August 24 1969: Western Holiday

In August, with Grannie Ewing visiting her nieces in New York on her way home, the Costains took their last family trip together, flying out west to meet family members- Uncle Harry Costain in Calgary, Granny and Grandpa Costain in Penticton, along with the whole Carman Costain family- and see the Rockies, the Okanagan, and Vancouver as they drove. At the end of their stay in Vancouver, Cec had flown off for a lengthy working trip to Australia and Cyn and Linda and Charlie had taken the train across Canada home to Ottawa. It was a three-day trip and the children did not enjoy it. Charlie was bored, and Linda not only ran out of reading matter, but found that inserting her new contact lenses in a moving train was nerve-wracking and challenging. Cyn enjoyed the rest, and wrote to her mother the week after they returned.

We ate in Calgary’s Husky Tower, built for the Centennial!

49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ontario.

24th August, 1969

Dearest Mummy,
Here we have been home for over a week and this is the first time I have managed to write to you – or even to Penticton to say thank you for having us. First of all, we stepped out of the air conditioned train into typical hot humid Ottawa weather last week, and it was just breathless for 3 or 4 days, then on Monday we had most violent storms with pouring rain and the temp. went down to 45 one night! It was nice and cool for a couple of days and now it is back up in the 80s today, and I don’t feel at all ambitious!
The weather wasn’t the only surprise we got when we arrived in Ottawa – when we got home Merle phoned from Brantford to say that they were coming to Ottawa that weekend to a wedding, but if we couldn’t put them up they would go to a motel. Of course we said for them to come, so next day (Friday) we rushed around and bought some food and they arrived for dinner with little Debbie. Lorne and Liz were also invited to the wedding but couldn’t get away till later, so Merle and Dix brought Debbie and they would bring Cyndie when they came and stay with the Whitwills – Liz’s family. Charlie was back in your room, so we made up his bed in the family room for Debbie and Merle and Dix had the big pull-out sofa bed, so it worked out fine. The wedding was on the Sat. afternoon, and in the morning Lorne came for Debbie, and then they all went off to the wedding – I felt quite sorry for them all dressed up, as it was about 90 and so still and sticky, and the reception wasn’t even in some air-conditioned hotel, but in the garden of the bride’s family. Merle was exhausted when she came home! While they were away I had another phone call and this was Carman! He was at the airport, and although I knew he was coming to Ottawa sometime to a meeting I hadn’t bothered to even ask the date, as he said that he had a room booked at the Château Laurier, as he didn’t know when we would be back. However, it turned out that he had been another meeting in the US and when he phoned the Château the booking was from the Sunday not the Saturday so he came along too and we had a full house that night! It was nice that Merle and Dix and Carman got a chance to chat and as it was another hot night Charlie quite enjoyed sleeping on the porch! Next day we all went to the Whitwills to lunch, and then Merle and Dix set off home as Dix had to be at work next day. Carman had dinner with us and then I drove him downtown to his hotel, and then my goodness, when I got back didn’t the house feel strange and empty with no Cec! Before that we had really hardly had time to notice!
We had two postcards from Cec on Friday – one from Hawaii where he spent an hour (4–5am.) and another from Sydney, so we know that he has arrived safely. I was so glad as he tells me that Frank Mercer (his Australian friend from Cambridge) came to meet him at the airport because Cec had written to Frank and had no reply and I know he would have been disappointed not to see him. I don’t know if he was staying with the Mercers but it would make a big difference having a friend to show him the sights.

Beginning of the holiday- Calgary and Harry Costain.
The only Costains we DIDN’T see…

I feel that I should go back now and tell you what we did at the end of our holiday. I wrote from Penticton when we were staying with Granny and Granpa Costain, and then we moved over and spend 3 or 4 days with Leona and Carman. Their house is about 2 miles from Granpa’s and fortunately it is quite big as we were a big family! Penticton is quite a nice small town – very much a resort town with 2 big lakes for swimming etc. and lots of motels and tourists. It is in a valley with hills all around and they were absolutely burnt brown, but in the valley where they irrigate it was all green and lovely. It is in the middle of a famous fruit growing area, but unfortunately they had a very severe winter and all the fruit trees were harmed and there was very little fruit this summer – no peaches or apricots or cherries, but the apples were all right. Leona took her children for swimming lessons at one of the lakes every day, so Linda and Charlie got quite a lot of swimming, but unfortunately Linda got a bad cold, and so had to keep out of the water the last few days.

We left Penticton on the Thursday (7th.) and drove to Vancouver where Cec had booked a downtown motor hotel for us. It was very convenient and the first evening we walked down the street and found a very nice German restaurant where we had a marvellous dinner, so we thought we were very lucky. We were so fortunate in the weather in Vancouver – it was sunny and lovely all the time, although there was a haze over the mountains around the city, but apparently this is quite typical. I was quite taken with the weather in Penticton too – it was very hot and sunny during the day, but if you sat in the shade it feels lovely with a little breeze, and as soon as the sun went down in the evening it got really cool and you needed a sweater. I may tell you that I never once had my pretty white spotted raincoat out of the case, so weren’t we fortunate?
After dinner that first evening in Vancouver, Cec phoned a few people and I phoned Olwen Wright. Do you remember her? She was at College with Dottie and me and eventually married a boy in the Army called Noel. Anyway they now live in Vancouver, so I called and we had a chat and arranged for us to go out that evening for a drink. They live in a very pretty house with a stream running through the garden, but it was nearly dark when we arrived so we didn’t see much. I don’t know if I would have known them, as Olwen is now blonde and Noel is plumper, but we had quite fun catching up on news. Olwen has 3 children all older than mine – the oldest girl is married then a boy of 19 going to University and a girl a bit older than Linda still going to school. We didn’t see them as one sister was visiting the other and the boy has a job. Owen was telling me that she had had cancer, which I didn’t know, but she had had an operation and it had been OK for a few years now. She didn’t say where it was – anyway she was having a check up that weekend so was booked up with the Drs etc. and we didn’t see them again. It must be over 25 years since I saw her, so it really was interesting – they have bought land in Antigua and Dominica I think when they were there on a holiday a few years ago and are talking of moving there when their family is off their hands.
On the Friday we went up to the University of British Columbia where Cec had various people to see. It is a beautiful campus with lovely lawns and gardens and fountains in amongst the buildings. One of the Professors took us to lunch at the Faculty Club and then we went and sat for a while in a Japanese Garden while Cec saw some other people. Afterwards we went to a lovely park on an island in the harbour called Stanley Park where they have a Zoo and also a big aquarium where they have a big outdoor pool with a dolphin and a whale who give a show every few hours. It was fascinating, and the whale had the most amiable looking grin on his face and looked as if he were thoroughly enjoying it all!
That evening we went out to dinner to a ship anchored in the harbour which has a famous Seafood Buffet. They have a great big buffet table with over 58 different kinds of fish and various salads and things as well as all sorts of hot dishes on a hot table, and you can go back and back and eat as much as you want! Our only complaint was that our capacity wasn’t big enough as we would have liked to try even more, but what we did have was delicious. It was a lovely setting looking out of the water at the lights in the city and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next day we went across to Vancouver Island. I hadn’t realized that it was such a trip or that the island was so big, but the ferry took us about 4 hours. We arrived at Nanaimo and went north to a National Park where there are some wonderful old Douglas Fir trees some 800 years old and absolutely immense. We then had to drive back south through Nanaimo again and down to Victoria which is at the southern tip of the island.

It is a very pretty city with lovely gardens and lovely hanging baskets on all the lamp posts. We only had that evening to look around a little and then next morning we went to the Buchart Gardens which are very well known and absolutely beautiful. I sent you a folder of pictures of it and although the colours weren’t very good you would get some idea of how lovely it was. We had lunch there, and then went and took a different ferry back to Vancouver. That evening we went to dinner in Chinatown and had the best Chinese dinner I have ever had. Even Linda tried the Chinese food and enjoyed it and Cec was amazed when we got the bill that it came to less than 2 dollars each! We had been sent there by a friend of Cec’s in Vancouver and it was definitely a place for Chinese to eat and not a tourist trap, so we did very well and enjoyed it very much.

Next morning, Monday 11th, we got up early and all went with Cec to the airport and saw him off on the plane to San Francisco at 8am. We had handed over the car the previous night, so we took the bus back to the motel and had a rest and packed and then took a taxi to the station and left our bags. The train wasn’t till 7:30pm so we had lunch and shopped and went and sat in Stanley Park, then had something else to eat before we went back to the station. We had three berths and I thought the trip was quite fun but Linda and Charlie were bored stiff! Charlie couldn’t read because of the motion, so he played patience, and of course we had two dome cars and could go and look at the scenery, but as Linda says, the scenery in Canada goes on for so long! Linda and I enjoyed the meals and I definitely felt stuffed, but Charlie wasn’t very hungry so they were very glad when the 3 days and 3 nights were over! As for me it was a nice interlude before picking up the daily cares at home, and I enjoyed it!

We found our pussycat very well and plump as usual and Beulah had looked after everything beautifully. We have loads of lovely tomatoes and corn, but of course the veg. garden is covered in weeds and although I have worked at it on and off I haven’t begun to make an impression yet. You’ll be glad to hear that the seeds you planted – the phlox – have come up and I have a few sweet peas and some morning glories. The nasturtiums are doing well and the sweet little groundhog hasn’t touched anything but is getting bigger and fatter on apples dropping off the trees. He sits up and eats them and throws the cores away just like any other person and doesn’t seem to have touched the garden.
From all you told me you must have had a lovely time with Mill and Ford and I enjoyed getting your two letters and hearing all about what you were doing. I am glad that you bought a hat and another dress or two and it sounds as if Ford had taken you to some very nice places. You will be going down to Long Beach this weekend and I hope that Monie and Owen had a nice weekend at Camp and that Marga’s leg is better. I know you will be sorry to leave Mill and Ford but you will enjoy being with the Banners and Jaegers too. Please give them all our love.
Of course I have been hopping with the Nursery School all this past week – all the parents are phoning, and I am buying supplies and Charlie is painting some of the outdoor equipment and Marjorie and I have been repainting some of the indoor furniture, so we have been busy. Linda’s birthday was on Friday too and Cec and I gave her a suede jacket and a dressing gown and slippers while Charlie gave her a nice little alarm clock. She got various things from her friends but will probably be writing to tell you all about it. We asked Carman to dinner to make it more of an occasion and he really hit the spot by arriving with long stemmed red roses in a big florist box for her!
And I must stop now and get to bed. Charlie has gone to the Exhibition (big annual Agricultural Fair + Grandstand Show + Midway) with some of his friends so I don’t know when he will be home. I don’t envy him in the dusty paths amongst the crowds on this hot night!
Much love to the Banners and Jaegers from us all and lots for you too

This letter may have arrived after Carol had gone on to Long Beach, or even back home in St.Vincent, because written on the bottom of the letter is a note from one of the nieces:

Carol dear –
Your letter arrived. So glad to hear from you. Come back soon again. I wish I was in nice, warm green St. Vincent! Love M.

August 29 1968

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

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

Christie Lake Thurs. 29th Aug.

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

Postmarked in Perth, Ontario.

Travel Diary: July 1967


It is interesting to compare this Travel Diary I wrote at the age of 15 with the one my grandmother wrote when she was sent to school in England at about the same age, and with the one my mother wrote in her 20s the summer before the 2nd World War began when she and her mother visited New York. [These have already been published in this project.]. Although all three of us recorded the events and sights we saw without including much introspection, I can’t help feeling I was the most at ease, having fun on holiday. I had a purpose, an audience if you like, since I had decided to send my account to my grandmother as an extended letter, so I certainly included opinions, but didn’t have room for detailed critiques. Carol’s journal covers her years at school so starts off as a personal account, but later events or sights seem to have been partially school assignments, since some sections have corrections. My mother’s was a personal record for her eyes only, to remind herself of what she saw at the World’s Fair, and sightseeing in New York and Niagara, but doesn’t contain much about the people she interacted with, her relatives and the friends she made on the ship. I suppose she would not have needed a reminder of them, although her account of the love interest at the end showed emotion- but had a measured, somewhat distant tone- written by someone a decade older than the teenagers perhaps, in a generation fully conscious of what they were facing although she made no mention of the impending war.
Linda was enjoying a holiday with her family in the country she had heard and read about her entire childhood- the child of an immigrant feels a certain connexion to the original home country, even if she doesn’t realize it. I remember flying over the countryside while landing and looking at the fields and roads so irregular and curving, unlike the straight lines of sectioned farmland in Ontario. As we flew low, then drove through London, the roofs of buildings were so eye-catching to us with the chimney pots (although we had read Mary Poppins and sneered at the Dick van Dyck character’s horrible accent as he danced on the rooftops.) And visiting friends, their gardens were different too, lovely, and the local roads with hedges and curves, all memorable, but not what got written down. The Travel Log had prompts at the top of the pages, but Linda started recording ‘My Travels Day by Day’, telling Grannie halfway through to ignore the headings which had changed to ‘Shops Here and There’ and ‘To Be Recommended’ and just carried on until space required summarizing. It was not all written on the road, and seems to have been finished and sent quite a bit later, judging by the accompanying letter, but gives a clear picture of a lovely holiday.

Letter- originally taped to the booklet.

Dear Grannie,
Take a deep breath, put on your best glasses, then firmly open the book and start reading “My Trip to England” by Linda Costain, fifty two pages of my terrible handwriting. I loved writing it and I am so sorry I’ve been such an age about it. I hope you’ll be able to read it and that you like it after you’ve read it. It is sort of an extended letter, written mostly remembering. I’ll write a proper letter soon, answering your last. The only things I want to say now are: 1. Please keep that sweet little cat you described, it will be company for your puppy, please, please keep it. and 2. I was so sorry to hear about Uncle Fred, I hope he gets better, quite often people do. Give him my love. 3. I am running out of space again.
Love Linda

July 23 1962 Part 2

This is the second half of Cyn’s letter to Carol from their Michigan holiday cottage. She has brought all her mother’s letters with her and is catching up on answering her questions. The first thing she seems to be dealing with is a compliment, because Carol seems to be asking her to make a hat to match a wedding outfit- which unfortunately is hard to do when you are isolated in cottage country without a car! Carol, living on an island with limited shopping opportunities, (just like I do now) often has commissions for Cyn to fulfill- mostly batteries for her hearing aids, but sometimes things more difficult to find. However, Cyn discusses friends and relatives they both have been writing about, alludes to unknown people and events, gives her opinions about divorce, and lays out plans for family celebrations- as well as that night’s dinner!

… I just opened your last letter to answer it and Lindy saw the piece of material of your dress and thinks that it is very pretty. I don’t know if I will have much luck with getting flowers or a shape here – with being so far from Ann Arbor I haven’t had a chance to even look at the shops there yet and if I wait till I get home I don’t know if it will be in time for the wedding. I had thought that I might go into Detroit for a day’s shopping and Mary Jo and I had discussed my leaving the children at her house for Jody to look after one day and she and I going for a day, but what with Lindy and Cec not being well, and the difficulty of planning with all her big family, we haven’t said anything more and I think I will content myself with shopping in Ann Arbor when we are in there at the Motel. Cec and I have suddenly remembered that it is our 13th wedding anniversary on Thursday – with being away from home the days are all muddled up – but I think we will just have a nice dinner here at the cottage and then have a dinner out at the weekend when we would be eating in a restaurant anyway. One day when we were in Ann Arbor we had lunch at The Pancake House – they serve all sorts of pancakes and waffles and on the table there is a whole assortment of syrups and fruits to go on them and you can just help yourselves! Anyway, to return to our wedding anniversary, we plan to get ourselves an electric frying pan – everyone who has one says they are a wonderful help, so I thought I would like one and as they cost much less down here it would be nice to get it for our anniversary. Of course thanks to old Diefenbaker and his monetary policy our dollar is at a discount now and we only get 92¢ for each dollar!
You asking your letter about Til and Lois – Til is your age I think and she retired a few years ago, but Lois is much younger and she is Physical Education Supervisor for the city of Toledo now and is doing a wonderful job. You also ask about the trip down and how Charlie got on – he seems to be getting over the car sickness now and I didn’t give him any pills this time. When we went down to Merle’s at Easter he felt queasy once or twice so I gave them to him then, but he gets so dopey and sleepy for such a long time if he takes them and he loses his appetite too, so that the trip is no fun for him. However this time he was O.K. – I think it is just if he is too hot or too tired or too excited that it sets him off. I know perfectly well that Cec would pour scorn on the chain idea and wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. Anyway can you imagine the jangle jangle all the time and how nerve-wracking it would be? Charlie, by the way stays in the water for hours now with no ill effects at all – mind you, the water is shallow and very nice and warm most of the time but isn’t it a change?
You will be getting all excited about the Consecration of your Bishop on Wed. and I hope your tickets for the cathedral have arrived. I certainly think you and A. Muriel should have tickets if anyone does. I am glad that your Plant Sale was a success and that the rain held off at the crucial moment. I hope that it will do the same on Wed. and not wash all the clergy out to sea!
I am glad that the batteries arrived quickly and I hope that Ena’s mother tries it anyway. I hope that the white dress will appear soon and that you will find it useful. I was thinking of suggesting that you wear some red with the white dress, but I can’t say that I think a big red hat like Peggy’s would be your style! I can’t somehow imagine Peggy in it either, particularly if her dress is red too, but red never was a favourite colour of mine anyway. By now I wonder if Peggy has had her baby – I am sure that she will be very glad to have it over and I hope that they get the boy that they are wanting. I have got a box of funny cocktail napkins for her which I will send in a parcel to you sometime. They are cartoons of a little ‘embryo’ baby called Egbert which I thought would be appropriate to Peggy at the moment and would amuse her. A. Muriel will think they are rather disgusting and I will admit that they are very indelicate, but also very funny!

We were very pleased to hear of Hugh and Ginny’s Coming Event and hope that all goes well and that they don’t produce twins too! A pity little Mona has such trouble adding to her family when she is so keen, but they have a lot of time yet.
I am now answering another of your old letters and I find another question about the children’s swimming, so forgive me if I go back to it once more. You ask if the children always went to the Château for swimming lessons, but last year they both went to the YWCA which just has a small swimming pool and it’s over near where we went to that Lab. to have your blood tests etc. done. Those lessons were in classes of about 12 children or so and although they were good in that they taught the children to get used to the water and so on, the lessons at the Château are much better as the man gives them individual lessons and is very good with them. It costs a lot more too, $15 for 10 lessons (I had Lindy and Charlie share 5 lessons each), but it costs $.50 just to go in for a swim or 1 dollar after 4 o’clock for children, so it isn’t really too bad, and as I say the man is very good. The swimming pool is lovely with the most luxurious balcony for us mamas to sit and deck chairs with sun lamps etc. around the pool. I wouldn’t mind having a swim there myself but I was always busy rushing out and putting money in the parking metre and doing the odd bit of shopping. Also I am a Pudding in my bathing suit now!
You asked if I heard from Hugh and Lee Brown this Christmas and yes, we did. They are still in the States – in Washington I think – and the note was mostly about Jim, their son, who is through Harvard now and has gone into the Army also. [They had met Hugh when the Americans were posted to Newcastle during the war.] You were asking about snaps, but I don’t think that I have any more of last summer. We had some at Christmas and when I get home I will see if I can find them and get some prints. Linda and Charlie both have their cameras here, but they don’t take pictures of each other much. Lindy was a page in her Ballet Recital this year and had black tights, a royal blue tunic white blouse and big blue beret-style hat with a yellow feather. We didn’t take a picture, I don’t think but maybe when we get home she would like to dress up one day and we will get some snaps.
You were asking about Lindy’s birthday in your letter but I think that by the time you get this you will probably have done without my help. She isn’t too keen on material – you know it is hard for her to be enthusiastic over something she can’t put on right away, and I am afraid Mamma is not very quick about making it up. She would love a book I know, but it is hard to know what she has read. She has read most of the Children’s Classics by now, but she is very keen on all sorts of girls school stories, or girls annuals or that type of thing. Do you remember my Chalet School stories? She just loves those, so I know would be very happy with something in that line. I don’t know if sometime you would like to send her a little writing case – one of those small ones with a zip around. Not that she writes many letters but she is at the age where something like that appeals I think. I don’t know if sometime you might like to send the children a subscription to an English children’s monthly magazine. Mind you, I don’t know if if there is such a thing, but I thought some of the English people you know might know something about them, and I know the children would enjoy it. Til and Lois send them the Children’s Digest and they get a big kick out of getting it each month.
Thank you for telling me the latest news about my Father. I am glad that he is so much better than the last report and as you say it is a big relief to have kind Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie there to tell you the real truth. When you write please remember me to them – I always meant to write, but I don’t think that I ever did.
You ask about our croton plant – well the poor thing, the Canadian sun just about finished it! Just after we put it out we had a very hot dry spell, and although I tried to water it a bit it just collapsed entirely, and all the leaves fell off! I thought that it was finished but we had some good rain storms during June and just before we left we saw some little sprouts showing, so perhaps by the time we come home it will be all leafy again. Do you remember my patience flowers [Impatiens] which I had in the house and then put out along the wall at the back of the house? They were an orangy-red colour, and then in Greenfield Village in one of the gardens I saw a whole bed of every colour imaginable – my salmon pink, purple, magenta, ordinary pink, white, and even a white with some pink shading. I would have loved to take a few surreptitiously cuttings and put them in my bag and bring them home!
You were asking about our Rector, Mr. Pulker the other day. He is very nice, but he is so different to Mr. Bowen that it is funny. He doesn’t have any of Mr. Bowen’s friendly charm – in fact he is one of those people who is very difficult to get to know – and unlike Mr. Bowen he doesn’t preach much of a sermon, but he does keep it short! Not that Mr. B’s were long, but he was so good that you had to listen to his sermons whereas Mr. P.’s you sometimes have to make yourself listen to his sermon! Also Mr. Bowen was very impractical and couldn’t care less about the business side of the church and also thought women’s organizations were so much waste of time, whereas Mr. Pulker is very practical and businesslike and is most interested and helpful with the Guild. He is much easier to work with for me and has really taken a big interest in the Guild and although he is not one for playing fulsome compliments he says he thinks that the Guild has excellent leadership. [Cyn is President.] The biggest contrast is his wife – she is a little dark woman full of high spirits and very down to earth and talk about tact – she doesn’t know what the word means! She says what she thinks and if she puts her big fat foot in it, it is just too bad! At first we were all rather amazed, but she is very likeable and we all like them both now. They are very hard workers, and have been to all our meetings and Mrs. P. has sung in the Choir and has begun a Children’s Choir. We hear that she is to teach the Singing at Fairfield School this year and we are very pleased as she is very good we think, and Linda who had her in the Junior Choir likes her very much.
In one of your last letters you enclosed a blank check, but you didn’t say anything about what you wanted me to do with it so I will keep it until you write and tell me what you want – don’t forget. [In handwriting at the bottom of the page with an arrow: Is it for your shoes? Must tell me the number etc.]
I don’t think that I have ever remarked on the news you sent me about Bebe’s impending divorce, although Cec and I had a good talk over it. I am very sorry as from what you say he seems a very nice person, but both Cec and I think living so close to Marie and so much in her pocket would be enough to send any man crazy. I can’t help feeling that Bebe was asking for it particularly if he didn’t care about horses and she was so mad over them, but it is a big pity because I can’t see how the little boys will be able to grow up normally with a grandmother like Marie and no Father to counteract. Then there was the news of Hazell Ann and her love-life and I must say that it seems a great pity for the poor girl. Of course I am amazed how her mother and grandmother pass all the poor child’s affairs around to the whole family, while it seems to me that the less said the better, but I suppose that is how it is. I can’t help but think that broken marriages breed more – here is Uncle Fred and Aunt Mil, then Jean and Dick, and now their daughter running into the inverse side of the same trouble. The same thing is happening with Til’s son Bill – his son by his first marriage is in the U.S. Army in Germany – married some little High School girl he had just met, they had a baby and now they are separated. It seems to me that the child of a broken home must unconsciously not feel the same about marriage because the same thing seems to happen to them so often.
I have always meant to mention your dress size, as you said Monie was telling you to get a half size as they were shorter waisted, but I don’t think they will suit you very well as they are made for little fat women! Even I tried on one and as it had a straight skirt the skirt fitted over my fat seat fine, but the shoulders were much too broad and the bosom just sagged! You will have to see how this house dress Monie sent you fits, but I think it is easier for you to get a 12 and alter the waist than to have to begin bothering about shoulders and bosom.
I have just been out to the kitchen and discover to my horror that it is nearly 5 o’clock. It has been dull and rainy and thundery all day and I have just sat and read your letters and typed all day long! My fingers are quite sore so I had better stop and get some dinner ready. I did get some lunch but Charlie washed the breakfast dishes and Lindy the lunch dishes so apart from making the beds I have spent all day writing to you – this is to make up for all the times I should have written and didn’t! It looks as if we are going to have our little wood stove going tonight but that is rather fun and keeps us all occupied! Pete and Mary Jo lent us a small outdoor barbecue so we have cooked quite a lot of our dinners outside and it has been quite fun – we even graduated from hot dogs and hamburgers to chicken and spareribs and Cec says that he is getting used to that burnt charcoal flavour!
Must stop – the children send big hugs and love – love to A. Muriel from us all. Is Doris back from her holiday yet? Hope that she had a nice rest.
Lots of love

P. S. Had a letter from Jane the other day telling me of my godson’s confirmation- feel I must do something about it but don’t know what. You asked about Linda – don’t know if she will be confirmed this coming year or not – some Rectors like to confirm them very young & some like to wait until they are in their teens, so I think Lindy could easily wait till she is 12.

And I did: December 1963 !

The holiday ended with the return to Canada and fun for the Costains in Stratford, seeing a Shakespeae Play and G.& S.’s Gondoliers, before visiting their favourite relatives in Brantford. Back home, ordinary life started up again with Linda’s birthday in August, and Cyn’s Guild activities and the school Fall Term. There are no letters to cover this period, but photos of the highlights will have to do.

July 23 1962

I have divided this letter into two because it is so long and deals with quite separate matters- the Costains on their Michigan holiday, and then Cyn answering her mother’s questions of the last few months of letters which she has saved up. (I shall put the pictures of the end of their holiday with the second half, since there are no letters to follow to explain how it went.) But before the letter, here is a quick review of Cyn’s life already covered by letters from the post-war years 1946- 1951, to explain some of the American friends the letter mentions.
Towards the end of the war, Cyn had changed teaching jobs and left her parents’ house in Newcastle where she had been stuck for the war years, and moved south to Cambridge. She enjoyed living independently and in 1946 took on a greater adventure by being part of a teacher exchange between American and British teachers designed to foster greater co-operation in the English-Speaking Union. Cyn was sent to Toledo, Ohio, where she taught high school Home Economics for a year, and also spoke to clubs and meetings, very successfully, about whatever aspects of British life her hosts or hostesses wished to hear! She was lucky enough to find a very happy home that year boarding with two other teachers, Til and Lois, who involved her with their families- Til’s adult son Bill, Lois’ sisters who lived locally- and took her with them on holiday with other relatives so that she saw a bit more of America. Her enjoyment of that year comes through in her letters home to Carol, but she was also happy to return to Cambridge for the following school year, where her mother joined her. They both met Cec who was doing his PhD. there, and Cec and Cyn married in 1949, with the intention of following Cec’s professor, Dr. Gordon Sutherland, to the University of Michigan for a couple of years before settling in Canada. Their stay in Ann Arbor was part of a transitory community- graduate students like Cec finishing and moving on, Cyn’s fellow workers at the University marrying or having babies and stopping work- but they were able to keep in touch with the ones who worked at the university and with Til and Lois, and made friends within academic circles that persisted as careers took off and families grew and grew up, because they met up over the years at conferences or during temporary work arrangements, such as Cec’s months work at the University of Michigan in July 1962. Back when the children were 3 and 4, the Costains had visited the States just as the Sutherlands were moving back to England, and also had stayed with Til and Lois while Cec attended the Spectroscopy Conference in Columbus, so it is not surprising that their friends thought Linda and Charlie had changed in the 6 years since then!

Portage Lake,

23 July, 1962.

Dearest Mamma,
Here I am sitting on the porch typing away – it is Monday morning and it is quite grey and cloudy and looks as if it is going to be a storm and we can hear thunder rumbling around in the distance. We have had quite a lot of thunderstorms in the last few days but they are not as spectacular as the Ottawa Valley ones and they pass over very quickly, but the weather has been very changeable.
Charlie has been having fun with a boy who lives a few cottages down. They have been getting bait for fishing, looking under stones for ‘crawdads’ and catching little minnows and catfish with a little net. Now he has gone home and some little girls from the next cottage have come over and Linda is sitting on the steps colouring books with them. The neighbours are very nice and friendly – I think I told you we had a nice family with a little 5 year old boy in the cottage next to us. Well, they were here for 2 weeks and were extremely kind and took me shopping into Pinckney etc., then we now have another family with 3 little girls – Kathy 8, Susie 5, and Carol 4, and they have a baby boy, Billy 1. Besides the mother and father there is a Grannie and Grandpa so they have quite a family not to mention all sorts of relatives with lots of children every few days, but they are nice too and have offered to take me shopping etc. The father is a great fisherman and goes out night and day, but he doesn’t have much luck – Cec and Charlie have been out a few times but they don’t do much either – Charlie caught a little one but put it back as it was so small! On the other side the cottage is owned by a man and his family from Ann Arbor, so they were only out for a few hours at a time to begin with but last week they came out for a while and we have had a few chats with them. They only have one boy of 14 and he is always dashing around in one of their two motor boats – the father took us out for a ride in one on Sat. and we went all around the lake and saw parts we didn’t know existed. It was quite blowy and we bounced around and got water splashed on us much to Charlie’s amusement!
The thunder is really on top of us now and it is pouring, so the children have moved in and are colouring happily. It is nice that there is someone to play with as Linda has run out of her stock of books and Charlie is getting bored with Patience! Cec has begun to teach them to play Bridge but as he is in at the University all day we can’t do as we did at Mill and Ford’s camp and play all day. Since I last wrote the time seems to have melted away and we can hardly believe that this is our last week here. We will leave here on Sat. morning but Cec thinks he will need a few more days at the University so we will probably go to a Motel until Tues. morning and then go straight to Stratford as we see ‘The Tempest’ on the Tues. night. On Wed. we see the matinee of ‘The Gondoliers’ and then we will go and spend that night with Merle and a couple of days in Toronto and home on Friday. The Klemans go to a cottage for two weeks.
We had a letter from Gudrun and all goes well at 2043 Montreal Rd. and Nicki seems quite happy and is presenting them with dead mice as usual! Thank you so much for your letters which Gudrun forwarded to me and also for the one which you sent to the Physics Dept. here. I was so sorry to hear about your poor little dog being killed. I know how much you will miss him and how sad you would feel to have him killed so suddenly when he was still so young and enjoying life. I hope that after a while that you will get another puppy for companionship and also as it is so useful for you to have a watchdog. At first though I know you can’t bear the thought of having one for a while. We are surrounded with dogs here and the favourite is a great big Basset Hound called Shorty. His legs are so small that he practically touches the ground but he is as solid as a rock and weighs about as much as I do. To see Charlie trying to move him is quite a sight, but he is very good-natured and doesn’t seem to mind how much he is pushed and shoved!
Not long after I last wrote we had some bad luck. Linda got a sore throat and an ear infection, and so she hasn’t been able to have as much fun in the water as the first week. She had one really bad night of earache and the next day I kept her in bed here on the porch and gave her aspirins etc. and after that she didn’t seem ill although the ear was still aching a little, so we let her get in the water but not put her head under (she wears a cap and protector band of towelling underneath but still her hair gets wet) and that was all right until suddenly last week it began to ache again, so she was out of the water for a couple more days and is so disgusted over it. It seems nearly better now so maybe she could go in for a little today, but it is such a pity as she loves the water so much and had such a wonderful time in it. Just after Linda’s ear ache began poor Cec woke up one morning with an eye infection and all his left eye swollen up. He gets this every so often if you remember and if he doesn’t do something about it, at once it spreads to his other eye, so he went to Pete’s Dr in Ann Arbor and got various drops etc. but it wasn’t until he gave him some antibiotics that it cleared up. Told him he was working too hard and should have a rest. He seems quite all right now, but the weekend before last he was feeling pretty miserable. Charlie and I have kept well and full of high spirits, and it is really lovely to see Charlie so well and happy. He is so good-natured and helpful and sunny and he has such a wonderful time in the water now – you wouldn’t recognize the boy who sees how long he can swim underwater and dives through my legs etc. as the little fellow you used to know!
We have been socializing a little bit as well as swimming around in our lake, and the first time we went out was to Mary and Arthur Dockrill’s for dinner. They have a nice new house in a new suburb of Ann Arbor, but not just a field with a lot of little houses in it but all trees, and winding roads and little hills etc. very pretty. Arthur is a real wizard with his hands you know, and he has fixed up their basement beautifully and they have everything very nice. Their one little girl Jill, is 4, and she is a little pet. She is small and has two little brown pigtails and speaks in a very English way in a funny little high voice. Linda loved her and both the children were fascinated because she had just about every toy going – Charlie said “I think Jill has everything!” We had a nice dinner and a really pleasant time, but we haven’t seen them since as they were going on their holiday at the end of that week. They had a Volkswagen bus like Hugh and Ginny and Arthur had fixed it up like a caravan with bunks etc. and they were going up into the Upper Michigan Peninsula.
Last week our big excitement was that we had a letter from Til saying that they would come up on the Wed. so we were very pleased. They arrived just after lunch – Til and Lois, Lois’ sister Ruth and the granddaughter from Florida, Cathie. Til and Lois and Ruth all look just the same and we had a wonderful time catching up on all the news of people I knew. They said I looked the same too and I said “Fatter though!” but they were kind! They were amazed at how the children had grown, but Cathie who is 11, made them look like little shrimps! She is a really big girl – big bones and then quite chubby too, and I think Til had quite intimidated her by telling her not to be wild and hoydenish as Linda and Charlie were so well behaved! All the Americans think Linda and Charlie are so good! However, after Cathie had got over her alarm she and the children had a good time in the water, and although she is full of bounce and quite exuberant she is not sophisticated and blasé which poor Til and Lois were quite worried about. But poor kid, what a life she leads – the mother is apparently no good and her own parents threw her out when she walked out on Bill, but fortunately the grandparents have Cathie most of the time, and they are nice people, but the little girl is chopped and changed from one to the other. Of course I was very interested to hear what they all thought about Bill’s marriage to Lois and Ruth’s sister Mary, because they all thought so much of Mary and so little of Bill – even Tilda, his mother! – but apparently although they were all shattered to begin with and tried in all ways to talk Mary out of it, she went ahead and married him and they are very happy – in fact, according to Til they are so in love it is rather nauseating! Cec and I roared as this is such a Til-ish remark. Cec came home a bit early from the University so he had a chance to chat too, and they brought all sorts of things to eat, so I had very little to do. They told me in the letter that they would bring corn and a ham, so I had rolls and made a potato salad and bought a coconut cake and had raspberries and cream, but they brought no less than 3 doz. ears of corn and two huge melons as well as the ham and jars of applesauce etc. so we had quite a feast. Til is taking Cathie down to see C’Zelma’s in Kentucky for a while this week so we won’t see them again but it was such fun to get the chance of meeting once more and we had as good a time as ever!

Do you remember when I was in Toledo some of the teachers took me on a trip one day up to Dearborn, near Detroit where we went to a museum which Henry Ford had made, and while we were there we saw him? He was in a wheelchair going around his museum, and he actually died not many months later, but I was always pleased that I had seen such a famous person. Anyway as well as this museum there is a Village – Greenfield Village, in which Ford collected and had set up the homes of all sorts of famous American people as well as all sorts of little shops and crafts which they used to have in the pioneer days. Thomas Edison was one of his best friends, and he has the house he was born in and all the original furniture and then all Edison’s Lab. and also the same for the Wright brothers and Stephen Foster and all sorts of other famous Americans as well as the house he himself was born in. It is all set out like a little old-fashioned village with brick streets and sidewalks and horsedrawn carriages and ducks and geese and peacocks wandering about, and a windmill and a forge with a blacksmith and beautiful old trees and lovely gardens for all the houses. I forgot to say that Mary Jo took us – we went into Ann Arbor with Cec in the morning on Friday and he dropped us off at the Peters’ house and then after a while everyone was collected and we set off in their station wagon. One of their boys was at camp, but there was Mary Jo and me, Linda and Charlie, Jody and Helen each with a girl of the same age, Vinnie and Terry – 10 of us! Mary Jo and the older girls have been before but none of the rest, so it was great fun, and it was a grey dullish day inclined to rain so we weren’t sorry to leave the cottage. We got there around 11, and they give you a map telling you which each house is and suggesting a route, and then in each place they have a girl who tells you some of the history of that particular house and shows you around. We were lucky and got ahead of the main crowd, but actually it is so big that you never feel you are in a mass of people. We had lunch in the Village Inn and we were amused as they said something about old-style American food, and it was cafeteria style and we had things like tuna fish sandwiches and potato chips! There was an old village shop and postoffice, and the children loved the forge where the blacksmith was making horseshoes and rings out of horseshoe nails! We also saw a silk mill with silk worms, a pottery and a glass blowing place, but during this time it had been getting very dark and thundery and suddenly it began to pour and we had to make a rush for the nearest building. This turned out to be a very dreary place with a lot of machinery in it so after staying there about 20 minutes or so while it poured down we decided to try and dash for the next building and of course we all got soaking wet! Eventually they sent around buses to take people back to the main gate, and as it was after 4 and we were all wet we decided to give the museum a miss and go home. We went back to the Peters’ house and Pete and Cec came and we had dinner there and eventually got home around 9 o’clock – we were tired!

Linda got some dry shoes and socks at the Peters that night, but yesterday she did better still. Dr. and Mrs. Hecht from the Physics Dept. live quite near here, in fact he is the one who helped Cec get this cottage and he has been very kind about driving Cec in once in a while to let me have the car. Yesterday they invited us to dinner and came over around 3 to show us the way. They live in a most fascinating house away off in the woods. A man had this as his summer place previously and built up the land around which a little river loops, and then built a bridge, cleared the undergrowth, built the house and made beautiful stone fireplaces inside the cottage and outside for outdoor meals and even dammed the little river to make a swimming pool in one place. The Hechts live there all year round and love it, and have added a furnace and a few improvements, but are thinking they must move into Ann Arbor soon as their little girl Liz, is six and they have the school problem. It wasn’t a good day for us to see it as it was quite dull and thundering and rainy which made it very dark with all the trees around, but it cleared up enough for Ted and Cec to cook our steaks on the outside fireplace although we ate inside – the mosquitoes were wicked. While this was going on Linda and Liz went to the little river where Liz had a small plastic boat and after a little while what should appear but two dripping wet little girls – the boat had tipped up and landed them in the water! They were both giggling and we couldn’t help laughing as they looked so funny but they were well and truly soaked. Fortunately, with a squeeze Linda could get into some of Liz’s clothes, and we had brought her an extra pair of shoes along, so she was all right, but we are making quite a collection of clothes here. I laughed at Lindy afterwards, she said to me with a funny little grin, “My dignity was hurt!” This reminds me of a remark of Charlie’s that amused me – not long after we got here one day we were all sitting on the porch reading except Charlie, and he kept making remarks until finally Cec said “Why don’t you stop chatting and get something to read?” at which Charlie replied “Oh I pride myself on being a brilliant conversationalist you know!” Apparently this is a quotation from one of his comics, but the way he brought it out just made us roar with laughter.
This week I don’t know if we will be doing anything much – I wrote to Mrs. Pasquier in Toledo and told her we were here and asked if she and her husband could come up one day, but they might be away for all I know, or they might not care for such a long drive. We usually have the car one day each week and we go into Dexter to the Coinwash and into Ann Arbor to the Library and any other shopping. The Peters lent us their Library tickets so we have been doing quite well, but Linda of course finishes her 4 books in the first day or so, but she doesn’t get them changed for a week. There is an ironing board here and I brought my old electric iron so I am able to do the ironing as usual – lovely!

Greenwich Village

July 9 1962

Portage Lake
9th July 1962.

Dearest Mummy,
Here we are in the U.S.A. & one week of our holidays gone already! I can hardly believe it as it has just flown by, but it is nice to think we still have 3 or 4 more instead of 1 as it usually is. Of course it isn’t all fun & frivol for poor Cec, but last week was so mixed up with Wed. being 4th July holiday that he didn’t really seem to be working very hard!
Our last week in Ottawa was a bit wild as the children had school till noon on Friday & Cec was working till all hours at the Lab. trying to get something going for Dr. Herzberg & leave all the people in his lab O.K. while he was away. I celebrated by getting a miserable cold & on top of that of course wanted to leave the house spic and span for Gudron, so I sniffled & sneezed & washed floors & waxed & had a gay time! However, all was left bee-oo-tiful & on Friday morning I went to the Coinwash & so got every last thing washed & left them with the beds all made with clean sheets etc. It was quite a job but I’m sure the house is really well spring cleaned this year!

Charlie’s Grade 5 report.

Cec was to come home about 1pm – 1:30 on Friday & we were to set off straight away, but he didn’t make it till about 3:00, so you can imagine how the children were champing at the bit! They both got good reports by the way & passed up into the next Grades, so Linda is now in Grade 7 & Charlie in Grade 6. Charlie was quite relieved as he was a bit worried about his exams but he did very well considering all his absences. I will have to give you the details of the reports when I get home. Linda was 9th out of a class of 31. Don’t you think I’m clever? L.C.

Linda’s Grade 6 report.

However, despite our late start we went about 200 mi. & stayed the night in a motel n. of Toronto & then next day we went on via Sarnia & Port Huron instead of down by Windsor/Detroit & it was much less crowded & v. pretty. We stopped in Stratford & booked seats at the Shakespearean Festival for “The Tempest” one evening on the way home & then a hotel that night & seats at the matinee for “The Gondoliers” the next day, so that will be fun.
We arrived at the cottage v. hot & dirty & tired around 6p.m. on the Sat. & found the family that owns it still here! The estate agent told them we weren’t coming till Sunday or Monday! However, we went to the nearby town & had a meal & then when we came back they were packing up to leave, but we didn’t get a dip that night!
It is quite an ordinary cottage, but has 2 bedrooms, a nice kitchen with electric stove, sink (cold water) 2 refrig’s, bathroom & toilet etc. It is just a step to the lake & there is a little beach & a dock & rowboat – nice big trees for shade & a lovely big screened porch. The drawback- which isn’t so bad – is that the whole lake is lined with cottages side-by-side all the way around – 40’ or 50’ fronts. This close to Detroit these lots were opened up about 1900 & some of the houses & cottages are 40 or 50 years old. Actually, we have a very nice family called Madison from Detroit on one side with a little boy of 5, Danny, & on the other the people only come out for the day on Sundays it seems, so the neighbours are no handicap but at the weekend the lake is wild – sailboat races, speed boats, water skiers, swimmers all in together & we expect a massacre any minute! It is quiet during the week though & the water is lovely – sandy bottom & only up to my waist for about 100’ out & then deepens fairly quickly, but ideal for the children.

We had one very wet rainy day – last Tuesday – after a pouring night, so we went into Ann Arbor with Cec & shopped & the children & I saw a movie in the afternoon “Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation” with James Stewart, which was very amusing. We have a little wood stove to heat the cottage with, & lots of wood so we didn’t suffer! The Wed. holiday Pete & Mary Jo came out with their family – Jody (14) Helen (12) Brooks (10) Vincent (8) & Terry (4)!! They all had a grand time in the water & we cooked hot dogs & had a good time. It was quite exhausting though – next day we all slept in & Cec & I felt glad we didn’t have 5 children!
I phoned Til & Lois one evening & they are going to drive up to see us. Til’s granddaughter Cathie (11) (Bill’s second wife!) is coming from Florida to stay with them for 2 weeks so they will bring her & I am quite curious as they said she was spoiled 5 yrs. ago!
This morning we went into our nearest small town Dexter (8 mi.) & washed at the Coin wash (Cec drove into Ann Arbor with a friend – about 16 mi.) & this afternoon we are going in to pick him up & then go to dinner at Mary & Arthur Dockrill’s – they are an English couple who were here when we were – he was Prof. Sutherland’s technician but you probably won’t remember them. They have a little girl of 4 now called Jill.
Must stop & go to & unroller my hair & get dressed. We have the typewriter (I am to type for Cec) & I have all your letters to answer so I’ll get to it soon!
The children send big hugs and lots of love –
Love to Auntie Muriel & lots for you from

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.