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.
49 Cedar Road,
Ottawa 9, Ontario.
24th August, 1969
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.
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.