August 21 1961

2043 Montreal Rd.
Ottawa 2, Ont.

21st August, 1961.

Dearest Mummy,

Here we are, back in Ottawa again. It is just over a week since we returned and already we feel as if we had hardly been away and are all involved with home things once more.
When we got back we found both your letter and your lovely parcel of Yummies waiting for us. Thank you so very much – we all enjoyed them so much – particularly me! The children and Cec liked the chocolate and I even let Cec have a little of the Burney Sugar Cake, but he isn’t crazy about it, so what is the point of squandering it on him? Believe me I had no trouble at all in eating it by myself and already it is all gone! I felt I had to eat it quickly and then I could get on with my dieting with no distractions! Yes, I am up to 134 lbs again after my holiday, so I must really begin the big effort once more and try to get down again. Of course, I have never lost what I gained when I was trying to fatten you up, so I have a long way to go. Tell me, how is your weight keeping? I hope that you are able to maintain it and haven’t lost any of your good Canadian fat! By the way, Cec and I both think that you are doing very well with your typing and hope that you will keep it up. Now that you are not having lessons you should try to type as many of your letters as you can and also practice once in a while, because it is very easy to forget and you will find that if you keep at it it will get easier and you will get quicker all the time. I know that at first it is very hard to think and type at the same time and you feel your letters tend to be stilted, but already I can see the improvement in yours and think they are quite natural now.
Oh, I was going to tell you about the guavas. When we open the parcel we found that the jar of guavas was fine, but sticky, as if it were leaking, so I took it to the sink and washed it off. Then I noticed that it looked a tiny bit bubbly and the metal top was bulging a bit so I called Cec and asked him what he thought, and he took it and very gently eased the top a bit, and immediately the whole thing turned white with millions of little bubbles! He gradually unscrewed the top and it all began foaming over the top like champagne so I dashed and got a bowl and we put it in. Cec and I decided the only thing to do was to cook it again, so I put it in a pan and gently brought it to the boil and let it simmer till the effervescing stopped. I had to add a little water, so it actually it is now more like jam then stewed guavas, but it still tastes delicious and we are enjoying it very much. The guavas don’t seem as firm this time – I don’t know if this is the action of the fermenting or if they were not as firm to begin with. Anyway, don’t let this deter you from sending some more another time – we love guavas, bubbly or not!

The second week at the cottage just flew by of course, and we could hardly believe that there were the same number of days in each week. The Moors arrived about 10 on the Sat. morning – Merle, Dixon, Lorne and Bruce. John as I told you was away, and apparently he is looking after a Mission Church and Sunday School for the summer and gets all his expenses paid and a small salary for it. He is having the time of his life and thoroughly enjoying it, so Merle is very pleased. He has done all right at the University this year, so has one more year for his B.A. then he is going to McGill University in Montreal for his Theology, so we hope to see more of him then. He doesn’t get outstanding marks, but has managed to get by, and apparently the subjects he does really well in are things like Greek which he will need in his Theology, so it sounds as if he will do all right. I was really disappointed to hear from you about Alan not finishing his year at University. I am sure that Marguerite and Bill must have been very upset, and the thing that is so worrying is that having gone through practically the whole year he didn’t stick it out for the exams as now he will get no credit for that year’s work at all. I suppose they will try and get him into a University nearer home.
Lorne, the second boy is now 18, and he was anxiously waiting the results of his exams but apparently there is not much cause to worry as he is the Costain type like Cec and Carman and does well. He is going to McMaster University in Hamilton, and although it isn’t too far away he will live in residence. He has a girlfriend that none of them care for very much, so Merle is hoping that they will both get new interests when he is away! He has a job as a Lifeguard at an Open air swimming pool this summer, so he is as brown as a berry, and as he is a fine figure of a young man and has nice curly hair he is quite a sight to behold! He is an awfully nice fellow too, and played with the children, and helped them with their swimming and is just as easy and natural as can be. He had to be back at his job on the Monday morning, and the whole family was going to leave on Sunday evening, but we found out that there was a bus going to Toronto from the main road nearby and he could catch a train from Toronto to Brantford, so he set off home by himself on the Sunday afternoon and the rest of the family stayed until Tuesday.

Merle was very tired, as she had been staying in Toronto attending this course and had had exams at the end of it and of course the weather had been hot and close, so she really was glad of the rest, and so was Dix as he had been housekeeping for the last few weeks! We all had a really nice time – two swims on Sat. which was a lovely day, and then Sun. turned out rainy, but we still swam twice and we adults chatted and the children played card games etc. Brucie was a real dab at what we used to call “Pelmanism” but he calls “Memory”, but L. and C. gradually caught on and didn’t do too badly – even absent-minded little old Charlie! Monday we swam and rowed and the boys fished with no luck, and then on Tuesday Cec set out at 8 o’clock, and drove over to Gravenhurst and brought back Uncle Milton and Aunt Lillie for the day. They arrived before lunch a while, and we showed them around, and then had a Buffet lunch. I had bought a ham, which we had had for dinner the evening before, so we had cold ham and salad and I made a hot dish of Spanish rice with tomatoes and onion and celery and mushrooms and bacon in it, and then afterwards we had watermelon, which Merle and Dixon brought, and fruit cake which I brought from home. We all had a swim in the afternoon, except Uncle Milton, but Auntie is very fond of the water and had a lovely swim. We had tea afterwards, and then the Moors got ready to leave and they took Auntie and Uncle back home on their way. We were sorry to see them all go and of course it seemed quite flat that evening, so I brought out a huge 800 piece jigsaw puzzle I had brought and we set to on that. We should really have had the Moors help with it, but we had to put it on the dinner table and while we had such a big family we really couldn’t do without that table. It was quite a struggle getting it done before we left on Sat. but Cec stuck with it and we got it done on Fri. evening. We didn’t even go back to Minden that week, we found a little store 4 miles away and got what we wanted there, so the children couldn’t even get P.C.s to send to you as we had planned. In fact we didn’t send any at all, as I had just assumed we would be back again. The weather was lovely and we had a lovely time the last few days and had such fun in the water. Linda liked being under the water more than on top and Charlie was getting very keen on jumping off the dock and beginning not to mind getting his head all wet. The last couple of days we began to play a sort of water polo with a ball in the water Linda and me against Cec and Charlie, and it was a riot – we all grabbed and got dunked and had a great time.

Cousins: Charlie, Linda, Bruce.

We left on Sat. about 12, and this time went home a more direct route through Peterborough, and a better road too. We had a picnic lunch and got to Peterborough afterwards, and called up Joyce and Les Hayward who live there. Do you remember them? They are old Sask. friends of Cec’s and have 3 girls – Linda, Carol and Lois. Joyce told us to come over but said Les was just a week home from hospital after an operation, and when we saw him we were shocked. He had lost 25 pounds and still looked a very ill man. He had had an operation for the removal of his large intestine (polyps growing in it) and then he had had a stone removed from his gallbladder, but this had gone all right until about 4 four days later his whole incision split open and he went into deep shock and nearly died. For two weeks they didn’t know if he would live and he was very low, but thank goodness he has got through it. We stayed and had a cup of tea and a chat really longer than we had planned, but we were so glad that we had called. We had dinner en route and drove through a most torrential thunderstorm and arrived home about 9 o’clock. Apparently the evening before Ottawa had had an even worse time – a baby hurricane they called it, so we missed the big one. Nicki appeared very soon after we put on the lights and we all had a nice reunion!
Last week seemed to be spent mostly in coping with all the dirty clothes! I cleaned up on Monday, and then on Tuesday we took Cec to work so that we could have the car and went to the market and had fun there. We can got all the usual meat and fresh veg. and also peaches, blueberries and tomatoes, and then at the fishmongers I got fresh tuna! It was a curiosity of course, and I can’t say I would repeat it as it is very solid and rather tasteless, and we all agreed we preferred the canned! In the afternoon we took all our personal clothes over to the coin wash (4 machines full) and as there is a nice one at the McArthur Shopping Plaza now we went along and looked at the shops and I bought Linda a pretty little dark cotton dress for school. It is a slaty-grey colour with a little red paisley pattern on it and it has a red belt and a yolk with red piping and then pretty red smocking. It has a little white collar and 3/4 length sleeves, so it is very cute and she looks nice in it, but of course she had her eye on a much paler grey plaid with white lace trimming and mauve velvet bows, so she was quite disappointed! It was a very pretty dress, but more expensive and definitely a ‘Best’ dress – also a bit big for her – I wonder how long before I don’t manage to win these arguments!
The next day I canned some of the peaches and blueberries, and made dill pickles for my two men! I still have strawberry jam left from last year, so I won’t make any jam, but I will try and do some more fruit I think. On Thurs. I went across to Emil’s and had my hair done as it was quite a wreck after all the swimming. I meant to tell you the last time I went to him before I went away, I just trotted over with a sweater and told the children I would be an hour and a half and left them playing with Jimmy. Just as I was ready to leave, all beautiful and curled, it began to pour with rain so Emil went to see if he could find me an umbrella and I was looking out at the downpour, when out of our house emerged two little figures in raincoats with umbrella and carrying my coat! They troddled over in the rain to my rescue – wasn’t it sweet of them?
On Friday I went to the Coinwash again with all the bed clothes this time (5 machines full) and while they were washing wandered down along the shops again, and this time bought a dress for myself! Cec says this Coinwashing is really expensive! It was in that dress shop Reitman’s and you remember what bargains they have at the end of the season, and I thought I would see if I could find something in a dark cotton too, as people wear darker cottons in Sept. and there I found such a pretty black cotton dress in an 11. It was a nice fine cotton with a silky sheen (but not a glazed cotton) and it had a full skirt but the fullness was in flat inverted pleats, and the top had a kind of double breasted effect with a collar and two buttons. The buttons are white and on top of the black collar is a white linen collar which you can take off to wash, and it’s sleeveless. I didn’t know if an 11 would be too tight for me, but it fit very nicely except for the length, and it cost 5 dollars reduced from 14.98, so I got it!
The Savics got back on the Tues. so on Fri. afternoon she asked me and L. & C. over to tea. They had been to England you know – Peter on business, and Margaret to see her sister and family who are in London, but poor things they really didn’t have a very good time as Eddie’s ulcer acted up all the time, and he was sick and in pain, and living on crackers and milk nearly all the time. He is so thin now & he used to be a plump boy. They went to Paris and he was so bad that they flew back to London the next day and really the whole trip was ruined for them as well as the constant worry about Eddie. They couldn’t get him to a specialist in London – it is really hard for visitors to get much medical attention at all now because it was so abused by foreigners previously, so they were all glad to be home. Peter and Margaret came over and had a drink with us on Sat. evening and then yesterday evening we drove over to see the Ganders and return the sleeping bags which they lent us, and get back the case we lent them! They had been to Edmonton to see Jim’s family and to Vancouver to see Lee’s and got back about the same time as we did. They have bought a lot up on a lake in the Gatineau and are having a cottage built this fall, so they are very excited about it. It is near McGregor Lake where we were that time.

Our big excitement this week is Lindy’s birthday of course. I was so tired of the usual party that I talked her into inviting 2 smaller groups of girls this time, and going out for a little expedition instead of games etc. so tomorrow the girls are coming at 10:30 and we are driving out about 15 miles to a place called Clarence past Orleans, where they have started a little Zoo, and then we will come back here for lunch and birthday cake. Then on Thursday we are taking a few more at the same time to the park at Hog’s Back for a picnic, and I only hope that it is fine! On Thursday there will be 4 little girls, but tomorrow I think only 2, as some are still on holiday, but I think this will be a good number to cope with. I thought I would just let them play by themselves at the picnic and perhaps have a Treasure hunt for various flowers and leaves etc. which I would list and give a prize to the winner, but otherwise no effort from Mamma!
We had such a job getting Lindy a present this year – in the end after trailing through town all day on Sat. I found a thing Cec and I had thought of – it’s called ‘Pitch-it’ and is a bouncy net in a frame which you set up on the grass and it bounces the ball back when you throw at it.n I also got her ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ which she dearly loves, a doll’s dress and petticoat, and a new pair of shorts and a top to wear at the picnic. Charlie is giving her a little Dolly’s Toy Shop, and I have your parcel and one from Nan that looks like a book, so she will do very well. She got Auntie Muriel’s card and hankie and was very delighted and will write later. I gave her your card too and she got one from Charlie Stainthorpe, so she has an array already.

This is also the week of the Exhibition [a summer fair with rides, midway, and food, combined with the exhibition of prize animals, veg, etc] so we will be going one day, and on Friday we are having a sort of Farewell Party for Alex and Phyl who are going to McMaster University for a year. This is a new Council policy to have people go and take the place of Profs. who are going away on sabbatical leaves, and Alex is the first one and will take the place of a Prof. McClay. They have rented their house and will leave next week to get settled before the children begin school. We will miss them.
Talking of the Council you will have heard of the Russian Scientist, Dr. Glotchko, who defected to Canada last week? Well, he and the rest of the Russian group were at the Council the day before and saw round, and had lunch there. Boris and Alex were at the lunch and Boris sat next to Dr. G. and said he was very nice and seemed perfectly normal, except that he was just dripping with perspiration all the time, and it wasn’t a hot day. Then the next morning he just walked out of the hotel early and went to R.C.M.P. headquarters. Don’t we live in the midst of the world news?
I must stop now as Linda has Joanne here and it is lunchtime, so I must feed them, and then make a birthday cake this afternoon – not to forget all the ironing still left!
My love to Auntie Muriel, and hello to Doris. Thank you again for the lovely parcel,
With lots of love from us all,

August 4 1961

This letter features family rather than friends, so a quick review of Costains! Cec and Cyn, Linda and Charlie live at the east end of Ottawa, in a duplex with Myrtle Rothwell in the other half, which had a ground floor apartment at the back, now occupied by the Knights, who will feed the cat Nicki while the Costains are away.
As they start out for their holiday they have to drive west through Ottawa, and then go up Highway 17, which goes through Carp where Cec’s sister Lea and family live- so they stop for coffee. They find and enjoy their cottage, and make an expedition one day to visit Cec’s Uncle, Milton Costain, and his Aunt Lily, who normally live in Toronto but are also doing the Ontario summer thing- going to the cottage. What they really are looking forward to is the visit on the weekend of Cec’s oldest sister, Merle Moor, and her husband Dix, with as many of their 3 boys, John, Lorne, and Bruce, as are available. Bruce is 11 at this point, Lorne 18, and the children welcome these cousins, and miss the oldest one.

Gull Lake

4th August

Dearest Mummy,
Well, here we are at the Cottage! I can hardly believe that we have been here nearly a week and we are all having a really lovely time. The weather has been warm & sunny but not too hot & only one evening after dark we had a heavy shower, otherwise no rain at all. The lake is a very big one but we are on a small bay off another larger one called Deep Bay, so actually we only see a small part of the lake but it is very beautiful with wooded hills and rocky outcrops, and all the trees are so gloriously fresh & green this year. Our cottage is not right on the beach, but up a little rise across a field with trees at one side & a rocky hillside behind.

There are only 2 other cottages & the owner’s house (Mrs. Forster- very obliging) & our cottage is nicely off on our own. It is very comfortable with running water, inside toilet, refrigerator, electric stove & light, & a wood stove in the sitting room for heating. We actually just light it in the morning, although it’s not very cold, but it quickens up breakfast if Cec cooks the bacon and eggs on the fire & I do the other things on the electric stove.
We have organized a wonderful system – I cook meals (except Cec lights fires & does most of breakfast) & make beds; Linda sweeps the cottage; Charlie washes the breakfast dishes; then Linda washes the lunch dishes & then Cec washes the dinner dishes, so isn’t that a lovely holiday for me? Just knowing I haven’t a dish to wash makes me feel very carefree!
So far we have swum twice every day & 3 times one day – usually about 11:30 a.m. & 4 p.m. The water is very nice & warm & is grand for the children as the bay goes out very gradually – the beach is sandy but actually the bottom is mostly mud, but it’s not too gooky & unpleasant! Linda is a complete waterbaby & will stay in hours without a shiver, but poor little old Charlie is still as skinny & gets cold as quickly. Lindy is doing very well with her swimming – she swims very well on her back & floats & does somersaults in the water & touches the bottom etc. On her front she swims a crawl stroke & does very well, but she swims with her face in the water & and has difficulty getting her head up & getting her breath without a gulp of water, but it is coming gradually & she already can swim further than when she was in the swimming pool. Charlie seems to have no buoyancy at all! He still doesn’t like to get his face & head wet, but he tries & it will come sometime I expect! I am trying to do the things Lindy learnt at her lessons – the Jellyfish Float etc. so I am being quite venturesome! We are all getting healthy & sunburnt but not to excess! We have rented a rowboat & we row around & go walks & are really quite energetic – Cec took us a hike over the hill one evening which turned out to be quite an expedition, up & down ravines & through bushes etc. & poor Lindy thought we were lost forever! However we turned out exactly opposite our cottage, so the guide wasn’t far off!
Cec bought a fishing rod in a little town nearby & he & Charlie have been fishing in the boat, but had no luck. We all went last night & I rowed them around but Lindy said all the fish had gone to bed! I have said that anyone who catches a fish must clean it himself, so I don’t know if this has dampened their ardour!

We had quite a long drive up on Sat. – nearly 300 miles, & not nearly such easy driving as the Thruway! We had to take food & bedding as well as clothes, so you can imagine how packed little Rosie was. We set out at 8:45 & as we passed right through Carp we had phoned & told Lea we would stop for 1/2 hour for a cup of coffee. We found them all well, but as usual in some sort of flap. Over the prospect of a move to Edmonton this time – goodness knows how it will turn out. Afterwards we went on up the Ottawa River Valley. We had a picnic lunch – in a slight shower of rain, but we were under trees! – & then on up to Algonquin Park – the big National Park you know. Linda was all set to see bears, but we just drove through on the highway of course so there wasn’t much hope but we did see some deer with whole crowds of cars stopped to watch them! We visited the Park Museum which had exhibits of the wildlife of the park – some like bears etc. stuffed, & fishes & frogs etc. in glass cases! Then we drove on through & arrived at our nearest small town, Minden, around 5 o’clock. We shopped for milk & bread & then after wandering around back roads for a while found the cottage. We are about 15 miles from Minden & are going in this afternoon to get meat & groceries for the weekend. The 2 children are so funny & different – if we lose the way in the car or walking Linda gets so agitated & upset & worried whereas Charlie gets all philosophical in adversity & tramps on cheerfully saying “Oh well if this isn’t right we’ll just have to go back!” I had brought a cold roast turkey with me & rolls & salad, so we had a nice supper all ready.
Mr. & Mrs. Knight are looking after Nicki for us. It worked out very conveniently as their daughter and her husband & 3 children were due back from Germany (with the Army) on the day after we left, & of course the Knights wanted to have them to stay while they looked for a house (they are now stationed in Ottawa), but Myrtle was being very difficult about it all. When I heard this I suggested giving the Knights our back door key & Mr. & Mrs. K. could come in & sleep in our Recreation Room each night & we loaned them the chaise also as a bed for one of the children, so they were overwhelmingly grateful & immediately suggested that they would look after Nicki. As Mrs. K says, the family might be with them a week or only a few days depending on how long before they get a house, but it will be pretty close quarters for them, & I said to let the children play on our swing & slide etc. as Myrtle has been so disagreeable they are determined they won’t set a step on her path even! We left food for Nicki & her bed in the washroom & if it rains the Knights will let her in our basement.
Since we arrived here we have only been on one expedition & that was to Gravenhurst in the Muskoka area where Auntie Lily & Uncle Milton are staying for their holidays. It is about 60 miles away & we drove over in the morning & had lunch & then back home in the late afternoon. Poor Charlie still doesn’t get on well in the car & the country around here – rather like Mill & Ford’s camp – all hills & winding roads & up & down etc. doesn’t suit him at all, so we are going to just enjoy the cottage and not drive around more than necessary as it bothers him so & the pills make him very dopey. His eczema is improving but not gone all together, but he seems in much better shape now & is eating well.
We are expecting the Moors this weekend – probably not till tomorrow morning. Merle has been attending a Course in Toronto & finishes today & Dixon has had a summer job marking exam papers, but it is finished too. Lorne has a job as a Life Guard at a swimming pool but he can get the weekend off & we hope Bruce will be home from Camp & come too. John has gone in the “Mission Field” for the summer, so we won’t see him. I don’t quite know what this means, but he has apparently gone somewhere in connection with the Church, but will let you know when I find out more.
Well, Lindy has just about finished the dishes, so we will be on our way to Minden soon & I had better stop & mail this. Charlie has learned to play Patience & is very engrossed in it. They both can row now. Must stop – big hugs from us all.
Much love

July 23 1956

Box 330 R.R.1 Ottawa

Mon. 23rd July

Dearest Mummy,
At last the long awaited letter! I don’t know how I puddle the time away these days! One thing is that the children are so keen on playing with Jimmy after dinner & Cec & I usually go out & mess in the garden, so that they are not in bed till much later; then when they are in bed after the story etc., I find that the evening is more or less gone! I have 2 funny stories about the children’s sayings – today Jimmy had his small cousin Glen (brother of the little Pauline I used to dislike) staying with him, so Linda called to Jimmy could she come over & play. Jimmy said yes, but Charlie said no he wasn’t going – Linda could go but he was staying, so Lindy & Jimmy got together & had a little talk & then Linda called “Come on – it’s all right Charlie – Glen’s face is clean today – you can come!” whereupon Charlie “Oh – is his face clean? Ogay! I’ll come!” Can you imagine Glen’s mother if she heard that? A few days ago at dinner Cec & I mentioned Miss Derouchie, the lady who now lives in Mrs. R’s apartment below the house. She is a “career girl” type you know – could be anything from 27 to 37, has her own car etc. & is very pleasant but with quite an opinion of herself! She has painted all through the apartment & bought new furniture & has it looking awfully nice now & is just the right person for Myrtle – can stand up to her & not let herself be bullied & yet not get mad! Anyway, she also has a boyfriend, in the Mounties who comes to see her frequently (not in uniform!) & when Cec & I were chatting at dinner this day Lindy suddenly said “We saw such a funny thing yesterday. Miss Derouchie was sitting in the car with her friend & she kissed him.” “Yes” said Charlie “They were gissing & gissing & gissing & we laughed”! It turned out that they with Jimmy had peeked around the corner this & thought it very amusing because they were just friends! [A bit of explanation here, in our defence. Story 1- Glen unfortunately had a permanently runny nose and no handkerchief. The result was unpleasant. Story 2- The boyfriend was an observant man, saw the children peeping, and said “Let’s give the kids a show!” So they did, and later told the parents about it with great amusement.]. There has apparently been no more buyers for the house & no one seems to think she will get the $21,000 she is asking – Ken says it cost her $14,000 – nice profit!
Ken & Dot were up this evening to see our new curtains – yes we were rash last week & finally bought what are called “matchstick bamboo drapes” for all our sitting room windows. We have been thinking about it for quite a while & had gone to see them in the store & had wondered whether we’d like them or not & at last we decided to get them as they cost us $43.00 for all the windows floor length & the cheapest curtain material would have cost us more than twice that & then all the making, tapes hooks etc. These were all ready to put up & we got them on Friday & Cec worked all evening & got them all up & now we are so pleased with them. They are the natural colour & go so nicely with our furniture & exactly match the palm leaf table mats! Cec moved the curtain rail along at the end of the room & curved it around the corner to join the front one, so that now there is a continuous sweep of curtain around the picture windows right to the bookcase & then again at the other front window in the alcove.

We think it looks so nice & are delighted with them & everyone else seems to think they look nice too. We also got a new floor lamp, a tri-light as we needed more light in that big room & it really does look pretty. My idea now is to use what was my curtain material to make a new loose cover for the big sofa. The old navy blue one is just about in holes it is so thin & I think the patterned cover would look nice. Next year I’d like to paint the room, although Cec shudders at the thought & I have in mind a pretty light coppery tone – we’ll see though!
We were really on the spree last week as we also bought a big new paddling pool for the children. It is really Linda’s birthday present, but it seems silly to wait & get it at the end of the summer, so we got it now & hope the weather will improve! It is oblong – about 6’6″×3’6″ & has steel bars to keep it rigid & little metal stools in each corner & is about a foot deep so Linda should have lots of fun in it – & we hope Charlie too eventually! Of course it has rained practically ever since we got it on Friday so it hasn’t had much use yet!
Saturday was to be the Lab. Picnic. Margie Bedard had it all arranged & everyone was to drive up to her parent’s cottage in the Gatineau [hills on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, with lots of small lakes with cottages] on Sat. afternoon & everything was beautifully organized so of course we got up on Sat. morning & it was pouring with rain! It rained & was dull & miserable all morning & everyone kept phoning saying what were we going to do until finally at mid-day Marge phoned down from the cottage to cancel it, but to say come Sunday- rain or shine! Cec decided to go back to the Lab. & the children were a bit disappointed at no picnic & a rainy day so I decided to drive Cec to work & then to take the children to the Museum which was a great treat! We spent 1 1/2 hrs. there which I thought was pretty good, looking at lots of stuffed animals & birds & Indian & Esqimaux things & we had a hasty trot through part of the Art Gallery & then we drove down to the Lord Elgin Hotel & had tea! It just poured all afternoon which in a way was nice as it would have been so maddening to have cancelled the picnic & then have the sun shine! We drove around to the Lab. to get Cec & found him working there with Santiago & a Prof. Crooker from Vancouver who is at the Lab. for the summer, so we brought them home for dinner. I had cold meat (ham, liverwurst, baloney & chicken) hot rice cooked with tomatoes & fresh peas, salad & hot buns, & then a bowl of fruit (peaches, apples, grapes & cherries) & brownies & gingerbread, so I think a good time was had by all! By the way the children insist on calling the Museum the “Muspiffam” & Charlie was telling me he heard one of the stuffed birds say “cheep”!!
On Sunday it was gray & dull, but at least it wasn’t raining so we got ready & set off straight after lunch. The place was about 25 miles up in the Gatineau & was very nice – not really too “cottage-y” as it was just outside a small village & had quite a big fenced in space around with the grass cut & chairs, tables etc. out on it. There was a big see-saw for the children & a horseshoe pitching game for the men – also they went & had a game of baseball in a field next door. The lake was about a 1/4 mile up the road & we went up & Lindy put on her bathing suit & splashed around & some of the others. Marge had gone to so much trouble – she had ice cream cones for the children & a big jug of cold fruit juice for everyone, then she made tea & coffee for when we ate & provided food for the bachelors – all the rest of us took our own food. Then she also had the children run little races & gave them little prizes. Charlie of course hung back but it was so nice to see Lindy – she wanted to be in everything & do what the others did & she ran in the races & played on the seesaw & had a wonderful time – sometimes looked a bit bewildered, but tried awfully hard! She got a little sandbox shovel & animal mould set for a prize & was very thrilled & when we had to go at about 8 o’clock she was so tired & yet didn’t want to go that she had quite a weep! However it was most successful & we all had a lovely time. Even Charlie ventured away from me & played with the children a bit & with his friend “Dr. Bolo” [Santiago Polo] so things are progressing!
Last Thursday we were invited to spend the evening with the newly married couple- the Dresslers – you remember we were at their wedding a while ago. They have a small semi- basement apartment in one of those big new buildings behind where we were on Acacia & it is very nice really. They have bought their furniture & are both quite arty-crafty types so have gone to a lot of trouble & made it very nice. One thing she has not only made the curtains but for the ones in the sitting room she bought plain cream linen & printed them with a lino cut design she made of the cathedral at Basle (their home) & the dragon of Basle crest which is very effective. We took the Moores (the N. Z. couple) & had a very pleasant evening. Susie, the girl had gone to so much trouble – made candies & stuffed dates & salted almonds etc. & then coffee with sandwiches & a fruit cream dessert.

Since we came home I seem to have been buying so many presents & sending so many parcels – very expensive! I sent Til & Lois a “thank you” parcel with Bader’s book (I talked about it to them); a box of English chocolates; & a pair of silk stockings (Til thought she’d try some silk as nylon hurts her feet). Then I sent Barbara Heslop a little pink & white cotton dress for her birthday & a pair of gold latex swimming trunks for Sandy for his – a bit early! I had missed Richard’s birthday while I was away so sent him a blue & white cotton suit & a little blue, white & yellow suit to the new baby. I got Lea’s new baby girl a little frilly sun suit & Darryl had his birthday just then so I got him a T-shirt & some candies, & then I went to see the Spanish girl & her new baby & took him a tiny white terrycloth suit too- Phew!
When I was down in the U.S. I got Margie (on sale!) a darling little quilted dressing gown for her baby – white with little flowers on, & she was so thrilled as she had none & had got literally dozens of tiny dresses. I also got Doreen Moore’s baby a wee white & red sun suit & she was very pleased. I got a few things for Carman & Leona down there too – a white blouse with lace insertions for Leona; a blue sports shirt for Carman; white bracelet & earrings; funny little wooden salt & pepper shakers; two lollipops – huge, with faces on etc. & had fun sending them a birthday parcel – Carman’s birthday is April & I don’t know Leona’s, but still! Oh, one more thing I got and sent was to Dottie. I hadn’t any idea what to send her as I imagine she would have household goods etc., so I got a really personal gift – a pair of scarlet nylon baby doll pyjamas!! They were the kind that have tiny panties & the top just comes down to cover them, so Cec thought they would be a source of amusement to both of them!

I don’t know if I told you about our shopping in Toledo – of course we didn’t do nearly as much as we intended – it was so hot & apart from the day Cec & I went in with the children I never actually got into the city again. However, we got shirts, underpants, & socks for Cec but didn’t get him a suit as we didn’t see anything we liked much. For the children I got winter jeans on sale which was nice & also socks, a slip for Lindy, T-shirts etc. & a very pretty little dress for Lindy to keep for school. It is cherry red with a white collar & cuffs – it is cotton & has a permanently pleated skirt & she is very pleased with it! We went into a booth & tried on 3 or 4 & she felt very grown-up!! For myself, I left it to the end of course & then in a great rush bought a blue & white cotton skirt & a pink blouse – neither very exciting, but just so that I would buy myself something!

Of course the shopping had to cross the border!

I am wearing them now – this morning Margie came in her car with the baby & Peter & collected me & the children & we went to Doreen Moore’s for coffee. Margie had lent (through me) Doreen a couple of her maternity dresses, so Doreen was returning them & we had a nice chat & saw the babies. Janey is a big baby & very sweet & fat & full of smiles. Little Paul is still a wee fellow & slept most of the time we were there. By the way, Cy is in Mexico for a week & Tommy & Danny are out in Sask. staying with Margie’s parents – Cy’s parents took them & will bring them back – so Margie is feeling very footloose.

We drove out to Carp a week or so back & had dinner with Lea & family. The baby was only about 4 weeks old & seems so tiny. She is sweet but has colic & cried a bit. We got the pram fixed for them – it cost $18 but looks like new when it was done, so it was worth it. The parish are certainly good to them – they had given them a new fridge & a washing machine previously & when Lea came home with the baby they had put in a new electric stove & re-painted & papered the kitchen!
I must stop as I have been writing this letter for 2 days. I know I haven’t answered some of your questions so I’ll try to keep on with the good work & write another long letter soon. Tonight Cec & I are going to a party at the Kleman’s – they are leaving for Sweden in less than a month & we will all be so sorry to see them go. Tomorrow is our anniversary & the Douglasses too, so we are joining together & asked the Klemans too & going out to dinner somewhere – frivolous us!
I hope that you had a nice time at Jean’s & that A. Trix has better news from Bill. Poor Janie with the T.B. scare – how are totally horrid – particularly just then – but thank goodness it was o.k. Hope you have a good news of A. Ettie – I must write this week.
The children send big, big hugs & kisses & lots & lots of love from us all – Will really write again soon

August 1955

In August, Cec and Cyn rented a cottage so that Grannie could enjoy the Canadian cottage experience- primitive facilities, ancient stoves and fridges, bedrooms with walls that stopped before the roof so that noise and mosquitoes could circulate, but outside peace and quiet with lovely views, sand, shallow to deep water, August heat, and a dock jutting into a big lake.

Linda liked the water.
Water Play!
Grannie must have found the Canadian lake a bit chillier than the Carribbean!
Budding scientist.
These toys were made of tin, which worked well in a sheltered sandbox, but rusted at the cottage. Can’t think why.
My nicest swimsuit.

Everyone enjoyed the cottage, but it was never much of a holiday for Cyn who had to cook under difficult circumstances, so we only did it every 3 years or so.

Round Lake August 1953

Once they were home from the holidays, and had the pictures developed, Cyn made a booklet for her mother to show her cottage life. She put her own photos in the scrapbook, continued to write her mother letters, Carman went back home to university, Cec stared working hard, and Carol, on receipt of the pictures, pasted them all in her own photo album featuring her grandchildren! It was a memorable holiday all round.

Summer in England 1953

Although Cyn and her friends in England were occupied with their growing families, they kept in touch. I am publishing only one side of Cyn’s correspondence with her mother here- but all of these women wrote to each other back and forth and it is hard to imagine the volume of correspondence Cyn generated in a year!

While Cyn was experiencing cottage country in Ontario, her friends in England were also on holiday with their children, and sent her pictures. Although some are wearing swimsuits as brief as the Costain children, somehow it looks a little bit colder. Cyn, Dottie, Mary Stewart, and Nan Heslop (Sandy’s mother) knew each other from Newcastle days.

Dottie & Peter Burton with Sandy.

Christopher was born in. Ottawa but is in England here.

Anne Winnick and Cyn were colleagues teaching in Cambridge before their marriages, and I assume Rosemary is another. Janita is Anne’s daughter, and Rosemary has another Charles!

I don’t know who these two are but they look sweet. Possibly this is from Newcastle, where there was another Bobby Sheedy, named for Cyn’s childhood. friend killed in the war.

I’m sure all the children had a happy summer so long ago!

August 27 1953- # 2



Dearest Mummy,

The children are having a simply wonderful time. Charlie’s appetite is about 3 times what it was at home & he just gobbles up all his solids which he didn’t bother about much before. He is pulling himself up to stand now & in his playpen & crib & sits up as straight as a little ramrod without support. He has no sense of caution at all – bumps himself & bangs his head & falls off things – even out of his crib!- & yells for a minute & then grins when you pick him up! Both he & Linda love the water. It is gloriously warm & to  begin with they both paddled & Lindy would walk in up to her waist. Then last weekend Cec got an old inner tube from one of the car tires blown up & we all have such fun with it. Linda gets in at & holds on with her arms & we push her or tow her all over- way out of her depth & even waves splashing in her face & she shrieks with laughter! We took Charlie right in for the first time yesterday and he splashed & kicked & was practically swimming – they both screamed their heads off when we made them come in! Barry loves the water too, but doesn’t like to go out beyond his waist even in the tire. Lee & Jim are a grand couple to share with & we are all getting on fine. The big drawback of the cottage is that it is only partitioned inside to about 7 or 8 ft. & curtains on the bedroom doorways, so if one child cries it disturbs everyone. Linda & Charlie just seem to take such short naps in the day & get tired & fretty, & we feel if we could just leave them in a closed off bedroom they would sleep longer.

The bedrooms are very small – we have Charlie’s cot in ours & the bed & about 6 ins. between. Lindy & Barry’s beds are “sofas” in the sitting room, so they go to bed in our rooms & then we transfer them at night. In the a.m. we usually do chores- dishes, beds, sweeping, washing etc. & in the p.m. the children sleep & we have a little rest, then play on the beach & bed, then dinner, children to bed – dishes – & bridge for us. I rinse diapers in the lake after boiling- makes it more interesting! We have a boat & go rowing -all are sunburnt (Cec red back!) & Linda has a little peeling nose!

Cec got us all big straw hats & Lindy looks a hoot in hers. We are taking lots of pictures to send you. Forgot to tell you, we have tame chipmunks too- they are so sweet & eat peanuts from our hands.

Lindy & Charlie send big xxxxs & lots of love from us all – Cyn.

August 27 1953

Round Lake. Thursday. About 27th (?) Aug! 

Dearest Mummy,

I am so sorry that I haven’t written for such a long time. I brought a whole scad of writing things up here & this is the first time I have even had my pen out! I sort of imagined myself sitting back with nothing to do but read & write while the children played contentedly in the sand by themselves, but of course it’s not a bit like that! However, it is a glorious place & we are having a lovely, lovely time, so what does it matter if we don’t have much “sitting back” time!

The lake is big – about 7 miles across & even longer I think- it reminds me of Ullswater or some of those in the Lake District & has one or 2 little islands in it. The nearest town is Pembroke 24 miles away & only one little store near her, so you have some idea how isolated it is, but the milkman calls 3 times a week which is nice. There are pine woods all round the lake & our cottage is built in the midst of them – then a sandy track (not really a road!) then the beach & lake. It reminds me of Millie’s & Ford’s camp, but being right on the lake it is even nicer & the cottages are spread out & mostly empty now, so we are very private. The cottage itself is adequate but not fancy – we have a wood stove for cooking & a pump over the sink & a little “house” up the hill! It has electricity though, & there is a beautiful fridge & lamps & a hot plate which is nice.

The weather on the whole has been perfect. We drove up on Sat. 15th & that night it got very cold – Cec & I sat under a blanket & huddled in front of a little electric radiator all evening! Next day Lee & Barry arrived (Cec went into Pembroke & got them from the train) & Jim didn’t come till Wed. as he had work to finish. Between Sun. and Wed. it was dull & cold, mostly, some days bright and sunny, although at night it was icy! However, we kept the stove on all day & it was all right although Charlie’s 6 a.m. feed was a chiller! After Wed. however it got warmer & warmer & is now around 85 – 90 in the day & just nice & cool at night. It was sweltering this morning but now a wind is blowing & the lake is all waves. Carman came up on Fri. evening & stayed till Mon. afternoon & enjoyed it thoroughly & on Sat. afternoon Joan Gallagan (the pretty girl who was Dr. H’s sec at N.R.C.) came with her sister Kitty (their home is in Pembroke). They brought corn & we had hot dogs & had a nice picnic & bathed & had fun. 

Costains & Ganders at the cottage: Cec, Linda on Cyn, Barry in front, Carman, Jim, & Lee holding Charlie.

I am going onto another A.M. as I haven’t told of what fun the children are having. 

Lots of love- Cyn.

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