January to August 1965

A note about the new high school. I went into Grade 9 at Gloucester High School, along with students from the entire township, some living as far as 40 miles from the school. Some came from the French village of Orleans, other from farm communities with one-room schools, and they had a long commute on school buses. It was quite a culture shock even for us living locally- the high school had a cafeteria where one could buy lunch, an auditorium with a stage, and a library. There were 5 grades in High School, 9 to 13, and 5 different programs offered- 2 year Hairdressing for girls, and Auto Mechanics for boys, with a certificate after completing Grade 10; 4 year Business and Commerce for girls and Technology for boys, with Junior Matriculation and Graduation after Grade 12; and an Academic stream that continued into Grade 13 for those aiming for university with Senior Matriculation at graduation. There was a Francophone stream for the French-speaking students, and French or Français classes for the academic students, depending on their mother tongue. There were 10 Grade 9 classes when I began, so over 200 students in that grade alone, and the school grew every year I was there- a second floor added on above the original level; a new wing with more technical and shop classes; a tower with pie-shaped classrooms replaced the teacher’s parking lot; and after 5 years, a community swimming pool being built beside the school, so gym classes could take advantage of the facility. Meanwhile, the developments around the school continue to expand. In Grade 9, cows in the field separating the school from the new highway used to come and look in the windows. In subsequent years, there were townhouses, apartment buildings, and new roads covering the fields beside the school and between the Montreal Road that we had lived on and the Queensway a mile south. The village of Orleans was growing, new developments went up in the fields beside the Ottawa river, and were spreading to join up. It was the baby boom generation being educated and 10 years later, in my student teaching year and times of unemployment that followed in my 20s, I had 3 more English-speaking high schools to choose from in the area, with French high schools operating separately. Ottawa had grown.

The scrapbook page for 1965 shows invitations and Valentines, showing that the adult Costains were involved with friends both local and abroad. The computer card is an invitation from Cec’s new Post-Doctorate Fellow, Harry Kroto, and his wife Margaret. They were a marvellous young couple from England, interesting, enthusiastic and full of fun. I remember one party with people from Cec’s Lab. where Harry and Margaret played a magic game with their audience, using a blindfold and the poker from the fireplace as props. The blindfolded one of the pair knelt on the hearthrug, and was able to identify which person the other was pointing at- I presume by verbal cues- and the children thought they were the coolest couple ever.
Harry was always quite clear about his interest in the visual arts, and how he was torn between science and art as a career. The Krotos were in Canada in 1967 which was the Centennial Year, and visited Expo 67, with the geodesic dome as the USA Pavilion. His later work on Carbon 60, buckminsterfullerene, was linked to this, as he explains:

Cec did not live to see Harry get the the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 but he was sure it would happen when he heard about Harry’s work with buckyballs. When Harry learned Cec was ill in 1991, he sent him a book- A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. MacKay, into which he had inserted a quotation from his time at the N.R.C. : Cec Costain- “If it doesn’t work, just kick it here.” to HWK in 1965 when the power supply did not work.
On the cover page he wrote, ‘To Cec and Cin, Two of our very best friends with love Harry and Margaret. Thanks for engineering my move to microwave spectroscopy- By far the nicest group of scientists due in no small measure to you and E.B.W. The quote on page 62 is one of my favourites. P.S. The rotational spectrum of C60 is too weak even for Jim W. to detect.’ The admiration and affection were mutual.
Other friendships are illustrated on this page- the third Sutherland daughter, Mary’s, wedding invitation, and a cryptic thank you card from a visiting Australian, Frank (Mercer?) whom they hadn’t seen since their Cambridge days.
The year continued with family birthdays, Spring Break and Easter, with school and work, but the big excitement of the spring was Carol visiting from the West Indies.

She was there for all the activities in June, the summer, and on into the fall- her usual long stay, having not seen the Costains since 1960, she would have needed to adjust to the changes in the children!
Charlie’s Graduation from Grade 8 was the final event of June, but there were other activities first. Grannie would have been very happy to be there for Charlie’s Confirmation in early June at church, and her best hat would have come out for the Governor General’s Garden Party.

Cec’s birthday and Father’s Day were celebrated, they enjoyed snaps from the Costains out west, and the whole family was pleased by the new porch at the back of the house- the open deck from the garage to the back door was now screened in with comfy chairs and tables, nice for eating in during the hot summer days when the mosquitos were bad under the trees!

The annual photo of the Lab on the steps of the N.R.C. shows Dr. Herzberg and Alec Douglas centre front, greying, Cec smiling in the second row end right, and Harry Kroto third row far left also with a big grin.

As the school year ended, the children wrote their exams- an intimidating exercise in high school for Linda, with the gym lined with rows of desks, fluorescent lights buzzing, invigilators prowling around, and hundreds of students writing earnestly in the hushed atmosphere. Both got their reports and were promoted, but Charlie’s graduation was a special ceremony because he not only got his diploma and the Citizenship Award, he also was the Valedictorian, speaking on behalf of all his fellow graduates.


After that, the family once more rented a cottage for three weeks in July at Lake Bernard.

There were beds, but not enough bedrooms, so the children slept on the open, but sheltered, porch. The renting family had asked the Costains to look after the raccoons, and Linda and Charlie found that this meant a whiskered face and a very hand-like paw, peering at them in bed.

The kits were adorable, and the children fed the family who went down to the lake to wash their spoils, which was a relief to all concerned- both animals and humans just as happy to keep a certain distance from each other.

In August, Cec went on a trip to Denmark and stayed with their friend Chris Müeller. Linda turned 13, finally a teenager, and she and Charlie got ready for high school- Linda assuring him it would be much better than elementary!

December 1963 to June 1964

The school year continued , and Christmas approached with the usual concerns of overseas parcels, cards, baking, and Charlie’s birthday. The plan to spend Christmas in Brantford was scotched, along with Charlie’s birthday festivities, when he came down with shingles- a connection from our earlier bout of chicken pox in 1957. However, he recovered in time for us to visit the Moors for New Year which was fun for the children staying up late watching old movies with their cousin Bruce, and necessary for the adults to discuss plans for the summer wedding of the oldest cousin John with Sharon- who had asked Linda to be a bridesmaid!

The winter of 1964 involved fundraising events for the church- Cyn’s Cookery Demonstration for adults, and for the young people a Sleigh Ride. This was not a happy, cozy, ‘jingle bells’ experience in my opinion. There was no ‘one-horse open sleigh’, instead a pair of horses dragged a flatbed strewn with straw on runners slowly though fields covered with knee-deep snow. The jolly companions on the wagon competed in shoving their weaker ’friends’ off the wagon into the snow, forcing them to run to the point of exhaustion to try to scramble on to the conveyance, sometimes aided by compassionate friends, or repelled by nastier bullies. The bridge of Linda’s nose received a lifelong bump when she was helpfully pulled on – along with several more victims who ended up on top of her and her glasses. The hot chocolate served at the end of the ride was poor compensation for the experience.

At school there were preparations for the musical play to be performed in the spring, and at home more personal excitement. It had been arranged that Linda would meet Sharon in Toronto during Spring Break to join the other bridal attendants for dress shopping. An air ticket was bought for Linda’s first flight alone- and I can clearly remember how I was dressed for that trip. I had a grey suit with a jacket and pleated skirt. With it I wore a white pillbox hat, white gloves (both nylon with stretchy elastic) and white socks with black shoes. John and Sharon met me at the airport and we joined the other junior bridesmaid and Sharon’s two adult friends at a bridal shop and proceeded to try on dresses. I was shy- I only knew Sharon of the party, and uttered no opinions on the outfits, but it was finally agreed that we would be wearing pretty green full- skirted dresses with white accessories. I went to Brantford with the party for the weekend, and presumably they put me back on the plane in Toronto, and I returned home with great relief. I wish there existed a letter giving Cyn’s take on the excursion (I expect I had plenty of opinions to express about it once I was home) but I remember nothing more. Probably Cyn had agreed to make sure my dress was fitted properly when it arrived, and now we just had to wait for the summer.

Easter was at the end of March, and Cyn’s birthday followed, with celebratory cards from her closest friend in England, Nancy Heslop.

The school play that year “Asses’ Ears” was a musical telling the story of the Greek King Midas, not involving his golden touch, but his later offence to the god Apollo’s music, punished with donkey’s ears. He hid these under turbans but his barber knew the secret, and whispered the news to the corn- and the growing corn rustled the news to the reapers. Grade 7s and 8s were involved in the singing chorus- and Linda and her friends were also the secondary singing-and-dancing barbers, with a jolly song “Midas has got asses’ ears” to perform. It was presented in the auditorium of the new high school that had just been built, and the Grade 8 students were very interested to see the school they would be going to after their graduation in June.

In June, there were exams, we passed, got our report cards, and Linda would be going into Grade 9 in the high school built beside the new bypass, the Queensway, a four-lane highway designed to relieve Ottawa’s traffic congestion, and link the growing suburbs being built east and west of the city.

Graduation from Grade 8 was a rite of passage that involved one of Cyn’s most successful dresses for Linda- a white sleeveless dress with a panel down the front, embroidered with pink rosebuds. This was the first time I wore nylon stockings- with garter belt and suspenders attached (pantyhose had not been invented then)- to be followed by the second time later that summer, as bridesmaid. I felt almost adult- I would be going to high school, and when I started there I would be a teenager.

October 1962

From Nainital Observatory

Cec’s wartime experience of India had not allowed for travelling within the country. This time, after his stay at the university in Mumbai, he visited colleagues in the north, in Banaras (Varanasi), and after that, the Observatory in Nainital where Dr. Pant, who had worked with Herzberg at the N.R.C. earlier in the 60s, and whom I expect Cec had met at the Spectroscopy Conferences in Columbus, or even the symposium in Japan, gave him the opportunity to see the Himalayas in the distance when the clouds allowed.

Another picture shows the Yamuna or Ganges River up close, as if Cec was looking at the 16th century Allahabad Fort from the water.

He must have made a side trip from New Delhi to see the Taj Mahal, since his slides of the outside were foreshadowed by postcards to Linda and Charlie showing the detail of the inside that interested him. The children had a multi-volume children’s encyclopedia, so would have been able to look up the places of interest, but Cec added more facts rather than personal details!
On the back of the Taj Mahal PC to Linda: “Dear Linda, Here are the actual tombs seen thru the arch in Charlie’s card. The flowers are semi-precious stones inlaid 1/2” deep in the marble. The tombs themselves are each from one piece of marble. Love Daddy.”

He also did a lot of shopping: Linda got another 2 dolls out of the visit to India, magnificent male and female Indian dolls, and Cyn silk saris and scarves- material for future sewing projects.


Cec left for Europe October 13th., stopped briefly in Italy and Spain (another doll, more PCs), and arrived home in Ottawa October 21st. On the postcard of Venice addressed to Master Charles Costain he writes: “17/10/62. Typical sight along the Grand Canal, the homes of nobles & princes of the Middle Ages. The canal has lots of traffic, gondolas, water taxis, & continuous ferry or ‘bus’ service. Tell Mummy the food was wonderful. See you soon- maybe before you get this. Love Daddy.”

Having Cec home again was reason enough for celebration, but getting presents is always fun. There was a lot of loot in his luggage- no Declaration Forms were preserved- but Cyn must have collected the telescope that had been shipped from Japan at Canadian Customs earlier that month while the children were at school, and kept it until Cec returned, because Charlie remembers that Cec’s help was needed to put it all together.

Later that Fall, Charlie made a speech about My Telescope where he describes what happened. “When my father goes away on a trip, he usually brings back a present. This year he went to Japan and India, and when he got home, he produced a huge box, nothing like I expected. I went to work unwrapping the parcel, and found a long wide tube with a mirror in the bottom. We put the pieces together. What a surprise- a telescope, for looking at the stars…”

Of course, life went back to normal now that everyone was in their proper place. Cec was glad to be home and back at work in the Lab. Among the younger scientists at the NRC, there was a spate of weddings. Dr. Hin Lu, on the permanent staff in the Physics Division, had married Marion in October, before Cec got home. In November, the wedding of the Spanish Post-Doc. Fellow, Santiago, would happen in the States, and the South African George Ritter’s wedding was planned for the new year in Ottawa. Cyn and Cec started having late night discussions that would bear fruit by Christmas, and the children incorporated their father’s travels into their November Public Speaking assignments.

September 1962

September was a busy month. Cec left for Tokyo on August 31st, Labour Day was the following Monday, and the children started school the next day, Charlie in Grade 6, Linda in Grade 7 with Mr Lumsden, her first male teacher.

Cyn must have been working with her fellow Guild members on their fashion show, which was the following week- having arranged the clothes with the shops that were lending them, they needed to fit them to the ‘models’ and rehearse them on the raised catwalk that couldn’t have been built until after that Sunday’s service (the Church Hall being a multi-purpose structure that could host an audience with the altar area curtained off.)


Linda was one of the girls wearing ‘Back To School’ outfits- throughout the 60s in my experience, girls were not allowed to wear trousers to school- and later in the show, Winter Wear, with a jacket I remember as being a very strange colour- a deep purple, most unusual in those days, which I think they paired with pumpkin coloured pants, which would never have been my choice!.

Later Cyn got nice pictures of me doing this, but the newspaper clipping shows the adults and youngest model, and with 300 people attending, the Ladies Guild probably regarded this as a successful fundraiser. Unlike Cyn’s Cookery Demonstrations, however, the fashion show was not repeated.


Meanwhile Cec, having enjoyed the “soothing comfort” and “personal attention” of a flight over the Pacific (which led him to swear he would never do it again until he could travel First Class with room for his legs), was welcomed in Tokyo with his colleagues, especially Dr. Herzberg his boss, to the International Symposium on Molecular Structure and Spectroscopy with a photo op.


Papers and presentations followed but their hosts also arranged many sightseeing opportunities which Cec enjoyed.

One of the things Cec did in Tokyo was to buy Charlie a telescope and arrange to have it shipped to Ottawa. He bought a Japanese doll with 6 different wigs for Linda’s international doll collection, and pearl earrings for Cyn.

In mid-September Cec moved on to India for a month, to fulfill his commitments there. He visited Mumbai, New Delhi, and Varanasi, visiting former N.R.C. Fellows and meeting other scientists. At home, post cards arrived!

August 1962

I can’t help thinking that August 1962 must have been rather busy for the Costain family. They returned home from their July holiday- American cottage, with hard work at the university for Cec; Stratford plays; and visits to relatives- and immediately began preparing for activity in September. Cec was going on a trip to Japan, India, and Europe for September and most of October, with a paper to give at the symposium to get ready, travel details to finalize, and work in his Lab to organize during his absence.

Cyn had to resume ordinary home life while cleaning up from a month lived out of suitcases, and her Ladies Guild had an ambitious fashion show planned for September that must have taken a lot of preliminary organizing.

The children, however, having had swimming lessons in June, and enjoyed putting them to use at the cottage in July, now had a month to enjoy their vacation before school started. The Klemans, the Swedish family who had house-and-cat-sat during July, invited the family up to their rented cottage one weekend for more water fun.

And Linda celebrated her eleventh birthday- more organizing for Cyn. It seems to have been a low key outing- Linda and 2 friends, Pamela and Joanne, went with Charlie and met some ponies! I assume there was a celebratory birthday cake and meal, and that Carol sent a parcel ‘from Grannie’ as usual to join the family presents.

In Ottawa, the Central Canada Exhibition was- is?- an August feature, and the Costains attended, for the usual combination of ferris wheel rides, farm animal and produce competitions, fairway food of cotton candy and corn dogs, and the grandstand show in the evening.

George Gobel was a comedian well known from American television. Of course, the Costains didn’t have a TV at this point…


Then by the end of the month Cyn and Cec would have been focused on getting the children ready for school, Cec ready for travel, and the whole family prepared for a rather long time without Daddy, waving goodbye to him at the airport on the 31st.

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
from
Cyn.

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,
Pinkney
Michigan.

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
Cyn.

April 20 1962

The Costain grandparents had spent the winter in the East, where the grandchildren were all older than Carman and Leona’s toddlers, and so, after the successful family gathering in Ottawa at Cec and Cyn’s for Christmas, it was happening again at Easter at Merle’s in Brantford, where Granny and Grandpa Costain were now staying. Merle and Dix’s two older boys were away at university, but Linda and Charlie enjoyed visiting their cousin Bruce. Cyn and Cec were also intending to visit friends in southern Ontario while they were there. We have no letters telling about the Easter trip, but it was immortalized in the scrapbook!

Good Friday

Dearest Mummy,
It is real Good Friday weather – lovely and sunny and warm & reminds me of some of the days at Bellingham & Warkworth. I have just been to Church and have finished writing 20 letters to various Rector’s wives etc. enclosing complimentary tickets for our Bazaar! My arm is wearing out but it must be used to hard work after all the painting!
Our painting is more or less finished – in the sitting room I mean. I have to put a 2nd coat of enamel on the window frames but that will have to wait. I was so lucky & got the name of a lady in Cardinal Hts. very close by, Mrs. Proulx, who wanted to do a little work each week so I got in touch with her & she came and cleaned for me yesterday & did a very good job. She was most thorough & worked & got all the paint off the sitting room floor & it looks so nice. Cec has scrubbed all the bamboo curtains & put them up & everything looks lovely & clean. Mrs. Proulx is going to come for a morning every week, so I feel very happy & relieved as cleaning is not my favourite thing & I am out so much with the Guild that I felt it was really getting on top of me.
We set off early in the morning, will call on Auntie & Uncle in Toronto & onto Brantford. Cec & I have a room in a motel as Merle will be crowded with Mom & Dad too, but I was horrified last week to get a call from Lea & hear that they are going too! Aren’t I mean? But what a crowd for poor Merle – they will sleep in sleeping bags on rubber mattresses but can you imagine such a crowd in the house all day & for every meal? We go to the Douglasses on the Tues. & Forsyths Wed. & home Thurs. We took poor Nicki to the Kennels yesterday and she was so scared.
I went to see Eve P. at the Civic with her baby on Mon. & it is a dear little thing. I also visited poor old Myrtle Rothwell who is in for 2 weeks for deep heat treatment for the arthritis in her hip, so I felt I had done a GOOD Deed!
We all send love & best wishes for your Happy Easter Birthday –
Much love
Cyn
XXX from L & C.

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
Cyn.