. He finished with “I don’t know much about astronomy yet but it is very exciting to look and to learn.”
This time, Charlie won the Intermediate Contest, and got a letter of appreciation from the Fairfield School District Association, as well as a page of the scrapbook devoted to it. The typed copy probably was sent to Carol in the West Indies, but the rough copy survives.
As a teacher (my life work?), the adult Linda found looking at the children’s work at the Grade 6 and 7 level an indication of future direction. I believe Linda’s ‘Hobby’ topic had met some opposition when she stated that her hobby was reading books. Her speech carefully defines the different sorts of hobbies- Collecting, Crafts, Activities- and in the latter category, which she explains as doing things for relaxation, she lumps all sports (which she was not at all interested in) with bird-watching, gardening, and, in her case, reading. It was an argument which she made sure to win, presaging her interest in debating in high school and her future success in essay writing and exams at all levels- not to mention the collecting of a library of over five thousand books.
Charlie’s speech shows his interest in science, and illustrates clearly the technical points as well as personal observations made with his telescope. And I believe at this point, the Costains started to plan their 1963 summer holiday, when there would be a total eclipse of the sun, best seen from the province of Quebec with a telescope …
The New Year of 1960 started with the children back to school with no effects from their German Measles bout. Besides school and Sunday School, we were involved in other activities: Charlie was a Cub and Linda a Brownie, and Linda took beginner ballet lessons. As for Cyn and Cec, when entertainers such as Tom Lehrer or Joyce Grenfell toured through Ottawa, they went with enthusiasm but Ottawa had no theatre before the National Arts Centre was built, so shows were held in the auditorium of one of the older high schools.
Easter came along, and Cyn’s birthday, as well as the news that our second cousin, Little Monie who had married the year before and was now Mona Beatty, had had twin girls, Stephanie and Suzanne. As a trip to the States was being contemplated for the summer, I’m sure this was an added inducement.
In May, there was Mother’s Day to celebrate, and both children involved in music- Charlie’s class performing a small operetta “Peter Rabbit” and Linda in the Music Festival choir competition for Grade 4 Chorus. But the great excitement was the arrival of Carol Ewing from St. Vincent- Grannie came to stay! By this time, Cec had ‘finished’ the basement, dividing the cavernous concrete-floored space that we had once driven our tricycles and wagons around in circles into two, creating a recreation room that could double as a spare bedroom now the children had a room each.
Grannie was always interested in the children’s activities and fitted happily into family life. Cec had work travel- the usual Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus, and then a longer trip that started with a conference where his brother Carman Costain’s work, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, was opened and continued on to Seattle and San Fransisco, where work mingled with tourism!
As the school year ended, plans were made for the summer. Because we were spending most of the summer in Ottawa but had Grannie as a tourist, Cyn made a Chore Chart, where she and the children could check off duties when completed, and each week as a reward, do a tourist activity in the nation’s capital- a cruise on the Rideau Canal, a visit to the Royal Mint, or see the film of ‘Pollyanna’ with Hayley Mills. (Linda had the book of course.)
And as Carol was always involved with the Church, it must have been a satisfaction to witness the service with the Bishop ‘Breaking the Ground’ to start the building of a Church Hall and Chapel on a lot north of the school playground.
We got a new car in July 1960, which was So Modern compared to the 1946 Chrysler that it remained in my mind that way, and it was quite a shock to see the pictures of it now!
This meant that when Grannie’s visit was over in August, we could take our summer trip, and all drive her to New York to visit her nieces, and admire the next generation. Milly and Ford, the Pembletons, who had visited us in Ottawa a few years earlier, had a summer ‘camp’ that the family was used to visiting so we took Grannie there and met the other sisters and their grown-up children, our second cousins- and maybe even the 2nd cousins once removed, the twins. We went to New York City and were tourists! Then we said goodbye to Grannie and the New York families and drove north.
Back in Canada, we headed for Brantford, where the Moors had gone to teach that school year. We arrived just as they moved from a furnished rental into their house on Lorne Crescent, and had a lovely time with our favourite cousins. Linda had her birthday there and Merle got us tickets for the new Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, for Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, which was fabulous. Bruno Gerussi was Oberon, we all enjoyed it, and returned to Stratford often as a summer treat. (Linda got to teach Shakespeare in Nigeria, the Northwest Territories, andBritish Columbia over 30 years, and took her own next generation to Stratford in the summer when possible.)
And when they got home in Ottawa, Cyn had a belated birthday party to organize and a letter to write to Carol in New York- which she kept! All the details to follow…
A quick overview of the rest of 1958. School, in spite of an amazing 40 absences in March and April because of our West Indian trip, apparently went well for both of us, and come the summer, both of us successfully advanced to the next year. However, Charlie, with his birthday in December, was the youngest in his Kindergarten class and so the school decided, at the end of his Kindergarten year, that he should go into the non-accelerated class of Grade 1. Our parents spent the summer brain-washing him into accepting the fact that he would not have Linda’s admired teacher, Mrs Rueter, but would have the teacher our babysitter’s boy, Johnny Lockwood, had had. So we went happily off to school in September 1958, and at the end of the first week, Charlie came home in tears- they were going to move him into the accelerated class! The brain-washing had to be reversed, Charlie was integrated into Mrs Rueter’s Grade 1 and everyone was fine with it- except Mrs Lockwood who was miffed!
The church had grown both in adult congregation and Sunday School. Although still housed in the school, there were dreams of building a Hall or a Church, and various organizations had been formed. The Ladies Guild would meet in the fall, and hear a talk on Fancy Cooking by Mrs. Cecil Costain!
On the relatives front, there was news on both sides of the family. Little Mona, of the unsuitable (and unknown) job, was married in May, with her brother’s bride of the year before as one of her attendants, and no doubt wedding presents from Cyn and Carol.
On the Costain side, Carman and Leona Costain in Cambridge not only had a son, David, but also Carman succeeded in bettering his performance in hockey! I’m sure his work, too, was going well.
In the summer, the Moors- Dix, Cec’s eldest sister Merle, and their family- came through Ottawa, and the cousins finally met. John and Lorne were teenagers and Bruce was 8, a year older than Linda. The adults enjoyed their visit, met up with the Atchisons- the other sister Lea and family- and at some point (perhaps this summer, maybe in the next couple of years) the Moors moved from Port Arthur to Brantford in southern Ontario, which was much more possible to visit! We adored the Big Boys and got on beautifully with Bruce (not always true of interactions with Darryl Atchison, also 8, whom we saw 4 or 5 times a year.) The older boys were very kind to the younger cousins and we all enjoyed being a big family.
Cec went to the Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus in the summer and in August Linda had her 7th birthday with a slide as the big shared present in the summer. Charlie turned 6 just before Christmas. Both continued to do well in school, in spite of Charlie being in hospital in the fall- since neither of us know why, it can’t have been that serious.
In England, there was more serious news among Cyn’s friends. Amy Stainthorpe, who was wont to make acid comments to Cyn and Carol if letters were delayed, died in Newcastle, and Dr. Stainthorpe- Charlie’s godfather who had given Cyn away at her wedding, with Ruth as her bridesmaid- and his daughter Ruth Haynes would have received sad letters from both Cyn and Carol. Another death in Newcastle left no one to write to: little Stephen Mitchell was left without family when his grandmother Mrs. Scott died. His mother Irene – a dear friend of Cyn and Carol’s- and a year or two later his father, had died when he was a toddler- and his grandmother had been bringing him up, but their friends were horrified to hear that after her death the little boy of 6 had been sent to Australia as an orphan. Cyn, Dottie, and Nan had all moved away from Newcastle by this time, and no doubt heard of this after the event, but all worried about the fate of the boy. I am assuming this happened sometime in 1958 because Cyn’s Christmas parcel list, which had mentioned sending Stephen a ‘Frontier Set’ in December 1957, did not list him for 1958.
Nan’s move from Newcastle to Cheshire was recorded in Cyn’s scrapbook with a change-of-address card, and a picture of Sandy, whom I assume had successfully advanced to Grammar School in their new location.
The year ended with a happy Christmas for the Costains, with Dr. & Mrs. Herzberg and their adult children Agnes and Paul, coming for Christmas dinner.
As I have explained before, I organized all my mother’s letters to my grandmother into binders a dozen years ago, and only stated posting them a year and a half ago. I knew there were gaps in the continuity, but it was a shock yesterday to discover, when I finished the binder in August 1957, that the next one opens in 1960! I don’t know what happened to the letters from the missing years- Carol and Muriel were robbed several times over the years, losing family silver, so why not a shoebox of letters? Or they may have been lost, displaced by a move, suffered from a West Indian hurricane- we have no details about those lost years, but the broad strokes are preserved in Cyn’s scrapbooks. I will attempt to cover those years with pictures and my memory before we get down to the minutia of Ottawa in the 1960s!
In August 1957, there were 2 Occasions that Cyn was getting ready for- Linda’s sixth birthday and the new school year in September. First was Linda’s birthday and party, when she was given the doll’s stroller as planned, and the new pink and white sundress her mother had been cutting out August 11th. Following the Baby Boomer pattern, Linda and Charlie’s school was new, and was built on and expanded as they grew too- the same would be true of their high school in the 60s- so Charlie’s Kindergarten start was delayed until the summer build was finished.
Cyn had told her mother that there would have to be two Grade 1 classes, and this was true with over 50 students, but Linda’s Grade 1 class was experimental, in that they were trying an accelerated model. The curriculum was divided into 3 modules per grade and the idea was that the accelerated class would complete 4 modules a year, thus starting Grade 2 in their first year, doing Grades 2 and part of 3 in the 2nd, and completing 3 and 4 in the 3rd- essentially, doing Grades 1- 4 in three years instead of four. This eliminated the problems that accompany bright children skipping a year, and just meant that the whole class would be a year younger than their contemporaries when in Grade 5. (Which is what happened, and where we pick up in 1960!) So the scrapbook shows Linda advancing as planned through Grade 1 without any problems- along with her local friends from birthday parties: Janek, Joanne, Pamela from Sunday School, and Mark and Mara from Kindergarten… Many of us were children of immigrants- Janek could speak 3 languages, Polish, Swiss-German, and English- and I apparently had quite an English accent when I started school. Lots of us also had fathers working at the National Research Council, and I remember my teacher confessing ignorance when I asked for help in answering the question of what my Daddy did- how did one spell Microwave Spectroscopist?- we settled on ‘Scientist’.
I’m pretty sure that on Hallowe’en in 1957, I was Little Red Riding Hood, since Cyn had made me a costume for a party, and Charlie was a clown again, but the scrapbook only records a picture of the Royal Visit.
As Christmas approached, I was involved in the Christmas pageant- as well as our class singing “O Tannenbaum”, perhaps because I was in the choir, Janek and I had to leave the class and go and rehearse with the big kids- and when the pageant occurred, we were little Swiss children- Janek in his lederhosen and I dressed like Heidi with a laced belt my mother made, over a wide skirt and apron.
Of course, Charlie had a birthday just before Christmas, increasing his collecion of Dinky cars and larger vehicles, Cyn sent off her parcels and Christmas cards, and interestingly enough, the children got travelling cases for Christmas, while Cyn received a fitted travelling wash bag…
In February, the expertise of our music teacher, Mrs. England, was proven when our 2-year-old rural school, won first place in our category. I am sure I was in the Grade 1-4 choir, but I remember nothing about it beyond my father mocking the vowel sounds she insisted we use- apparently we sang at length about “a H-o-o-o-o-o-o-p-py New Year” and “Little Lombkins”.
The date on this post is quite misleading, since many of the photographs are from the spring as well as the summer of 1957, but Cyn recorded in her scrapbook the birth announcements of friends and relatives and pictures of their children, as well as important events in the family. It’s a pity we are missing the July letters describing the making of her new dress and the Garden Party- probably more important than the federal election- but we catch up in August.
And family events…
The Governor General’s Garden Party-quite an Ottawa occasion.
And preparations for the new school year to consider!