Tag Archives: cowansville quebec

Every Mile is a Memory -Linda Knight Seccaspina

Every Mile is a Memory -Linda Knight Seccaspina
Photos of Frederick J. Knight in the British Army in WW1 who immigrated to Cowansville, Quebec and was one of the founding members and president of Branch#99 Canadian Legion in Cowansville.

Every Mile is a Memory -Linda Knight Seccaspina

My Grandfather didn’t like talking about the war, or really, anything about the past. I never realized just how strong his feelings were until one evening while we were watching a documentary about the first World War— I saw tears in his eyes. Grampy Knight had never been one to show his emotions easily. He must have seen horrible things in the war, but he rarely spoke about it, or his childhood.

Despite my Grandfather’s reluctance to talk about anything, World War 1 seems to have been his peak experience. Sometimes it appeared to me that he found the rest of his life, as a successful businessman, and man of the community, anticlimactic and vaguely disappointing. Like many, he had a hard time sleeping at night as there had been years without a lot to smile about throughout his life.

Grampy Knight had fought with the British Army in WWI in France and had been one of the first soldiers to be poisoned with mustard gas in the trenches. My father had participated in WWII with the Canadian Army, and his greatest disappointment was that I never followed suit.

I often wondered why my father wanted to follow in my Grandfather Knight’s footsteps as Grampy had returned from the trenches in France after WW1 with medals and a lifetime encyclopedia full of stories that he rarely spoke about. But, my father came back from training in Georgia sadly never to set foot on the foreign countries he so wanted to defend. He too rarely spoke about his time in military service, but I assumed he was disappointed in his achievements.

War was a serious business in the Knight family– even when we were at peace. Once in a very blue moon I was suddenly lectured on the devastation of war. My Grandfather had lived in the muddy trenches of France for long periods of time and then spent the rest of his living years dealing with the repercussions of being gassed. He used a quote that the use of gas was “a cynical and barbarous disregard of the well-known usages of civilized war”— even though they had no idea what had happened to them at the time.

Gas had a profound psychological impact on soldiers – it terrified and killed many of them. Watching him hold his temples in pain from migraines every few days upset me and the mind of a child wondered if it had led to a better tomorrow.  Was there pressure on them to remain silent, or was there a drift into leaving the memories all behind for mental peace. Their self reliance and courage sometimes bent in all sorts of shape but never broke, but most times they just never talked about it

Many generations of our families endured wars, Spanish Flu, Diphtheria, Polio, droughts, depression and yet they survived it all. They made do during the bad times and suddenly they experienced changes they thought they would never see. But, I always remembered to ask about things, and sometimes I got a story to remember, and sometimes I didn’t.

This week I reminded folks to talk to your grandparents and capture the stories for generations to come. It seems a lot of us haven’t been very good at listening to the stories from the past, and in most cases they are the reason for our success. Remember some of us might walk a lot faster, but our elders most certainly know the road and the memories of living through it. There is no doubt they became stronger through their experiences. Everyone has a story to tell, whether they want to tell them or not, and all someone has to do is just ask. Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s about leaving something in people, remember that.

In Memory of Carman Lalonde, one of the greatest story tellers of Lanark County.

In Memory of Carman Lalonde — Grandfather, Father and Historian of Lanark County

On the outbreak of war in August 1914, the fortress engineers moved to their war stations in the coastal defences, the Cornwall Fortress Engineers coming under the command of South Western Coast Defences HQ at Devonport, Plymouth.[9] Shortly afterwards, the men of the TF were invited to volunteer for Overseas Service and WO instructions were issued to form those men who had only signed up for Home Service into reserve or 2nd Line units. The titles of these 2nd Line units were the same as the original, but distinguished by a ‘2/’ prefix. They absorbed most of the recruits that flooded in, and in many cases themselves went on active service later.[10]

Today I am 67 — How did I get Here?

Today I am 67 — How did I get Here?




When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine


Today I turn 67 and frankly I don’t know how I got here. Every morning I look in the bathroom mirror I see the same face I saw years ago, but when I take a selfie the person staring back at me is not that same face in the mirror.

I was born on the 24th of July in the year 1951 on supposedly the warmest day of July. My mother had a rough labour, and soon after she was placed in the Victoria Hospital in Montreal as she had a horrible case of postpartum the likes no one had seen before. For two years my Dad travelled on one of the Cowansville McCrum Trucks each evening to see his wife who did not recognize him and screamed for security. My first memory is sitting on a iron bed in that hospital watching my Mother play solitaire and her smiling at me, yet she had no clue to who I was. My father said I could not have been more than a year and a half.

Childhood was not easy with my younger sister and I being alone a lot while my father attended my mother in various hospitals. I think I developed street smarts of some sorts during those formative years and learned to take crap from no one. It was the only way to survive in a way and thankfully I had my grandparents to lean on after my Mother died.

Years passed and I became a fashion designer for years where my creativity could flow. I had always been different and never made any apologies for it. My life had many ups and downs like everyone else, but somehow you survive, you have too. Heart attacks, strokes, you name it dealt me cards I had to handle, and sometimes I wondered if life had an expiration date for me.

I became a writer and have never figured out how this happened. I found myself back in history, back in time, recording the past of an area I never lived in with passion. I longed to find my own family, to understand why I was the way I was. I found a great grandfather that left his family for the music business and another that resided in Queen Victoria’s court and her bad reputation was known for miles. There were artists, and some that worshipped leading their community over their families. It was all  that I uncovered under the family dust.

Did I really come from that?

1966 the year before I left home at 15.5 to tackle the city of Montreal- Photo by Agnes Rychard, my “kitchen table mother” who made me the cake.


Where do I sit if there is history on on every chair and it does not look like mine?

All around me were murmurs of neglected dreams– or were they? I had always fled from conformity and my past life. There was too much pain, too many memories that crushed the remains of my heart. One could speculate for hours about why I became what I am today.

So maybe I still am that 16 year-old girl in the mirror, even if the reflection no longer looks like me. The wrinkles and the wisps of white hair are battle scars from the past. I need to make peace with the reflection, but honestly mirrors need to think longer before they reflect. In the end I am not going to take that reflection seriously, as my true reflection is in my heart.

If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four

One question.. Can I get 64 back?

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11




June 12, 2009 2:12 PM

I have told the story before of my Grandmother reluctantly wearing Eva Gabor wigs at the age of 52. Her hair had been badly burned at the hands of a 1930’s salon perm and her thinning hair failed to cover her bald spots. Hence, a different style of Eva graced Mary’s head every single day. But, even with all her hair issues it never stopped her from inflicting Toni home perms on me. There was no talking to my stylist, Grammy Mary Louise Deller Knight. She would stand there forever adjusting her wig from side to side in frustration while she gave me a perm until her wig gave in.

The smell of a Toni Perm still haunts me like it was yesterday. Just seeing the little plastic squeeze bottle coming towards me still gives me nightmares.  Did you know there were actually rules and instructions for those perms? My family knew their own version all by heart, as it had been handed down by word of mouth through many generations. I don’t think I can ever forget the words: “Let me know when it starts burning!”

When the perm was over; the towels were taken out to be boiled in hot water because they smelled. The scent was almost up there with Vick’s Vapor Rub– on the top ten most hated list. My Grandmother? Grammy Knight went outside to shake her wig. It seems that her Eva Gabor wig wasn’t that comfy when she was stressed out. I finally nipped the perm in the bud in 1961. When the movie “The Parent Trap” came out, I went to the hairdresser with a picture of Hayley Mills’ pixie cut and said, “Do this!” I was finally sick of feeling like Rapunzel caught in the tower with a head full of fuzz. Hear no perm, speak no perm and see no perm–evermore!

When I got the Hayley Mills cut I was interrogated by the hair salon’s many patrons and hairdressers. They were horrified, it was so short, so I just pretended to be Audrey Hepburn, from “The Nun’s Story,” for the next few months. I still can’t talk about perms. My rule now is:

 “Mess with my hair today people and I will cut you like bad bangs taped down with Scotch Tape and roll you up like a jacked perm!”




January 10 2018

When I grew up everyone’s family had a food they were known for in the community. Food captured a lot of the 50s with the invention of nuclear colours, and things made with cheese that should have never graced a meal on the supper table. In that era for example, we veered away from foods cooked from scratch to pre-packaged processed foods as households sought “convenience”.  I concur that the word “convenience” would have been anything affiliated with the word Kraft.

Oysters were common in my world as my Dad used to convene the Trinity Anglican Church Oyster Supper in Cowansville each year.  Arthur Knight was known for his Oyster Stew just like my Grandmother was known for her salmon sandwiches and Cheeze Whiz and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheel sandwiches. Of course if we have to be honest here, let’s not forget the Jellied Salads.

My Grandmother put me to work in the church kitchen as soon as I could fit into an apron. I hated the fact that my Grandmother, Mary Louise Delller Knight, made the tinned pink salmon sandwiches as I feared I might have to be a witness to anyone choking on one of those fine bones she might have innocently left in the filling. Minus the bones, her salmon sandwiches were definitely amazing and never quite tasted like the neighbours. I couldn’t figure it out until years later when I found out that the neighbour had been committing a felony for decades and had been using canned tuna instead.

As for those Cheese Whiz and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheel Sandwiches, mayonnaise was a prime ingredient in this recipe. Most normal folks used cream cheese, but not my Grandmother– she was a Kraft gal, with her only wish to be carried away in a riptide of cheese. Thankfully, she never made my Grandfather’s favourite of Sardines on Toast with onions. That was always “real eating” as far as they were concerned.

When the special dinners rolled around for the Legion or the Lodge, Jellied Salads were her specialty, and Grammy loved making them. On the morning of the event she would call out to my Grandfather who was working in the garden:

“Fred, could you bring me some fresh tomatoes so I can make a Tomato Aspic for the Legion dinner?”

My Grandfather would smile, and hum some unknown tune as she boiled those tomatoes to death to add to the Lemon Jello. Grammy always insisted on making extra for me, and she would serve a piece of jellied salad with a slice of lamb. Of course her famous mint sauce accompanied anything and everything that now looks similar to Uggs.

Mary Louise Deller Knight always insisted on picking fresh mint from the side of the house near the Shell Station on South Street, which I was not in favour of. I always threw my hands up in the air and mentioned that cats, dogs and the homeless had peed on it. She laughed, and I would shake my head, and yet everyone in the family except me would rave about about her mint sauce. Years later I am the last one in the family standing and sometimes wonder if her Mint Sauce did everyone in.

When I was in my 40’s I found myself making those very same Cheese Whiz and Maraschino Cherry Pinwheel Sandwiches that I used to loathe. After a church luncheon I was told never to darken the church’s doors with those awful sandwiches. When I protested how others used to like my Grandmother’s way back when they rolled their eyes. They said if anyone made that recipe today, people would think that the house that it came from was either a front for making Meth or hiding bodies. I shook my head and wondered if they really knew that the smart dressed gals might be the clever and good looking ones but— it’s really the ladies who make the church sandwiches that  are real wife material.

From Sherbrooke Daily Record online–http://sherbrookerecord.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx


Sept 2 8:30 Pm

Remembering 1964 — The Columbia Record Club
In 1964 Linda began to get herself into financial trouble with a mail-order company called The Columbia Record Club. At 14, she had a huge passion for music, and all she had to do was tape a penny to a card she found in the back of a comic book and have a home address. She happily picked out what she thought was 12 free music selections– after all, Columbia House had shipped 24 million records to other teenagers that year. Nothing could be wrong, could it?

Linda, like other kids, in greater North America had failed to read the fine print. She along with other Beatle fans never understood the “music appreciation club” wanting her and other music aficionados to purchase a certain number of monthly selections that were not even in her genre of music. Of course, had it not been for Columbia House she never would have had an appreciation for Barbra Streisand had she not listened to her records they shipped her without consent some months before.

As the months passed Linda found herself with a lot of unwanted music and a growing bill that she could not pay. Her father had warned her, as he too had been taken in by something called “The Book of the Month Club” and caught by something called “negative option billing”.

A man called Les Wunderman had taken “The Book of the Month Club” to new heights and created such novel marketing ideas as: the database, the 1-800 number, the ‘buy 12 items for a penny’ and post-paid insert cards. Linda had no idea about all of this, as all she knew was that she could order records for free without the cost of even a stamp. Columbia Records, and book clubs, may have in essence been scamming people, however, those of us in the far north of Canada would not have gotten any cool records or books without them.

There was nothing like receiving something free in the mail, even if they were hounding you for the $25 you didn’t have. The collection agencies began to send her nasty letters for the outstanding records she owed. Linda began to respond to the letters and argued they charged full list price for the records plus a very large “postage and handling” charge, usually $2.98 per record. A $4.98 LP that you could get for $2.79 in most record stores would cost $7.96 with the club. Columbia House kept sending her records and bills until one day Linda decided to ask for the help of the smartest kid in the 9th grade. Word on the street was that he was some “boy genius” and was filled with all sorts of facts.

It took her days to gather up the courage to set up “an appointment” during school lunch break, and finally one day she took the plunge. As she told him of her dilemma he lowered his glasses and read the letters carefully and told her he might have an answer the next day. Fourty-eight hours later he summoned her to his desk, as by that time others had gathered, as it seemed they were ‘under the boardwalk’ with Columbia Record House too. The young man with the razor sharp haircut was tapping his fingers on his desk when she entered the classroom. He looked at her and began to smile broadly and said,

“Linda, I have an answer to your problem and it’s quite simple!”

Gasps could be heard around the room that we had someone so smart in our school that could save us all. He held up the collection letter and began to laugh,

“Just tell them that contracts like this are not legal tender for anyone that is fourteen!”

With that everyone clapped their hands, and that very night letters from all corners of Cowansville, Quebec were sent to Columbia Record House. In later years some of us still found ourselves caught in the clutches of other “kissing cousins clubs” that sold CDs, video and cookbooks. But, it always made us remember that day when we learned that you could not force ‘little children’ to buy Ray Charles Singers records, but negative option billing would always be legal in some shape or form.





January 28, 2007 1:45 AM

Every Saturday morning I would awake to rousing marching tunes by John Philip Sousa being played on the old Hi Fi in the family living room. John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known primarily for American military and patriotic marches.  I have no idea how my father Arthur J. Knight found this musical passion, but he got it from somewhere. He loved the military so much that he joined the Canadian Army during the WW II, but never made it past the training session in Georgia because the war ended. I often wondered if he wanted to follow my Grandfather Fred Knight’s footsteps as he returned from the  trenches in France after WW1 with medals and and a lifetime encyclopedia full of stories.


I never remember asking my father to turn the death defying volume down as he chose to crouch next to the Hi FI speaker with his ear glued to whatever was being played. I figured if he kept it up for enough years he was going to lose his hearing– and then there was the fact that he put up with my Beatle music. No teenager would ever want to mess around with their Father’s views on their music. “The Washington Post” by Sousa was his absolute favourite, and then that usually followed with the “King Cotton March” with some added piping and drumming from the Grenadier Guards thrown in for good measure. This wasn’t a passing fancy- he would listen to music, and absorb it– but you would never hear it come out directly in his conversations. I don’t think anyone knew except for my sister and a few others.

When I was 13 I joined “Les Optimistes de Cowansville” and was handed a bass trumpet which I hated, and then a flag. I did a lot of practising but after never getting the snare drum I truly wanted to play I went back to being a Beatle fan and a Viet Nam War protester. I can tell you that none of that made my Father happy especially protesting a war.  In all honesty I have to say that in later years I realize how much his love of marching bands and bagpipes affected me. Even if I didn’t enjoy the music at the time my heart skips a beat at a parade, and of course the bagpipe drives me to tears because of my Father.

When the first Monty Python movie came out and the opening credits began, someone in the theatre audience asked where on earth they got THAT music from. Without missing a beat I yelled: “John Philip Sousa”. So you can say that my Father never really stunted my likes and dislikes in music– as Monty Python would say, “it was only a musical flesh wound”. Know what I mean? Nudge nudge. Nudge nudge! Know what I mean? Say no more. As John Philip Sousa once said: The average music-lover hears only the production under prevailing conditions.



Lies The World Told Me

The first ridiculous warning that I ever got from my parents was that if I swallowed watermelon seeds I was going to grow a watermelon in my stomach. Since I was more interested in the sweeter side of life I never gave that tale another thought. But honestly, their warning about swallowing gum terrified me. The first time I accidentally swallowed gum, I thought that I was going to die– but I was too afraid to tell anyone. So, I just carried on with life. Nothing horrible happened, and even though I was told gum stayed in your body for 7 years I soon realized that it was indeed a hoax and that humble chewing gum was no power for my gut.
My Mother however, insisted on sharing things that drove me to the point of insanity. One of her better ones was that Pinocchio was real, and if I lied my nose would grow. Of course that never stopped the little white lies/stories that I told, but I’d hold my hand over my nose while I told them. But, if was far better than my friend telling me that the oil spots on the street were caused by small children getting run over because they didn’t hold hands.


Every day I would check behind my ears to make sure potatoes were not growing  because I never washed behind them. My Grandmother told me that spinach would make me strong like Popeye, and I would force myself to eat a few forkfuls at lunch. I would rush outside with her as she told me to close my eyes and try and lift the house. Of course she exclaimed that it moved, and instantly I would run back inside and finish the spinach off. After all, you are what you eat, not how you clean your ears.

I thought it was terrible that I was told that closed stores in the mall was where they put the kids that demanded toys. But then, I told my kids when they were small that if they didn’t trim their nails their overgrown nails would put holes in their socks.

In the summer I would watch storms filling the sky while I drank only Coke, as I was told if you mixed Pepsi and Coca Cola together there would be an explosion, and that’s why restaurants never served both. Thunder was angels bowling and lightning was them getting a strike. I would always silently congratulate the angels when I saw lightning, and would imagine God giving them a high five and knew that they were happy I had not caused an unneeded explosion.

As the Easter season approaches, I will never forget the time when I told my Communion class that Easter was the day when Jesus rolled back the rock, and if he saw his shadow we would have six more weeks of winter. I have to admit that I was quite young when I began to imitate my family’s tales of terror in my own little way. I told my Father when I was 16 that I heard that anyone over 30 was going to be sent to farms. It was a sign of the 60s, but indeed a terrible thing to say. However, when I turned 30 he turned to me as I blew out my Birthday candles and said,

“Happy Birthday Linda, you are 30 today, what time is your bus pulling in to take you to the farm?”

That did indeed hit me hard, harder than the time he said if I kept picking my nose my forehead would fall in. Were they flat out lies? Maybe they were just trying to get a point across so we would behave. But then again, I have never drank a single cup of coffee in my life as I knew for sure it was going to stunt my growth. So how come I am so short?


From Sherbrooke Daily Record online–http://sherbrookerecord.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx


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January 12, 2018.

I sit here drinking from a mug of steaming hot chocolate topped with fake whipped cream trying to figure out what to write. As I stick my finger into the canned sweetened whipped cream that was propelled by nitrous oxide I realize very little has been written about the foodie topping. I figure my extreme fascination all boils down to one thing– my late mother’s beloved Royal Chintz whipped cream set which supposedly came from somewhere called Arnart 5th Avenue via a 1950’s slow boat from Japan.


I don’t have many fond memories of my childhood, but that miniature lilac gilt trimmed mini jug and saucer was the first thing I grabbed when they were settling up my father’s estate. As the beginning stages of my childhood gluttony began, whipped cream became part of my DNA. Family food fights with the finally invented aerosol whipped cream cans and making sure boxes of Dream Whip were stocked in the kitchen cupboards became passions of mine. My Grandmother’s threats of over-beating fresh whipped cream resulting in butter are still instilled in my brain.


Because whipped cream is so beloved as a food group to me, did I really want to waste it on sex later in life? “You, me, handcuffs and whipped cream” became the first hint that a possible suitor was not for me. I mean, was it really safe to put IT down there? Why waste it when sugar, cream and a cold mixing bowl could produce an orgasm the gentleman might not even be capable of giving me. Even a suggested bikini made from an aerosol can of whipped cream did not interest me as it was a definite “killing sexy time” moment– especially with a misspelled product name called Reddi-Wip without the ‘h’. I actually blamed that spell change from Whip to Wip on The Mandela Effect, in which many of us are certain we remember something a particular way, but it turns out we’re dead wrong.
When the children came around, breastfeeding was not even a thought for me as all I could think of was my breast spraying aerosol whipped cream into the child’s mouth. You have to wonder how I have survived life with all the fancy coffees and those grande non-fat lattes sporting whipped cream. Even when fitness model and blogger Rebecca Burger died in 2017 from “a domestic accident” with a whipped cream canister, it never turned me into a whipped cream agnostic. Now I just whip it myself and maybe just add a touch of Drambuie if I am feeling sassy. I could use the workout.

From my entry in the Erma Bombeck contest– two years ago #32… this year #24.. maybe before I die LOL



Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)


Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 10

The Secret World of Menopausal Mary



From the Sherbrooke Record

Looking closely at my body, I wonder how a person ends up becoming this particular shape in life. I think I have half a brain and know if you eat sensibly you lose weight. So how come for 60 odd years I have tried every diet in the universe and only a few pounds have fallen off? Is there something blocking a fat cell somewhere or is my lack of diet success just hereditary?
My mother was tall and slender like Rita Hayworth, and my father, who I am the spitting image of, was the shape of a box like his mother. There you have it; no wonder as the years have passed, people say I look just like my grandmother. I have become the junior version of Mary Deller Knight and have followed her quack diet ideas like ducks flock to water.
Mary was a pretty British gal when my grandfather met her on the seashore in Devon, England. She was no “skinny minnie” and had quite the caboose going, but Fred loved her no matter what she looked like. Mary always worried about her size and wore slimming navy blue dresses with her belt strategically located inches below her bust. I never saw her with a full plate of food, and considering how little we saw her eat in public, it was amazing that she did not look like a stick figure. All of us wondered why she was so stocky and asked ourselves if Mary really was what we would now call a “closet eater”?
She always started her morning with a cup of “slimming tea” followed by a piece of dry toast. Lunch was the same, and dinner was a small portion of whatever we ate, with the addition of fresh sliced tomatoes. I only saw her eat a piece of chocolate on Saturday nights, when my Grandfather would go across the street and buy a bar for them to have with their weekly glass of sherry. Personally, I always thought my Grandfather had that glass of sherry to get through the Lawrence Welk program she so dearly loved.
When the slimming tea did not work, my Grandmother read a magazine ad that advised her to take up smoking if she craved sweets. So instead of brewing her tea Grammy reached for a Lucky Strike instead. Seeing no one smoked in the family she did it on the sly amongst the fresh mint that grew on the side of the barn. Every time she served mint on her leg of lamb, I swear all I could taste were ashes and wondered when my Grandfather would catch on. Actually, it did not take Grampy long to find out and he insisted she stop smoking, or she was going to get hemorrhoids. I had no clue to what that was but I just nodded in agreement.
For a long period of time I noticed all these strange things in the drawers of the white bureau in her kitchen. They were $1.00 trial boxes of candy guaranteed to make you slimmer, called Kelpadine, and bottles of Ballard’s Liniment that was guaranteed to rub the fat off you.
Then the sugar company put an ad out stating that a little bit of sugar might be just what you need to curb your appetite. Following their suggestion to have a soft drink before your main meal, she had so much caffeine in her at one point she began to talk fast and slur her speech. My alarmed Grandfather immediately cut her off and he had to wean her like a lab rat getting off of cheese.
Six months later she read a magazine article that stated that a family who ate lard together remained happy.  She began to smile as she continued to read because on the other side of the page was an ad for Ayds.  It was the worst name ever to be associated with any weight loss product or anything else for that matter.
When she died we found cartons of the “vitamin enriched” stuff in chocolate and vanilla flavours tucked away amongst her folded towels. Mary had finally given in and gave up her grapefruit diets and the plates of cottage cheese.  She truly believed that if she ate Ayds before meals they would become her final diet salvation.  At last, Mary could eat the vegetables she really loved, like carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie. All was now well in Mary’s eating world and maybe someday it will be in mine. One has only got to hope!
 Notes from the Peanut Gallery

“Never eat more than you can lift!” – Patricia Plumber

Dreams Behind Closed Doors?

Dreams Behind Closed Doors?

If you could live your life all over again would you change anything? What would you say to the people you loved and lost?

Last night in what seemed an endless dream; I spent time with an older couple who I just could not seem to place. I remembered the scent of my surroundings and the older couple and I talked about life, families, and how they missed everyone. They knew everything about me, yet I was frustrated that I could not remember who they were.  Were they people I had met at a garage sale and snapped pictures of? I could not remember, yet everything facing me at that point and time should have been clear as day.

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Photo of the F. J. Knight Co on South Street- Cowansville Quebec

The couple sat on a blue couch covered with a a thin plastic cover and the Life magazines on the coffee table stared back at me. They asked me how I was feeling, and I told them that I was fine. Both of them told me that they had shed many tears watching me go through life and felt helpless. I looked into the woman’s eyes and suddenly I remembered. I was talking to my grandmother – but how could that be? She had died almost forty years ago, and how was she able to speak to me now?

My grandparents told me that I had made many wrong turns in life but I was now on the right road. Grammy beckoned me to approach the couch where she hugged me and we broke into tears. She told me to dry my eyes, go upstairs, and rest before supper.


This is the same door that was on the F. J. Knight building in Cowansville that is now in my home.

I climbed up the familiar orange painted wooden stairs and opened the upper floor door. Cold air slapped me in the face like it used to when I was a child. They never turned the heat on the second floor and only used small space heaters at night. I went into my grandparent’s rooms and sat on one of the twin beds. I could smell her Evening in Paris perfume in the air and the sun shone through the closed pink curtains. Sitting on the worn yellow chenille bedspread, I looked at the ceiling and remembered the day my grandfather died just outside this room.

My grandmother had helped him from the very bed I was laying on to the bathroom one September day and he lost his footing. I heard her scream and I tried to drag one of the oxygen tanks up the stairs, but it was way too heavy. Grammy frantically hovered over his now lifeless body and begged him not to die.

As the antique travel clock clicked loudly on the sideboard I attempted to give my grandfather mouth to mouth resuscitation. After a few minutes I felt his last gasp on my face and knew he was gone. Mental doors shut for me that day he died and it took years for me to understand that once a door closes, another one opens. But, as in my case, I was so stubborn looking what seemed forever at that closed door that I just didn’t see the one that opened for years.


The mail slot and door bell ringer

There didn’t seem to be any closure to the dream after I awoke, and many hours later I looked at the calendar on the fridge. It was September the 27th, which was thirty five years ago to the day they had torn my grandparents home down to replace it with a more modern building. My father had salvaged the front green door that day that was to become a family reminder of what once was, and years later I brought the door back to my home where it still stands guarding the basement.

Last night in a dream my grandparents shared their love with me once again. Mistakes are meant to be made so you can learn from them, and I would not change a thing about how I handled my life. Love is to be spread far and wide, not contained, and their memories will live through me for the remaining days I have left, along with what went on daily behind closed doors. So each day always remember to always open a door, as it may lead you to somewhere unexpected, and every single day is the perfect day to open a new door.



My Grandmother Mary Louise Deller Knight- Cowansville, Quebec who raised me.  I only had one picture of her and thanks goes out to Denis Ducharme for the pictures.


Last thing I ever  want to do is glorify my family, but I am putting this here so my Grandchildren will see their ancestry down the line.


Former alderman and deputy mayor of Cowansville and campaign committee member for former Quebec Member of the Legislative Assembly Jean Jacques Bertrand for the District of Missisquoi from 1948 until his death in 1973 who was also the 21st Quebec Premier.-Ville de Cowansville




The Streets of COWANSVILLE Quebec

KNIGHT Street : Arthur Knight fut échevin de 1958 à 1967. La famille avait un commerce d’électricien.–Ville de Cowansville

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Grandfather Frederick J. Knight (centre)- President of the Cowansville Branch of the Canadian Legion (Branch No. 99)

1945–Organized only last March 14 (1944), the Cowansville Branch of the Canadian Legion (Branch No. 99) has become one of the most active of the Province’s Legion branches. Originally formed with 20 veterans, the organization has grown to 65 in a short period of less than a year, and is now engaged in mapping plans for the re-establishment of veterans of World War II. Legion Colors were dedicated on October 8, 1944 at an impressive ceremony in the front of the Heroes’ Memorial High School. 

Plans for the erection of a Legion Memorial Hall after the war are presently under consideration, and will include a cenotaph built in a section of the hall, for various veteran and community affairs. This structure will be built as a living memorial to the Cowansville boys and girls now serving on Active Service. The Heroes’ Memorial High School was erected as a memorial of those who fell during the last Great War. Legion officers elected for 1945 include: President, F. J. Knight; First Vice-President, A. G. Scott; 2nd Vice-President, R. Brault; Sergeant-at-Arms, H. Pugh.–Ville de Cowansville



July-August 1952

Cowansville Soft Ball League

Barker: row from left to right: Eugène Lacoste, Carl Cotton, Paul Matton, Waldo Cleary, manager, Arthur Knight. Bottom Row, same order: André Gingras, Roch Pépin, Mr. Laliberté, mascot, Edmond Talbot, Charles Veillette and Maurice Chabot.–Ville de Cowansville


Seven 1953-Soft Ball League

4-Barker: row from top to right: Arthur Knight, Eugène Lacoste, Waldo Cleary, Romeo Matton, Paul Matton, René Lebrun, manager. Bottom Row, same order: Jean Jodoin, Herman Dubuc, Donald King, mascot, Robert Thibodeau and Blair bowling.–Ville de Cowansville

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.


90 Day Fiance and Mail Order and War Brides

Sometimes You Need to Just Walk Your Potatoe

Hobos, Apple Pie, and the Depression–Tales from 569 South Street

Ashes to Ashes and Spins of the Washing Machine

The Days of Smocking and Spanish Bar Cake


Here we go Carleton Place– Mark Your Calendars–



Join us and learn about the history under your feet! This year’s St. James Cemetery Walk will take place Thursday October 19th and october 21– Museum Curator Jennfer Irwin will lead you through the gravestones and introduce you to some of our most memorable lost souls!
Be ready for a few surprises along the way….
This walk takes place in the dark on uneven ground. Please wear proper footwear and bring a small flashlight if you like.
Tickets available at the Museum, 267 Edmund Street. Two dates!!!

OCT 28th
Downtown Carleton Place Halloween Trick or Treat Day–https://www.facebook.com/events/489742168060479/

Here we go Carleton Place– Mark Your Calendars–

October 28th The Occomores Valley Grante and Tile Event–730pm-1am Carleton Place arena-Stop by and pick up your tickets for our fundraiser dance for LAWS. They also have tickets for Hometown Hearts event at the Grand Hotel fundraiser


A Tale of Two Women



Dedicated to two women- one I did not know, and one I miss greatly for International Women’s Day

March 2012

A few months ago I went to an estate sale that was simply out of this world. Everything was pre-1960 and I was just like a kid in a candy store. I scored a large box of vintage patterns, hats and purses that I guarded with my life. A green hand crochet bag caught my eye because my grandmother had carried the very same style for years. When I opened it, there inside was a hand coloured photograph of a woman that was signed,

Forever yours, Lois.”

” I love you.”

I asked the woman in charge about the picture and she started telling me the sad story about Lois. Lois’s last name was Lane and I began to giggle, but I soon stopped as she continued her tale. This Lois had not been married to Superman at any point in her life and she had originally been a happy bride until her husband had been shipped off to war. Sad to say Jerry Lane did not make it, and after that Lois’s life went downhill.

Lois began drinking tequila at a bar named Moe’s and hung out in the back alley looking for someone to replace Jerry. As the years went by Lois’s looks also went downhill. She continued to carry the purse with Jerry’s handkerchief in it; the same one she had used to wipe away the tears when he left. Lois was also a huge fan of the movie Gone with the Wind like my grandmother, and tried to style her hair like Vivian Leigh. All of this was too close for comfort – the same green bag and the love of that wonderful movie.


When the movie finally came to Canada, my grandmother sat in the Princess Theatre in Cowansville, Quebec and watched all three hours and forty four minutes of it. She repeatedly told me the same story about the inspiration of that crocheted green bag. Grammy knew that my grandfather would not let her rip the curtains down to make a dress, so the bag had to do.

She used it throughout the years to hold loose change and Kleenex that held the of movies and funerals. It also carried weekly grocery lists and packets of her beloved Zinnia seeds.

Grammy placed notes inside that she would eventually take to her son’s High School on almost a daily basis. She constantly pleaded with them not to give her son Frederick a vaccination shot as others had gotten bad reactions from them. Those notes in her bag would soon be replaced with funeral notices of Frederick’s passing 60 days later after he had gotten the doomed shot. He was barely 19 years old.


Mary Louise Deller Knight- Cowansville Quebec- my Grandmother

Like Lois she was organized, and every Friday she would fill the green purse with the small black notebooks that held the working hours of the electricians working for my grandfather’s company. One day the front door of their business at 507 South Street in Cowansville was painted green, and the weekly radio ads would state,

“Visit the F. J. Knight Co. on South Street that is just behind the green door.”

No one knew of course that she had told my grandfather to paint that door green in memory of Scarlet’s beloved dress. One day the green crochet bag was filed away and not seen for years. She had lovingly placed it in a small box with tissue paper to protect it. The green bag had been substituted with a two handled black leatherette bags that were just was not as interesting as the one Scarlet had inspired.

On the other hand Lois continued to carry the same bag until she finally realized that Jerry was not coming back. Missing her superhero husband she ended up overdosing on a bottle of pills and when she died her framed picture was placed in her favourite green bag and forgotten until the garage sale.

Lois never had any children, so I have written this blog in memory of her and my grandmother. After all, everyone should be remembered at some point–because in my life, even if they were just a photograph–  we have loved them all.

Degrassi Derek “Wheels” Wheeler Dead – My Personal Obituary and Stuff


Written in 2012

On February 16th the Canadian media announced that former teen star Neil Hope, also known as Derek “Wheels” Wheeler of the TV show “Degrassi” was dead. Sadly, people come and go but in a believe it or not moment Hope had actually died five years ago of natural causes at the age of 35. The final confirmation had been posted on the Facebook group “Let’s Bring The Real Neil Hope (“Wheels” from Degrassi)” on Jan. 12, 2012

According to the National Post, the Canadian actor’s fiancee, Christina Boulard, released the following statement:

“The family regrets to announce that Neil passed away in Hamilton, Ontario on November 25, 2007 of natural causes. There was some confusion regarding his passing that they do not wish to go public with, which is why they are only announcing his death now to the public and the media.”

I searched high and low for his obituary and all I found was this brief blip of the former teen idol.

Hope was born Sept. 24, 1972, in Toronto. His parents were alcoholics — his Degrassi character also struggled with alcoholism — and Hope was candid about his struggle with his parents’ addictions. He encouraged teens to speak up and seek help in a 1992 series called “Degrassi Talked, which featured the show’s actors discussing issues such as safe sex and addiction. Hope himself struggled with alcohol addiction after the filming of the documentary “The Dark Side”, which focused on the death of his father. Hope’s last acting role was on a 2003 episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation called “Should I Stay or Should I Go”?
I was saddened to read such a short memorial for an icon from a beloved hit on both sides of the border. Do we ever wonder what people are going to say about us after we die? Are they going to say something decent, or is it going to be just a nod of the head? After thinking for awhile I decided that if such a famous person as Neil Hope can die five years ago and receive simply a paragraph maybe it is smart thing for most of us to write our own obituary and safety pin it to our inner pockets. Here is my Obituary now firmly pinned to my sports bra. Enjoy!


Linda Susan Knight Seccaspina, barely ? died peacefully last week after suffering a short battle with stubbornness. Seccaspina was most famous for owning one of the longest standing retail stores on Rideau Street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Flash Cadilac opened in 1974 and closed in 1997. She was proclaimed as one of Canada’s fashion icons on the Canadian Women’s TV Network’s biography series, yet she could not sew. The Ottawa Citizen newspaper labeled her “The Mother Theresa of Punk Rock” and  “The Maiden of Death” even though they had no clue why and Seccaspina had to deal with rumours for years.

People will always remember Linda for her smile, distinctive look and the constant lipstick on her teeth. Her love and style of fashion came from her late mother Bernice Ethelyne Crittenden Knight who was a fabric designer for the now defunct Bruck Mills. Seccaspina also inherited some artistic skills from her late grandfather George Arthur Crittenden who was one of the originators of chalkware creations. Any Asian couple, deer, fruit or vegetables seen on the walls of many homes in the 50’s and 60’s were probably created from George’s mind.

Her gift of constant conversation came from her father’s side. Her great great grandmother, Louise Knight was a lady in waiting for Queen Victoria talked her way out of jail time for having “loose skirts court side ” and ended up marrying one of the Duke’s of Essex. The family’s claim to fame was bragging constantly about the ownership of all the trucks that hauled milk to the Nestle UK Pudding plant.

Growing up in Cowansville ,Quebec, Canada, she attended (not graduated) Cowansville High School and took her fashion design training in Montreal. She interned at Lou Shedlack (Bill Blass) and at the very first Le Chateau Store in Montreal where she was laid off for not being cool enough.

Seccaspina was an assistant designer for the children’s wear companies Fine Togs and Kiddy Togs in Montreal and retail was taught to her from the ground up for many years by the Vineberg family from Montreal. She worked in their stores for many years before opening her own in 1974. Her designs were worn by many celebrities, including Alanis Morrisette and featured in many Canadian fashion publications such as “Flare” and “Chatelaine”. Her pride and joy was her Edwardian Courtesan dress winning first prize in the UK and working on the wardrobe for the CTV (Nickelodeon) children’s show called “You Can’t Do That On Television” with one of her favorites Ruth Buzzi.

Linda’s first husband was a French Canadian Sonny Bono look-a-like from Sherbrooke, Quebec who remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown to this day.(actually heard from him in May of 2015) Her second marriage to mastermind Forbes 10,000 Angelo Seccaspina produced two sons. Her sons, Schuyleur Alexander Arthur Eliseo and Perry Ellis Addison along with Stephanie (nee McGonegal) and Grandchildren Sophia and Tenley mourn her loss and they still crab about their chosen birth names to this day.

family“La famila at Nona’s 2014”

Seccaspina is also survived by Steve Yaver, who showed her what quality life was all about and that she did not need to keep 67 bras in her wardrobe to live a normal live. Also mourning her loss is Steve’s mother, political analyst Marsha Shearer and their respective families. The children of her late sister Robin Anne Nutbrown (Adam, Jessica and Matthew ) also survive Linda.


Linda wished for no memorial service but (paid) friends Lisa Crandall and Nancy Erwin asked to submit their thoughts on Linda.

“I will remember your generous spirit and I will forever salute you for doing the things you felt you must to be true to yourself. You are the kind of woman I can only aspire to be Linda – just remember to take care of yourself in heaven as well as you took care of the people around you.”..

Lisa Crandall- Iroquois,Ontario

“You were without a doubt the most stubborn woman I have ever met but then you had a heart as big as the sea and as wide as the ocean. We met by accident but you absolutely picked me up from the edge of hell. I can never forget you for that. I knew you would always be there no matter what. I always wanted to be the one that died first because I don’t want to be here without you..you stubborn horses-ass.”

Nancy Erwin- Pelham, Alabama

Linda requested no funeral or memorial. Instead, half her ashes were distributed in her Carleton Place, Ontario garden to the tune of Green Day’s song “I Hope You had The Time of Your Life” . The other half of her ashes she requested be distributed in the San Pablo Casino parking lot as close to the Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get.
May she rest in peace but we have a strong feeling she will be back as soon as she can. As Erwin said; she is one stubborn horses-ass!


Remember no matter who you were– you were always my family! I hope you have the time of your life!


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