Tag Archives: cowansville

Once Upon a Time it was Yesterday —- Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Once Upon a Time it was Yesterday —- Linda Knight Seccaspina

Once Upon a Time it was Yesterday Linda Knight Seccaspina

They say if you time travel in your dreams you might end up in a continuous loop, and if it were possible to go back a few years maybe we could undo our mistakes. Last night I found myself once again breathing in the past.

Sitting on a bench outside the old train station in Cowansville, Quebec in a dream, it seemed like forever, but in reality it was probably just a few minutes. Nothing had changed as the lunchtime whistle blew from the Vilas factory across the way, and the ghosts of workers past streamed out of boarded up doorways and broken windows.

The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
22 May 1987, Fri  •  Page 3

I saw the Realmont building and remembered it being such a mysterious place to some of us as teenagers. Whispers of what went on in that building were always on my mind and the secretive hygiene products of what we thought they sold were now irrelevant in my life.

I looked at the old bowling alley across the street and remembered the evenings spent in a cigarette smoke filled basement dancing to 60s music and the friends I will never forget.

Sitting on the cement steps of the old Voyageur Bus Terminal I watched my late Father trying to calm the owner, telling him to ignore the teenagers with their transistor radios as they were never going to take his jukebox business away. In reality all of us are just full of hot air and I had to giggle at my father’s lack of faith in technology. I snapped a photo of the two of them realizing it would probably only end up becoming memories and kept on walking down South Street stopping to peer into Hashim’s window.

I had spent a great deal of my youth shopping in this store and loved the smell of new clothing and running my hand down the long wooden counter on Friday nights. In those days you trusted your retailers, and so did my Father when I purchased a pair of lime green ‘leprechaun’ shoes there in the 60s for $7. I remember those shoes as being the most outrageous, but incredibly uncomfortable shoes I had ever worn. 

My Grandmother was sitting on the screened verandah and I waved as I walked by and said I would be back. She pointed to the big Shell truck that was unloading gas at the corner gas station. Every Friday evening the truck would pull up and the heavy smell of gas would invade the air. Grammy would put her hands on her hips and tell the driver that the next smoker who lit up was going to blow us all to kingdom come. My grandparents never owned a car so they had great difficulty understanding those who did.

I longed to see the shoes in Brault’s window as I had always admired their quality and cutting edge. The Anglican church beckoned me to pay homage to the place that I had spent a great deal of time in. The usually locked door was open and I looked inside and remembered the sound of the choir and the smell of the vestry that my Grandmother and I worked in every Friday night. I saw apple blossoms on the church pews for someone’s wedding and this seemed all too real and better to relive this just once more and not a thousand times again.

It was a debate where to stop next– Cowansville High School or Le Patio restaurant across the street. Both had been instrumental in my growing pains and I swore I heard the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” on a continuous loop and the smell of “patates frites avec sauce” filled the air.

I looked down the street and saw the shattered glass of the Mademoiselle Shoppe and knew I could not cross the bridge and go further because I was caught in a loop of that Winter day in 1959. Many children were hurt in a terrible accident which I am sure they too never ever forgot.

Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near and life now has to begin at the end of my comfort zone. My past has given me the strength and wisdom I have today and some things are better left in yesterday along with all the mistakes and regrets. What happened yesterday is just a story, and I accept the result of once having had the time of my life and know that you can always go back home– somehow.

My First Memory Of Remembrance Day — The Legion Kettle

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My First Memory Of Remembrance Day — The Legion Kettle

by Linda Knight Seccaspina

For Marjorie Gaw

Someone asked me why I post so much about Remembrance Day. Yes, I do post for days, and believe you me; it’s full of love. I was raised by former military men from the past wars that taught me that yes, there was crying, lots of crying, on Remembrance Day, but absolutely no shirking. NO siree! You had better be ready at dawn to march in the Cowansville, Quebec parade where your grandfather was one of the dignitaries, and your father marched in the parade with the other World War 2 vets.

I was raised on pomp and circumstance- pointe finale, as they say in French.

Every Saturday morning I would awake to rousing military 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 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 about it in his conversations. I don’t think anyone knew except for my sister and a few others.

I can remember two things in my early life,besides the music. One sitting on a bed in the Allan Memorial Centre watching my mother playing cards, who had no idea who I was. The next thing I remember is a great commotion at age 3 in my grandmother’s bedroom on the night of November 11th.- Remembrance Day.

After the days solemn occasions the Branch #99 Legion in Cowansville had a huge party that same night. Children of course were not allowed, and they spent the evening drawing tickets for various prizes among other things. I remember the bedroom being very cold as it always was because it was heated by the woodstove downstairs. My eyes were blurry and they were all crowded around me shouting that I had won a kettle at the Legion. My grandmother of course probably put my name on some tickets and here was this kettle two inches from my face being waved around. Was it to be mine?

I never did see that kettle again, except on my grandmother’s woodstove. I remember they soon turned the lights off and told me to go back to sleep. Go back to sleep? After winning a kettle at the Legion? How does one do that LOL? Anyways, there was to be no sleeping because my father had gone downstairs and turned on my grandfather’s Hi Fi and blasted the Massed Pipes and Drums throughout the house at full volume. I think that is the first time I cried hearing the pipes; more likely because I was scared. Today, and every day I remember all of those who lost their lives for us in past wars and I thank them.

“Remembrance Day is when the country stops for two minutes of silence, to pay respects to those who gave their lives and our veterans who fought for our freedom.”

—Douglas Phillips, Canadian writer

Grandfather Frederick J. Knight British Army World War 1
Great Grandmother Mary came over to Canada with her son Fred when he emigrated to Cowansville, Quebec after the war. His father Alexander Arthur Knight had left them. He ran a music publishing business in London to only die upon his entry into the United States to become a songwriter at the age of 53. His body was sent back and buried in Plymouth, but the cemetery was bombed in World War 2 and everything was destroyed. ( this is the postcard family kept all these years). Every time my grandfather tried to get her to immigrate she showed him this postcard and said this is what happens when you run away to America.
Armée – Militaires – Jour du Souvenir
Jour du Souvenir. De g. à d. : John Turner, Lionel Bélanger, Joseph-Léon Deslières, Roland Désourdy, Rév. Carl Gustafson, Jean-J. Bertrand, Rév. H. J. Isaacs, F. J. Knight (La Voix de l’Est, 13 novembre 1957)
Légion Canadienne
Élections à la Légion Canadienne. De g. à d., 1ère rangée : Grant Paterson, Arthur Barratt, Albert Strange, Yvon Gaudreau, Jacques Maurice. 2e rangée : F. J. Knight, Charles Renaud, Larry Labrecque, Albert Gagnon, Raymond Farrell, Malcolm Cady, Buster Damant (La Voix de l’Est, 18 janvier 1958 from Ville De Cowansville 1958

Cowansville, July 4 – The Canadian Legion, Cowansville branch, will ignaugurate Monday at 8.30 p.m., a drive to erect a fitting Cowansville Veteran’s Memorial Hall building in this city.Members of the Cowansville Branch, No. 99, of the legion are seeking premises containing necessary rooms for meetings and recreation. The site for the building has been given by Miss Nina M. Nesbitt, of Cowansville, and plans for the building have been provisionally approved.On the evening of the inauguration the speakers will be His Worship Mayor E.A. Boisvert, Maj. Gen. C.B. Price, D.S.O., D.C.M., E.D., president of the Canadian Legion, and Capt. Henry Gonthier, past provincial president.Veterans will then parade through the streets of Cowansville and a street dance will follow. The board of trustees is composed of Mayor Eugene Boisvert, L.L. Bruck, H.F. Vilas, A.G. Scott, D.J. Barker. Co-chairmen of the Cowansville Legion Memorial Hall Building Fund are, R.L. Brault and J.H. Wood, M.B.E., E.D. The president of the local legion is F.J. Knight.-The Montreal Gazette, July 6, 1946

Club Lions
Le comité de la vente d’essence à Cowansville ayant eu lieu le 2 juin au garage B.A. Service Station et au garage Mitch Bedard Auto Enrg. au profit des Lions pour l’aménagement du parc municipal. Première rangée : MM. Arthur Knight, M. Kastello, G. Dean, S. Harrington, B. Mc Crum. Deuxième rangée : MM. D. Morrison, Gordon Snyder, responsables; Vincent Léonard et L. Labrecque (La Voix de l’Est, 4 juin 1957)

Branch 99 of the Cowansville Legion that my Dad and grandfather marched in year-Photo from Ville de Cowansville

The Story of Trenches –Fred Knight Legion Branch #99 Cowansville

Our Fathers Never Talked About the War — Clippings of Norman Melville Guthrie

  1. The Names of the Exempt of Lanark County- WW1
  2. The Fighting Lads of Lanark County WW1–Who Do You Know?
  3. “Nanny Shail’s Nephew”– Gerald Whyte World War 2 Veteran
  4. Remembering Private Gordon Willard Stewart WW 2 Veteran
  1. 90 Day Fiance and Mail Order and War Brides
  2. The Home Guard of Carleton Place
  3. The War Children that Tried to Come to Canada–SS City of Benares
  4. The Children of Ross Dhu –Evacuation to Canada
  5. Does Anyone Know What This is?
  6. The Very Sad Tale of Horace Garner “Sparky” Stark of Carleton Place
  7. Did You Ever Notice This in Beckwith Park? Thanks to Gary Box
  8. George Eccles Almonte Hero!

Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

I still have my original crimping iron from the first day of the “Regretful HairStyles 80s” era. It’s the colour of pink candy floss and works better than anything new on the market. When it comes to crazy hair and makeup, no decade trumps the 1980s– but throwing this crimping iron in the trash can is out of the question at this point in my life. They say ‘Old is not gold’, but honestly this crimping iron is along for the ride like the wine coolers, the cassettes and the mall. So do I still crimp or curl my hair? Personally, I always try not to anger the beast, and most days my life is held together by a single bobby pin.

Regretfully, I lost a vintage 1920s Marcel curling iron in my hair styling repertoire that I found in my Grandparent’s barn on South Street in Cowansville, Quebec. It was part wood and part metal and should have had a danger sign on it. Vintage curling irons were once heated on the fire or the stove for the most part, so I used my grandmother’s wood stove to warm it up. I was warned never to curl your hair with a vintage curling apparatus as they are dangerous and you can burn your hair off, and might even singe your scalp. Each time I used it my grandmother would get hysterical and tell me to be careful. In the hair salons of days past they used to try it on a piece of paper first before they curled their clients’ hair. Why am I thinking there must have been a few minor salon fires in those days?

My grandmother, Mary Louise Deller Knight got her first perm when she immigrated to Canada and it really didn’t go very well. She kept telling the hairdresser her hair hurt under one of those over-sized dryers and no one listened. It was a sad day after that my friends. Mary loved to control everything in her life, and sad to say you can’t. That’s why hair was put on your head to remind you of that very thing. So after they lifted the lid,  a lot of Mary’s hair fell out and eventually grew back very thinly.

Mary tried every potion and lotion known to man and finally she gave up, and that’s when Eva Gabor came into her life. They always say that beauty comes from inside– inside a hair salon actually– and we would make quarterly trips to Montreal to buy her Eva Gabor wigs and I never ever discussed it. When she asked me questions about certain styles I chose my words very wisely—until her golden years. That’s when she plopped those wigs on her head sideways, backwards, and any other position known to man, and someone had to tell her. 

It doesn’t matter who you are, just remember that no one really has control over their lives and your hair is here to remind you about that fact. On great days it swings like the hair in an old Breck commercial and on the bad days it’s frizzy and wavy when you can expect a day of total loss of control. You are as strong as the hairspray you use and always remind folks that the messy bun you are sporting actually took 18,501 tries. Thank you to the past few weeks of Canadian humidity– I always wanted to look likeThe Lion King said no one ever. Your comb is not a wand.

In the end my grandmother made me promise that when she died to make sure her wig was on her head straight which I did. Dead or alive– you need to look like you are not having a bad hair day, as after all, no one is looking at your shoes.

Every Mile is a Memory -Linda Knight Seccaspina

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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

Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina 1953 Cowansville, Quebec

Remembering Courage Strength and Love- Linda Knight Seccaspina

By the 1930’s 90% of the urban population was dependent on a wage or salary, and most families you knew lived on the edge. Living in the city meant reliance on a male family member with a job to stay alive, and if you lived on the farm you counted on what you grew to feed everyone.

As a child, my Grandmother used to tell me all sorts of stories about the Depression. Each morning she made sandwiches for the hungry people knocking on her door, and her weathered screened verandah sometimes became a shelter for homeless people during rainy nights.  The train station was just a few blocks down from where they lived on South Street in Cowansville, and those that rode the freight trains would get off daily to see if they could find work or food. 

I was always told that we had a hobo mark on our side door, and Grammy Knight would also take in needy families until they got on their feet. Grampy once said that he never knew who would be sitting across from him nightly at the dinner table. Each time my Grandmother asked him to go to the grocery store to get another loaf of bread for someone in need he went without complaining.

One day Grammy hired a young homeless woman named Gladys who worked for her until she died. I was barely eight years old when Gladys passed, but I still remember her like yesterday. Gladys was an odd looking woman who tried to hide her chain smoking habit from my Grandmother. The manly-looking woman would talk up a storm while she cleaned with stories that young ears should have never heard– but I always did.

Gladys would tell me all about her days during the depression as a teenager, where she would hide along the tracks outside the train yards. She would run as fast as she could along the train as it gained speed and grab hold and jump into the open boxcars. Sometimes, she missed, and sometimes she watched some of her friends lose their legs, or their lives, as they jumped off as the train was reaching its destination.

There was nothing left at home for her during those horrible years of the Depression. One Sunday they were without money for the church collection plate and under one of the old rugs they finally found a dime which they proudly placed on the collection plate. 

There were just too many mouths to feed and Gladys knew she wasn’t going anywhere if she remained at home. So she just rode the rails as it was free and she knew she would find food somewhere, which was more than she was going to do at home.  She cut her hair, wore overalls and a cap, and survived life on the road until my Grandmother hired her.

Gladys ended up dying in her sleep in ‘the back room’ of my Grandparents home. After she died, my Grandmother promptly labelled it ‘Gladys’s room’. When I was older and came home on weekends, that very same room was where I slept. You have no idea how many times I thought I saw Gladys in the dark shadows scurrying around with her feather duster, and yes, still chain smoking.

When I was older my Grandparents would make a simple dinner for themselves. My Grandfather would cut up tomatoes, add mayo like a dressing with salt and pepper. While I watched him eat,  I would say, “is that all you’re having !!?? He would reply to me,

“I’m from a time when you looked in the icebox and you put together what was in there and that’s what you had. Remember that “my birdie” … it isn’t always right there for you when you get home . Money was scarce and we had to survive on what we grew in the garden. We learned to use everything and had no waste”.

My Grandparents taught me a lot about life. I never thought I would be my Grandmother, but here I am now. They taught me to count my blessings, not my troubles, and to “show up” for people. Your ancestors that lived through those times were brave and they never judged a book by its cover. You just never know as they say, the things you take for granted might be something others are praying for.

Fred and Mary Knight Cowansville Quebec – Photo from Linda Knight Seccaspina Collection

Do Gopher’s Regrow Tails? Tales of the Depression

Ramsay 1927 — The Depression

345 Franktown Road- Wave’s Inn– photo Lorie Paul
Hi Linda. My name is Lorie Paul. I moved to Carleton Place last October, but have had a family cottage on the lake for over 60 years. My Dad (Kenneth Paul) grew up on Napoleon St. I have this picture of my Dad working at what was a lunch counter at 345 Franktown Road (Wave’s Inn). He would have been around 14 or 15 at the time, so early to mid 1930s.
I have always wondered who the other gentleman in the picture was. Wondering if I should post the picture to see if anyone knows who it is, and perhaps a family member would like to see it as well. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post in any of the Carleton Place FB pages. My dad is standing on the left in the picture. Thanks so much, and have a great day.

When the Skeletons Finally Come Out of the Closet “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”

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When the Skeletons Finally Come Out of the Closet “D-I-V-O-R-C-E”

My grandmother on the maternal side was Gladys Ethelyn Griffin Crittenden. She was born and grew up in Laconia, Belnap New Hampshire. She married my Grandfather George Crittenden in 1917 in Montreal and had my mother in 1929. She died at the age of 39 and no mention of her daughter was mentioned in her obit.

The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
15 Apr 1935, Mon  •  Page 7

When I was a child I heard whispers that I am sure children were not supposed to hear. I knew my Grandfather had a few women that were not my Grandmothers, but one was not supposed to talk about things like that. For years I wondered why the name Cecile was said with a horrified face.

One day at a 10 am Church service I was sitting with my grandmother in our usual pew when someone with heavy perfume tapped my grandmother on the shoulder. My grandmother quickly looked at me in horror and her lips became pursed. The strange woman waved to me and my grandmother clutched my hand very quickly and told me not to speak to her.

Well, I thought, here we are in a place of God and my grandmother is not being too neighbourly. The church service ended and we left quickly. It did not stop the lady and she followed quickly behind us. In fact, she followed us all the way home, and into the verandah where she sat down on one of the chairs. My grandmother instructed me to go into the kitchen while she talked to this woman.

The woman quickly vanished after my grandmother spoke to her and I don’t think I ever saw her again. My grandfather had just passed away in Seattle and apparently it had something to do with that. My grandmother said she wanted money and expected to be in the will as she was “Cecile”. I never found out who “Cecile” really was until today. I just assumed that she was one of my grandfather’s former girlfriends.

My mother from the ages of 14-18 was in the Ste Agathe Sanitarium because she had tuberculosis and had one lung removed. I heard the stories many times about my Grandfather’s wife that had burned all my mother’s things and sold her piano because she had convinced my grandfather that my mother was coming back. But was that true? When my mother was released she never did go back to Park Extension in Montreal, and instead went to Cowansville, Quebec to work at Bruck Mills.

Apparently my mother not coming home and being an only child caused a rift between my grandfather and Cecile and the marriage went south. Really south.There was no uniform federal divorce law in Canada until 1968 and this was the very early 50s. Instead, there was a patch-work of divorce laws in the different provinces, depending on the laws in force in each province at the time it joined Confederation. In Quebec, the Civil Code of Lower Canada declared that “Marriage can only be dissolved by the natural death of one of the parties; while both live it is indissoluble”.

The English Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 provided that a husband could sue on grounds of adultery alone, but a wife would have to allege adultery together with other grounds.The only way for an individual to get divorced in the provinces where there was no divorce law—as well as in cases where the domicile of the parties was unclear—was to apply to the federal Parliament for a private bill of divorce. These bills were primarily handled by the Senate of Canada where a special committee would undertake an investigation of a request for a divorce. If the committee found that the request had merit, the marriage would be dissolved by an Act of Parliament.

So today, I found out that my Grandfather had to apply to Parliament for a divorce on the grounds of adultery.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
30 Jun 1953, Tue  •  Page 24

Of George Arthur Crittenden, of Montreal, Quebec; praying for the passage of an Act to dissolve his marriage with Cecile David Crittenden. 1953 November

MONDAY, 7th December, 1953. The Standing Committee on Divorce beg leave to make their one hundred and twentieth Report, as follows:- 1. With respect to the petition of George Arthur Crittenden, of the city of Montreal, in the province of Quebec, clerk, for an Act to dissolve his marriage with Cecile David Crittenden, the Committee find that the requirements of the Rules of the Senate have been complied with in all material respects. 2. The Committee recommend the passage of an Act to dissolve the said marriage. All which is respectfully submitted. W. M. ASELTINE, Acting Chairman.

Crittenden. George Arthur Petition, 40; reported, 125; adopted, 136. Bill (N-4)-lst, 2nd and/3rd, 153-154. Passage by Corns., 245. Message, 246. R.A., 279. Ch. 161.

So I am assuming it was easier for a man to get a divorce from his wife in those days and since adultery was the only way to get a divorce– the woman had to suck it up.

So, maybe the story was all wrong from the beginning and I am starting to give Cecile the benefit of the doubt even though she was not kind to my mother. Maybe she did have an agreement with my grandfather that he said: ‘ If I get this divorce using you as the ‘ bad guy” I will leave you something in my will”.

Quebec has been slow on giving civil rights to married women: until 1954, a married woman was legally listed as “incapable of contracting”, together with minors, “interdicted persons”, “persons insane or suffering a temporary derangement of intellect … or who by reason of weakness of understanding are unable to give a valid consent”, and “persons who are affected by civil degradation”

The removal of the married woman from this list, however, did little to improve her legal situation, due to marriage laws which restricted her rights and gave the husband legal authority over her: legal incapacity was still the general rule until 1964. A woman did not have equal rights with her husband regarding children until 1977.

So why else would she have turned up after he had passed away 20 years later– had not something been promised to her for a facility in the divorce. After all- she was labelled the bad guy in family stories.

I guess we will never know now, but now I know the rest of the story.

Park Extension Montreal

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Did you know?

It has been argued that one of the explanations for the current high rates of cohabitation in Quebec is that the traditionally strong social control of the church and the Catholic doctrine over people’s private relations and sexual morality, resulting in conservative marriage legislation and resistance to legal change, has led the population to rebel against traditional and conservative social values and avoid marriage altogether. Since 1995, the majority of births in Quebec are outside of marriage; as of 2015, 63% of births were outside of marriage.

Related reading

Let’s All Go to The Drive-in!

Patriotic Stink Bugs Celebrating the 4th of July as an Ameri-Canadian Child

Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina

I Am Who I am Because of You

My Name is Bernice — A Letter to a Daughter

The Old Church in Island Brook That Needs a Home

What Do You Do if You Just Can’t Walk Right In?

We Are Family

The Summer of 1964

Did They Try to Run the World?

Sometimes You Just Have to Wave Pom Poms Right?

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Sometimes You Just Have to Wave Pom Poms Right?
Ville de Cowansville
February 20, 2010  · 

Ballpark Bernard Street -1955– Cowansville Quebec
Bruck Mills opened this park in July of 1946

One day sitting at the Bluebird Restaurant on Main Street in Cowansville having french fries and a coke I had an epiphany. I was too young for Harry’s Poolroom just around the corner on South Street, but hopefully not too young for my dreams glancing back at me from a Seventeen Magazine.

The centrefold that month in 1962 was full of cheerleaders from all over the country and at age 11 going 12 my summer goal was to be one of them. Being in the chubby category and not enjoying sports one bit– it was going to be a challenge to achieve my dream. I told myself that cheerleading was not a sport, and I should be able to wave pom poms quite effectively without a lot of sweat.

In those days there were no tumbling or fancy pyramids, and to be quite honest it was basically just a girl’s fan club for the team. Comparing the cheerleaders now from the 60s with their pleated skirts and modesty, who knew what it was going to evolve into?

Later that week I found out that a junior league summer football team was being formed called the Cowansville Colts and they were looking for cheerleaders. If you look on Facebook, not much can be found about the team. Actually, people seem more interested in remembering what the old A & P looked like on the Main Street rather than a local team that won less than a handful of games. In 2017 on Facebook’s Ville de Cowansville page Jacques Giarde asked for any photos or memories of the Colts from the Brome-Missisquoi Junior  League. Nary a one came up. It goes to show you in those days when the cheer section started for the game we didn’t turn into Beyonce. History would have always documented ‘Beyonce-ness‘ no matter where or when it was.

Somehow I was picked to be a cheerleader for the Cowansville Colts team and some of the mothers took our waist measurements for our pleated white skirts being teamed up with a blue sweatshirt. Of course there were mandatory oversize white bloomers that looked like they came from granny’s underwear selection. There is no doubt that my waist measurement was as big as my dreams, but no one said anything about it. The first game was to be held at the Bernard Street ball park which was just around the corner from my home on Albert Street. This was the place in town that everyone in Cowansville went to– from baseball in the summer to a huge skating rink in the winter. If you were involved in any kind of local sports this was sports central in town.

All week long we practised at the ballpark with cheers I can only find on Google now from some game in Pennsylvania in 1959. But, even though I will be 70 this year I can still remember every word of those cheers and the moves. Granted, if you ask me what I did 10 minutes ago, I can’t remember, but ask me to recite those cheers and I can replicate them- without leg movements though. Coordination is now gone with the wind.

That summer we cheered at games in Cowansville, Knowlton, Sutton etc.– and at the end of each game I went from well kept cheerleader to looking like an apocalyptic disaster trying to cheer this team on to win. But, win they did not. In two minutes and thirty seconds at half time of each game we tried to make the team understand what we gals with the pretty white bows in our hair wanted. But, our cheers never seemed to catch on.

In 1962, may it be recorded, the Cowansville Colts only won one game– the last one, and the next summer of 1963 I was shipped off to Seattle, Washington as my mother had died that year. The Beatles suddenly replaced cheerleading in my life and when I returned home in August I wanted nothing to do with football or white pleated skirts. 

I guess that summer of 1962 was all about trying to be successful in what you dream about and especially losing the fear of failure. You have to start somewhere, and maybe that push in cheerleading led me up to touching Paul McCartney’s hair at the Edgewater Inn in Seattle in 1963– or having the nerve to sit outside Alice Cooper’s house in Greenwich, Conn. All I knew was that I had figured out that no matter what you look like: If you are chubby, short or tall, it just doesn’t matter. In reality the best cheer in the world is to cheer somebody else up- remember the power is never given to you– you just have to take it!

Bring it on!

From Ville de Cowansville on facebook

Le Yamaska 19 sept 1962

Les Frontenacs de Farnham ont défait les Colts de Cowansville, en dernière minute, ce fut une surprise avec un record définitif de 21 à 19.

Cowansville – Dans une finale surprise, les Frontenacs de Farnham se sont arrangés pour faire le toucher gagnant sur les Colts de Cowansville qui joueront fortement jusqu’à la fin de la partie ou les Frontenacs ont fait le dernier toucher pour ainsi gagner la partie. Il était apparent que près des dernières minutes, la ligne défensive de Cowansville éyait affaiblie considérablement et le champ arrière de Farnham usa d’un peu de stratégie pour enserrer tout les points gagnants. Les Colts dans le 1er quart, marquèrent 6 à 0, dans le 2ème, 7 à 6, et dans le troisième, 19 à 15. Mais à la fin, les Colts ne semblèrent pas capable d’avancer assez pour rester à côté de la marge d’un toucher.

Bien que cela soit un autre désappointement pour les Colts qui venaient juste de manquer une défaite avec les Larks de Knowlton, la semaine dernière, les Colts joueront la semaine prochaine pour une première partie de semi-finale, la première qui se tiendra à Knowlton, samedi prochain le 15 septembre. La deuxième partie se tiendra à Cowansville, la semi-finale sera le total des points de séries entre les deux clubs. Le gagnant des semi-finale jouera en première place avec les Frontenacs de Farnham dans un 2 de 3. Les points d’aujourd’hui ont été comptés pour Cowansville par : M. Laliberté (13), D. Peacock (21), ayant chacun un touché, et P. Jordan entra un point qui fut un succès. Pour Farnham se furent G. Harrison (31), un touché, R. Tarte (25) deux touchés, D. Racine (27) et H. Takeda eurent un et deux points respectivement.

Les majorettes des Colts appuièrent parfaitement leur club comme celles de Farnham qui sont bien organisées. M. H. Dubois de Montréal arbitre du QRFU arbitait la partie avec l’aide de Dick Ferris de Farnham et de Rupert Dobbin de Sweetsburg. M. E. Viens de Cowansville prenait les minutes et M. Ray Tétreault de Farnham était le correcteur de celles-ci. Les jeunes adeptes du football sont invités à aller à Knowlton pour les semi-finales dans la cours de l’école anglaise.

Venez supporter votre club local.

Le Yamaska 17 oct 1962

Dans la ligue Brome-Missisquoi Junior les jeunes représentants de Farnham ont terminé en beauté leur saison en remportant la grande finale aux dépens des Larks de Knowlton par le compte de 24 à 19. See Less

— with Jacques Giard.

Comments

Jacques Giard

Un appelle à tous…. Si vous avez des photos ou autres articles des ces ligues de football… Pourriez vous poster le tout ici…Je fais une recherche sur le football et son histoire dans la région…Merci

Spittle Spatter and Dirty Faces of Yore

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Spittle Spatter and Dirty Faces of Yore

Mrs. N. C. Waugh states that it is quite commonly believed
on Manitoulin Island that the mother’s saliva is good for certain
minor troubles of babies; for instance, inflammation of the eyes

Dirt was always my grandmother’s enemy. Mary Louise Deller Knight could never tolerate a child with a dirty face or a runny nose. She always said that under her watch I would never look poor or uncared for. When you walked in the house graced with dirt and she spotted it– you never ever pulled away. Even if you thought it wasn’t there, trust me Grammy Knight found it.

I was never the neatest kid in the world and I’m still a messy eater. I don’t think I was ever around for hand to mouth education. There isn’t a meal where I don’t drop something on me and my husband agreed while I was writing this– so no wonder she was busy all the time scrubbing my face and various food spots on my clothing.

Thankfully she was not like some parents I had seen who would have their kids stick their tongue out and then their mothers would dab it with a napkin or tissue. Then there was the dreaded spit thumb which thankfully I never saw. The worst was when I was with a school friend and Grammy tackled something on my face she didn’t care for. I remember that particular friend telling everyone at school what my grandmother did— so I responded that she got her freckles from standing behind a cow when it pooped on a rock.

My mother was nowhere as bad as my grandmother and at least she used a damp washcloth, but my grandmother had the enthusiasm of a carpenter sanding a large two-by-four. To this day, I would swear that I have one less layer of skin because of her. I am so pale and glow in the dark thanks to my grandmother and her persistent scrubbing.

My grandmother like myself always had something to clean with. I have heard people tell me they always will remember me having a tissue in hand or always able to pull one from the sleeve of any garment. I learned from my Grandmother that it was a necessary life accessory and sometimes Grammy stuffed her ‘cleaner’ in her corset bra.

People of  a certain age will all have one distinct memory that no self-respecting lady of any age ever left the house without a hanky tucked into her purse, a dress pocket or her cleavage. Goodness knows, one couldn’t be seen putting a finger anywhere near one’s nose without a hanky.

Really a  bit of spit on a hanky never hurt us, but there had to be some health and safety regulations about this horrible habit. Wasn’t there? All I know is in those days there wasn’t an antibacterial wipe in sight! According to my Grandmother I was given life out of my mother’s intestines (?), and the salvia/hankie ritual wasn’t going to kill anyone.

Did these “unsanitary” actions help us build our immune systems?

Now they run around with antibacterial this and antibacterial that and kids have colds, flus, pneumonia, and other illnesses that only have letters. I read there was a new cleaner called Mom’s Spit and that it was great for faces, necks, clothes, shoes, floors, counters, bathrooms, automotive degreasing and more. I thought it must be amazing, and then I found out it was just a funny ad for 409. 

In 2018 news reports from  KXAN in Texas reported that mother’s saliva helped stop allergies and people argued that kissing your baby too frequently could pass on a mother’s oral decay. In the 50s and 60s mom or grandma’s spit was an all-in-one cleaner and we never thought anything about it. It was always on hand in an instant for dirty faces, Formica counters, mirrors and even spit shined shoes. My grandmother always warned me however if you were going to spit clean like she did, never spit up because whatever goes up always comes down.

Shaking Things Up! Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Shaking Things Up! Linda Knight Seccaspina

Shaking Things Up!

Linda Knight Seccaspina

Last night I had a dream about a former neighbour’s Salt and Pepper Shaker collection. That is a pretty strange thing to remember in the back of your memory files, but the late great Mrs. Wilson played a large part in my preteen years. Meg Wilson lived next door to us when her daughter Verna was going to Cowansville High School in the late 50s and early 60s. My mother was nearing the end of her life during those years and Mrs. Wilson was like a guardian angel for our whole family. She cooked, she cleaned and she kept the family together.

If I had a problem she was always there with her firm but kind words. I played sick a lot more times than necessary in those days and after she had made us lunch I always went over to her home to play Yahtzee. She made wax candles and waxed leaves, and best of all she had this amazing salt and pepper collection.

It didn’t matter how many pairs she had on her shelves, the pair I was most attracted to most were the milkshake shakers. One was brown for chocolate and the other one was pink for strawberry. Set in glasses with a silver holder it reminded me of the milkshakes at the Bus Terminal on South Street in Cowansville.

We had a lot of great restaurants in those days on South and Main Street, but my father always loved to go to the old Bus Terminal, a hop skip and a jump from the train station and the Vilas Furniture Co. I could never figure out why he loved that place so much as it was very small and busy. We could have sat in a nice booth at the restaurant across the street, but we always went to the terminus. 

My Dad liked conversation, there is no doubt about that, and this was one place he could indulge in his favourite pastime. He would always greet strangers with a firm handshake and a very loud greeting,

”Hello, Arthur Knight from Cowansville”. 

It didn’t matter where he was located the greeting was always the same and he had this habit of talking with his eyes closed. I never understood why he did that until I met other people that did the same thing. They say that closing your eyes while speaking is a way of going inside to connect with your inner feelings. It is a common gesture that was seen in philosophers. That my Dad definitely was, he had an opinion on everything.

They kept things simple at the Bus Terminal restaurant.They scribbled your order onto a pad of paper and asking for substitutions from a limited list of straightforward mains, sides and desserts would have gotten you a dirty look. I can’t remember much of what I ate there but I always ordered a milkshake similar to Mrs. Wilson’s salt and pepper shakers. A tall glass with a straw and the traditional tall stainless steel cup with the remains was served to you. Another thing I seem to remember is that the traditional small glass of water they served to everyone seemed warm and I bet it came with a great amount of pollutants from the public water system. I think whatever my Dad ate there certainly involved fries served with a side of smoke. It was common in those days for eateries to be shrouded in a veil of cigarette smoke as diners puffed throughout the meal– and my Dad was one of them.

Conversation was always centred around the counter and banter would be continuous between the tables and counter as people loved to flock there for a cup of coffee, read the newspaper, and have a sandwich and a cold Coca-Cola on tap at the fountain. Around Christmas time the counter folks would be eating that traditional roast turkey dinner which cost a mere 75 cents in those days.

The jukeboxes blared above the conversation and you had to wonder how anyone understood anything while the younger crowd controlled the countless song selections. I always took my time sipping that milkshake as I watched people purchase tickets for the daily Voyageur busses and people throwing some change on the counter as there were no credit cards amid boisterous goodbyes.

One day I heard my father talking with the owner of the Bus Terminal and the owner was worried that times were changing and he might have to close. Eavesdropping  I heard conversations of how the owner was going to put air conditioning in hoping to draw in customers, especially during hot, summer days.

Then there was the fact that the soda fountain business was slowing down because of others doing the same things. Ice cream sodas and egg creams were on the wane and  TV dinners were now available in every grocery store. People just began eating out less in the ’60s. But, the worst thing he said was that transistor radios were putting the jukebox business out of business. As I sat in the car with my tiny ear buds on listening to my transistor radio I thought he had a point. But there was my father throwing his hands up in the air saying there was no way that was going to happen.

My father argued that jukeboxes were a test market for the record companies and that 75% of the records produced during that time went to jukeboxes first. He kept telling the owner over and over not to worry. I sat there feeling sad as I knew all my friends walked around with transistor radios and they were not going anywhere. With my head down I also knew it was the beginning of no longer relying on the jukebox for music.

After that day we never seemed to go to the Bus Terminus to eat, and things were changing quickly. The last time I went to the South Street Bus Terminus was a  year later when my father put me on the bus to Montreal where I was beginning a new era in my life. A few years later my Dad drove me out to see Mrs. Wilson who was living on the Hadlock Farm near Frelighsburg with her daughter and son-in-law. Things had changed like the Bus Terminal restaurant but she still had her salt and pepper shakers. There were still some familiar ones, the ones family gave her and the ones she got on vacation. But there sitting on one of the shelves were the milkshake salt and peppers that I loved. Even though life sends lots of change you have to take life with a grain of salt, and even though things come and go in the era of a head shake and a handshake I still prefer a milkshake.

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Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

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Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause! — Linda Knight Seccaspina

In 1967 I was very excited to go to the London School of Fashion Design in London, England. Sadly my mentor, my grandfather, died that August so all was shot to hell as they say. My Dad was very busy with his business, being a town councilman and a man of the community. I was barely 16 and one thing that had gotten his attention was that I was very different and he didn’t care for it. I dressed in the latest fashion styles that I made and I stuck out like a big sore thumb. In a small town where your father is a prominent fixture word travels around like a brush fire that someone is out of the box somewhere.

I was labeled “the daughter that Arthur Knight had so much trouble with”. Yes, I was probably and admitedly a rebel teeenager, there is no argument to that. But, fashion was my first love, and I knew I would never work in a bank or become a home economics teacher. 

So after heated arguments with my father I left home and headed to Montreal. I attended fashion design school where I instantly became bored. Instead of the great 60’s fashion and styles that I was expecting, my teacher made me make patterns of 1950’s styles. After classes I would go into store after store, just absorbing the culture and the “joie de vivre”  of Montreal fashion.

Graduation couldn’t come fast enough for me. After completing my course, I had to find a job. Twiggy, Mary Quant and all the Carnaby Street styles were everywhere and guess who was wearing them? My Dad was getting remarried and gave me 75 dollars to buy something for his wedding. Being the drama queen I purchased a black velvet Twiggy mini dress and a black floor length Dr. Zhivago style coat. It was a real floor duster with black faux fur trim. Omar Shariff would have been proud– or maybe not!

When I went for job interviews I had to wear that outfit as my personal fashion budget was bankrupt.  Most clothing manufactures were not yet into the Carnaby look in 1967 and I was told time after time:

 “Kid, get yourself another coat– or you will never get a job!”

Defiant, of course I had to be me and soon got a job at Le Chateau on St. Catherine Street hemming pants. It was the very first Le Chateau store and when I left 6 months later they were opening their second store on St. Hubert. 

With a year long fashion design course under my belt I finally found a job at THE FINE TOGS CLOTHING CO. It was a children’s manufacturer run by Blossom and Hy Hyman. Actually Blossom ran the company and Hy smiled a lot and played golf. They thought I was a spunky kid and if I had stayed there would have probably been retiring from the company about five years ago. I was raised by my British Grandmother, but there is definitely Jewish blood flowing through my veins and now now I was working for a Jewish firm and I was getting an education, in more ways than one.

If my grandmother Mary was my foundation for my hard working ethics then Saul Cohen was the drywall. He expected me to arrive at 7:30 am  every morning and the man worked me to the bone. I worked in the cutting department, did sewing, swept floors, did book work and worked in the show room.There was not one stone that he did not make me turn over. He was relentless and when he found out about my long lost heritage he made sure I knew about it. When I complained about maybe leaving at 6 pm he would turn around and say to me:

“Do you know how our people suffered?”

Enough said!

One day he decided that I was ready to represent the company selling their clothing line at Place Bonaventure clothing mart. He told me I had to wear something conservative. So I did what every other girl my age did. I went to SEARS and bought THE SUIT. It was a navy blue  matching box jacket, and knee length pleated skirt. I had red shoes and red earrings to match– and I wore it exactly 4 times.

I applaud Saul for everything he taught me and how someone actually got me to wear something that wasn’t black. But, word got around the clothing mart about me and I was soon hired by a competitive children’s wear company which was just one more step on the way to becoming a designer. To this day I never lost control of my fashion life and bought sweatpants. Give a girl the right shoes and the right outfit and she can conquer the world.

Linda Knight Seccaspina 1968 and Saul Cohen