Tag Archives: Quebec

The Horrors of Wool, Bread Bags, and Red Dye Number 7

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The Horrors of Wool, Bread Bags, and Red Dye Number 7

The Horrors of Wool, Bread Bags, and Red Dye Number 7 Linda Knight Seccaspina

During the 50s because of the baby boom, there was suddenly a high demand for more stylish clothing for children. Many boys began to wear jeans to elementary school– but girls of all ages were still expected–if not required-to wear dresses and skirts for school, church, parties, and even for shopping.

Out of all the outfits I wore as a child I remember my 3-piece red wool winter snowsuit. It was a short red wool swing jacket with matching jodhpurs and a hat. That particular red outfit and enduring Toni Perms would have been enough to drive me to a psychologist for years.  

There was nothing like playing out in the snow with this 3 piece red wool outfit on. I have to wonder what manufacturers and mothers were thinking. It wasn’t warm, and when it got wet it weighed triple its weight. The scratchy wool fabric rubbed my thighs so much that chafing couldn’t even be called a word. 

Red dye number 7 has never been safe for the world, but in the 50s when you removed coloured wet wool your skin matched the shade you had been wearing. It took a lot of scrubbing to get the colour residue off, but nothing was redder than my raw inner thighs. I had matching red rubber boots and sometimes I had to wear bread bags on my feet in those boots to stay dry.

My friends next door hated the snow boots they had to wear. They were black boots with buckles on the front that every male in any generation seemed to wear. They were tough to put on and were even more difficult to remove. Worn over shoes, the heels of your  shoe would tend to become wedged in the narrow neck of those boots.

To remove the boots at school, the boys would have to sit down on the hallway floor and try to unbuckle the now soaking wet buckles, which was difficult to do with cold hands. The boys could never seem to get their feet out of them without a fight. One boot or the other was always stuck halfway off, with one foot seemingly wedged in at some strange angle. Parents thought the solution to this was once again to place empty bread bags over their  shoes before the boots, but it never helped. That idea only caused them to have to deal with wet, empty bread bags along with the boots. At least their parents were there to help in the fight to get the boots on at home, but at school the kids were on their own. By the time those feet got into the still damp boots, the school was nearly empty. 

I hated wearing navy blue school tunics and white blouses and Monday seemed to be the only day I could wear the same white blouse as Friday without anyone knowing. In those days we wore uniforms so everyone would be dressed the same and no one would feel slighted. 

Then there were the tights– yes, the tights. They were so uncomfortable and scratchy that I couldn’t help but complain. I even snuck into one of the church’s closets one Sunday before the service and took the tights off. Unfortunately my Grandmother caught me  without my tights under my Choir robe and told me sternly, ”you have to put them on now!” I told her that they were uncomfortable but she told me I had to wear them for the rest of the church service at least. There just seemed to be something unfeminine about not being able to sit down comfortably with the crotch sagging down to your knees.

Now, most fashion for kids is just as trendy as adult fashion– even more for school. Every style comes back, even if you don’t want it too. Today, you need a small loan to buy a school uniform and as for the bread bags, well, I hear Reynolds Oven Bags, size Large, do a better job than Wonder Bread bags! As for the chafing– at my age my thighs don’t chafe anymore. They just applaud my efforts as I move around.

Stay safe!!

Related reading

Fashion Faux Pas in the Cemetery

The Poker Face of Corsets and Waist Training -1800s Fashion Comes Back in Style

Saved by Her Corset

It’s Electrifying! Dr Scott’s Electric Corset

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes — Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Everybody Hurts – Sometimes — Linda Knight Seccaspina

Everybody Hurts – Sometimes Linda Knight Seccaspina– Sherbrooke Record Column

I don’t know if any lollipop in the world could have made me smile after lining up at the town hall, or was it the fire station, on the Main Street in Cowansville in the 50s. There we were– 100s of kids in line for a polio shot with doctors and nurses pushing those ugly needles down in our arms. Loud cries pursued like clockwork, and children were led out with a lollipop in their hands mixed with tears. That image has never left my mind, nor the two hours one Friday night at Dr. Roy’s office on South Street with someone trying to pin me down for yet another inoculation.

At my age now I have been picked and prodded all my life and one more is not going to make a difference. But this week I got a COVID booster and there was no treat for me after I had received it. I seem to miss that little act of kindness after something significant in my life. You go through hours of labour and at the end there is your baby, or you get hit by a car like I did at age 6, and there were stacks of Illustrated Classics Jesus comic books given to me by my Grandfather Crittenden.

So what happened and when?

Enduring a bout of strep throat at the age of 17 my Grandmother asked me what I wanted to eat as a special treat. I told her there was nothing I would enjoy more than KRAFT spaghetti. It had to be KRAFT, nothing else. After hours of dreaming about boxed spaghetti she turned up with a bowl of vegetable soup. Is that where it turned all wrong? Or was it just Mary Knight’s way of saying– everyone that hasn’t felt well should have vegetable soup, bread and butter and a piece of cheese for their first meal. 
All I know is that when I got that COVID booster this week, there was no lollipop, no stickers, just a full shot because I am 70. I could have really used a treat when I had the aftershocks afterwards: you know: “the fever, headache, fatigue and pain at the injection site”. For 24

hours I could not move, and in my mind an ear worm song of “It’s a Small World“ was playing in my head. It’s still playing actually.

My husband Steve understands ‘treats’ and even though I was dead to the world he asked me what I felt like eating. I said,

 “I would like a McDonalds Chicken Burger please”. 

He looked at me in the way Mary Knight used to look at me and said,

 “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a bowl of soup?” 

I gave him ‘the look’ which he understood immediately. I don’t know how husbands figure things like that out but there was no other conversation after that. But Steve doesn’t treat me like regular glue anyways, I’m always glitter glue to him.

As I began to eat that chicken burger I realized that was not what my body wanted, and could barely take a few bites. But that was my treat for all this and why didn’t my mind or body want the treat. It was obvious that my body was still in distress and Mary Knight’s remedy of a bowl of soup, bread and cheese would have been better. I went back to bed and never thought about it again.

At 2 am I woke up and my hair was soaked just like I had gone swimming. Obviously the fever had broken and my body was going back to normal. I smiled. Now where was that treat? Yes, I thought, I needed that treat even if it was now cold. I ventured downstairs quietly and looked in the fridge. Nothing there. Then I looked at the garbage pail. Sitting on top was the McDonald’s bag and there inside the box was my chicken burger. Some of you are saying,

“Oh no she didn’t”

I am telling you right now, “oh yes she did!”

Pulling a George Costanza from Seinfeld, I took out what was left in that container and I ate it all. You have heard the saying, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight”. It was after midnight, and I was going to have that treat still with the ear worm of It’s a Small World playing through my head.

Let’s Just “Gruel” in the New Year

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Let’s Just “Gruel” in the New Year

When I used to watch old movies as a child; gruel was served to orphans as an economic necessity. You certainly couldn’t feed hundreds of children steak and eggs on the city’s dime and Dickens loved using gruel as a metephor for cruelty. The Dickensian delights of the Victorian workhouse, immortalised in the moment when a starving Oliver Twist dares to ask for some more watery gruel.

In my family–the gruel came with much praise and many comments every day in January — undoubting the decision of its wholesomeness along with a small side bowl of prunes for everyone’s constitution. In today’s realm it would be much like yogurt attempts to advertise for the thoughts of regular constitution.

Gruel can actually be quite tasty they say. Mary Louise Deller Knight’s was not. Like the 1976 tune “Give Peace a Chance” I was instructed to give gruel a chance- every single day. The thin porridge has had a bad reputation with me ever since. My grandmother decided the month of January should be dedicated to getting everyone’s body ready for the rest of the Winter and layers of morning gruel lining my intestines would do it.

You know maybe if Grammy had followed the old recipe above I might have given it a chance. But- she made her slushy gruel, containing oats, water, milk and onion. That’s right — onion. As my grandfather would say:

“There’s no flavour at all without the onion.”

I begged to differ.

As she rejoyced about it ‘sticking to my insides’, today I would have retorted, “They call that Dysphagia!” In yesterday’s life it was “eat your meals or starve.”

Today, in these nutritionally conscious times, gruel is an all-rounder. It’s got all the carbs and water you need to barely survive for another day. For the health-conscious gruel can be made more interesting by adding bee pollen, maca, hemp seeds, coconut butter, lentil sprouts or fermented tree-nut cheese. Consider yourself warned this might become a new food trend!

Me? I think I will just eat my ethically-sourced, fair trade hat and avoid it like the Black Plague.

More gruel recipes click here.

Pease Pudding in the Pot, Nine Days Old

Times Of Love and Dreams to Share

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Times Of Love and Dreams to Share

2015

It is December 15th, almost a week before Christmas, and you would never know it. I wrote a piece a few years ago called “Searching For Christmas” and it seems, as the years go by, it disappears more and more. The Martha Stewart Christmas CD plays for the umpteenth time, and after 17 Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel I just can’t watch another. Or can I?


I had something happen to me a few years ago that was life altering. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it, and it has literally changed my perspective on life. It was almost like learning there was no Santa Claus when I was a child. That innocence that reinforced the goodness of mankind suddenly vanished. So, I sit here and ask myself, how many Christmases do I have left? What if I had not lived, and missed Christmas that year? Well, I did live, and Christmas is almost around the corner.

So I try to snap out of this funk and remember. I remember the smell of Christmas trees and their sharp pine pungent scent, and the smell of home baking in the air. To be honest, the last years of my childhood Christmases were not spent smelling a fresh evergreen tree. It was gazing at the latest model of Sears “best in the line ” decorator trees in my Grandmother’s living room. I remember the delicate fragile glass ornaments that belonged to years gone by and the blue lights on the tree.

I can still hear Miss Watson playing the church organ next to the Chrismtas tree at Trinity Anglican Church, which also shone with blue lights. I felt like it was something that was decided upon one Altar Guild Day in one fell swoop of a pact.  Can I still hear these women talking with their glasses perched on their noses and fluffing their short tight perms? Did these church ladies decide that blue lights, and only blue lights, should be on a Christmas tree? I am positive that’s what happened and then they all went home and changed their lights to blue in a no nonsense way.

Memories then flood my mind of  two weeks after Christmas in 1995 when my sons and I stood on top of a water- soaked carpet looking sadly at a completely black Christmas tree. Staring at the remainder of a horrible fire that burned everything the day before, my oldest son wondered if his purchase of one small TY Beanie Baby monkey started the fire that turned our lives upside down for over a year. He is very much like his mother. We dwell on things and don’t give them up. We are good at that.

But Christmas went on the next year and no one was a Negative Nancy. We still watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and baked cookies and hung up stockings and I still left small presents on the door steps of the elderly. So what to do? How do I get out of this Downer Dan mood? I decided to make  Butter Tarts–now that would make me feel festive.


Twenty minutes later after listening to Loreena McKennitt singing “Good King Wenceslas” for the umpteenth time, I take the tarts from the oven. They smell wonderful and I know they will be enjoyed. I turn the Martha Stewart Christmas CD off and file it away, not to be played for… let’s say…at least a day. Charlie Brown’s Christmas by Vince Guaraldi fills the air and I dance. I realize the holidays are what you make out of it and not to expect anyone to drop the Holiday spirit outside your bathroom door– because it just isn’t going to happen. Christmas just isn’t a season–it’s a feeling sometimes being torn for the familiar and just a chance to feel old feelings twice. If kisses were snowflakes I would send each and everyone of you a blizzard.

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.

Never Miss a Chance to Dance! Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Never Miss a Chance to Dance! Linda Knight Seccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina 1968 and Saul Cohen working at Place Bonaventure from-Ramblings of a Rebel with a Cause!

Never Miss a Chance to Dance!

No one in this world wanted to take over tap dancer Ann Miller’s job more than I did. After 70 long years of random attempts, all that remains is a pair of silver tap shoes tucked away in a cupboard long forgotten. I used to wear them on a day to day basis for many years as I always believed one should be on call if someone had the odd tap dancing job. In life I have always winged it: life, eyeliner, just everything.

As a child my mother told my father that I had natural rhythm and would probably belong to a professional dance troupe. Actually, what she really wanted me to be was one of the dancers on American Bandstand, but I had other goals in mind. When I was eight I wanted to fluff out my tutu and be the Sugar Plum Fairy so badly that I accidentally bumped the reigning fairy off the stage during practice. Seeing the stage was a foot off the ground, she was luckily not hurt, and I was to remain a Waltzing Flower forever.

At 17 I had my first “break”. I became one of the regular “crowd” dancers on a Montreal based TV show called “Like Young”. Every Saturday afternoon I lined up outside CFCF-TV sporting my grandmother’s orthopedic brown lace up shoes, ready to dance. Those borrowed shoes were just super for dancing and they looked fabulous with my floor dusting Le Chateau gabardine pants. I was nothing but double-trouble on the dance floor.

After the show was over we would all head downtown and refresh our spirits at the Honey Dew restaurant on Saint Catherine Street. One giant glass of Honey Dew along with a hot dog and then it was off to Place Du Soul. It was the “all ages” place to be, that was right across from the Greyhound Bus Station in case you had to leave town quickly. Each week I resumed my Sugar Plum Fairy dreams of long ago– only this time it was for the coveted title of go-go cage dancer. The elevated cages were about twenty stairs up a shaky ladder and it became a weekly goal to try and fight the others to be queen of the dancing soul-castle.

One weekend James Brown was the headlining act and even though I had issues with vertigo I decided I was finally going to be dancing in that cage that evening.  As I stood in line waiting my turn I told several people that the lead singer Bruce from “Les Sultans” was soon to be coming in the front door.

“Les Sultans” were the French Canadian version of the Beatles in those days, and I tell you that line stopped being a line in about two seconds flat. Smiling a very large sinister smile I climbed those twenty stairs wearing a short print mini dress, white boots and a huge white bow on top of my head. I never looked down once and realized quickly there was no lady-like way to climb that ladder without flashing my underpants. Remember, there is always a wee bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.

James started to sing, “I Feel Good,” and it couldn’t have been a better song. I stayed up in the cage as long as I could and danced my boots off. Others got tired of me hogging the limelight and tried to climb up and get rid of me. I threw my boots down one at a time.  Last song, bootless, and eyeliner running down my face James threw me a kiss in the air and sang “I Got You”. I would never live my mother’s dream of being one of Dick Clark’s dancers, but finally, I was the Sugar Plum Fairy of Soul and covered in a “Cold Sweat”!
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we should dance. When you are sixty and still dancing, you become something of a curiosity. If you hit seventy and you can still get a foot off the ground, you’re phenomenal. Now, with a cane, dancing can be difficult, but I still dance like nobody’s watching. Because, in reality, they aren’t watching you. That’s because they are all too busy checking their phones. Why be moody, when you can shake your booty!

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!

And Then There’s Maude —— Maud of the Willow Inn

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And Then There’s Maude —— Maud of the Willow Inn

I have personally never seen anything except maybe I saw a piece of an old print dress one night. I’m night auditor and I’ve heard a voice but not seen anything or any sign except maybe things dirtied after being cleaned-Last fall when we were filming a movie a dude saw her in the window.— Danny Delahunt

In 1837, a servant girl named Maud was murdered at what is now the Auberge Willow Place Inn in Hudson. Her crime? Overhearing a conversation she shouldn’t have about the Lower Canada Rebellion, a Palriote revolt against the British colonial power in Quebec. At least, that’s what local folklore will tell you. The Willow Inn is the subject of plenty of ghost stories, according to Dan Ducheneaux, the founder of Ghost Hunters of Ottawa for Scientific Truth, or GHOST. His organization, which is made up of hobbyists who lake a scientific approach to ghost hunting.

There are many questions in the air about Maud’s story, including whether she actually existed. “At this point, we don’t know if a murder actually did occur. There’s actually no historical documents proving that. We also don’t know if the girl’s name was Maud.

Legend has it that in 1837, a servant girl named Maud was murdered at the Willow Inn, one of many ghost stories involving the inn. According to the Hudson Historical Society, Francois-Xavier Desjardins ran a general store out of the inn at the time of Maud’s supposed murder. Desjardins was a known Patriot, Ducheneaux said, and the Willow Inn became a Patriotic meeting place under Desjardins’s stewardship.

The story says Maud was eavesdropping on a Patriotic meeting at the inn and thai she was murdered and buried in the basement of the inn, according to the historical society. “It’s quite an interesting slory. There (are) so many contradicting facts,” Ducheneaux said, adding that the inn’s patrons have reported hearing singing in the hallways and seeing apparitions. Patricia Wenzel bought The Willow Inn wilh her husband, David Ades. They had been coming to the inn for 30 years and even had their first few dates there, Wenzel said. The (ghost) stories kept coming to us. It’s a lot of stories, it’s not just one or two,” Wenzel said. While she said she doesn’t know how much validity there is to the tales, she was intrigued and she did her own research.

The Gazette

Montreal, Quebec, Canada12 Jul 2017, Wed  •  Page 3

Slamming doors, chairs knocked over, mysterious mushrooms and a singing voice are part of the spooky stuff attributed to Maud, a ghost said to be very much at home at Willow Place Inn in Hudson. While there are those who not only dispute Maud’s hauntings, they are dubious about the existence of a flesh-and-blood woman with that name, don’t tell Donald Major she’s just a flight of fantasy – he’s heard her go bump in the night too often to think otherwise. Sometimes her presence has been strong enough to send him racing out of the inn; where he worked as a bartender from 1971 to 1976. “I don’t think she was abad ghost but sometimes when I was there alone the noises she made would frighten me so much I would just run out of the place leaving all the doors unlocked,” he said.

Through the years, as the legend of Maud grow, historians have tried to set the record straight as to her identity. It is known that the house was built in 1820 as a private home for Frances Mallet and his family In 1824 it was bought and used as a general store by Xavior Desjardin, who held political meetings there: with the Patriotes during the 1837-1838 Rebellion. During these troubled times it was reported that firearms were forged in the cellar. At that time, according to the lore, a young girl by the name of Maud was employed there and she overheard the plans for the uprising at St Eustache that took place on Dec , 14,1837. – Maud had made it known that her sympathies were with the militia and she was murdered to keep her from informing on the Patriotes’ plans. She was secretly buried in the basement of the house and since then has been the resident ghost. Not so, according to Roy Hodgson, who says he believes in ghosts but that the Maud story is pure fabrication.

“It’s a historical fact that no one was ever killed in that house. I think it was all dreamed up to put some spice into a sleepy little town,” said the Hudson historian, who has written three books on local buildings and is past president of the Hudson Historical Society Like most lore, the story began with a kernel of truth, he said. There was a Mary Kirkbride who worked for Desjardin and she did inform the militia about the Patriotes plans to the burning of houses in the area. Desjardin was cleared of the charges but was captured and taken prisoner at the Battle of St. Eustache when the Patriotes were defeated.

But Hodgson’s documentation is a hard sell to those like Major who say they have felt the ghostly emanations of a woman who supposedly came to a bloody end. Another former employee says that while cleaning up in the dining room she felt Maud patting her back and at the same time there was a strong smell of damp moss. Those who are Maud believers and have worked at the inn contend that the ghost displayed definite mood swings. At times she could be like a playful child, hiding pens or bookends, and then she would become surly, particularly on cold nights when she was in a hurry to get warmed up.

Her mode of entry was to go hurtling through a window knocking down a set of Chippendale chairs. During her placid periods she sat in a rocking chair humming a pretty song in a little hallway alcove outside Room 8. One waitress saw the empty rocking chair going back and forth as if someone had just risen from it. It could only have been Maud, she said, because everyone was downstairs at dinner. At first Major tried to attribute the melodic tones he heard to the wind but he felt theywere much too pretty to be air moving through the walls.

Then there was the curious case of the manicured mushrooms that grew on the spot where Maud was alleged to have been buried. According to Major, mushrooms thrived in the damp basement and when they grew to a certain point they would suddenly appear to be neatly clipped, as if someone had snipped them with a sharp knife or scissors. It is still a mystery as to who cut them. No one has said they have seen Maud, or any type of apparition, but there are those like Major who are convinced that strange things begin to happen when the wind begins to cross Lac des Deux Montagnes and there is the sense of snow in the air. These strange things were reported 20 years ago but Maud’s legend lingers since then the original building was demolished by fire and was replaced with an new structure in its Georgian-Victorian style.

“When the old house burned down I think that’s when Maud disappeared, because that had been her home all these years,” Major said. While the blaze was being put out one of the firefighters was heard to say: “I guess Maud is really toast now.” Has Maud really gone? “Every now and then one of the staff will feel the sensation of a cool breeze in the hallway – and this is a new building where it is unlikely for draughts to penetrate the walls or windows,” said owner Michael Dobbie, who has himself had no run-in with Maud since buying the inn in 1982.

One of his present employees, who doesn’t want her name used, has the feeling that an unseen presence is trying to get a foothold in the inn. She doesn’t know whether it is Maud or not but there have been some unusual manifestations leading her to believe that perhaps some type of haunting is going on again. “On two occasions, while I was working late, the front door came flying open and I felt something come into the building, and our doors are heavy and close very tightly,” she said. “One night a Japanese businessman checked in and five minutes later he came down the stairs asking for another room,” she said. He explained: “I can’t stay there, I feel eyes on me everywhere.” Is Maud trying to get back into her old home?

Read more at

The Journal – YLJ

Local Hauntings – The Willow Inn By Jules-Pierre Malartre–Undated picture of a ghostly figure allegedly taken at the Willow Inn (printed with kind permission from the Hudson Historical Society).

Yes the Willow Inn is openclick on their website

Service options: Dine-in · No takeout · No deliveryAddress: 208 Rue Main, Hudson, QC J0P 1H0Hours: Open ⋅ Closes 3 p.m. ⋅ Reopens 5 p.m.Health and safety: Reservations required · Mask required · Staff wear masks · Staff required to disinfect surfaces between visits · More detailsPhone(450) 458-7006

CLIPPED FROM
The Gazette
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
14 Sep 2016, Wed  •  Page D15

Hudson and the Patriote Rebellion of 1837-8.

Hudson was involved in this important event in pre-Confederation history. The (original) Willow Inn, then owned by a Mr. Desjardins, was a site for Patriote activities. A Mr. Whitlock was another prominent English-speaking Patriote. John Thompson’s book Hudson: the Early Years Up to 1867 provides a wealth of information about the turbulent events of that era.

Those amongst you who read French should also have a look at the ethnologist Robert Lionel Seguin’s important work on the history of the insurrection in the county of Vaudreuil entitled Le mouvement insurrectionnel dans le Presqu’ile de Vaudreuil–1837-1838, published in 1955. As well, you might want to read Seguin’s history of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, also in French, published on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1947. This last mentioned work is both difficult to come by and more than just a history of St. Thomas Parish. It is also a history of that part of the country of Vaudreuil that stretches along the Ottawa river. Read more about Hudson’s history CLICK HERE

Maud wasn’t the only one buried in the bottom of a building

Is Samuel Shaard Lying in the “Cement” of the Thoburn Mill?

Henry Gray Nightwatchman –Wylie’s Mill

Murder on Island Street — Henry Gray

Shocking Murder in Almonte–Michigan Charlie

I was Part of the French Revolution and I Forgot

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I was Part of the French Revolution and I Forgot

 
Tensions were high here in the nation’s capital — and across Canada.

On October 16, 1970 — 51 years ago today — the Canadian government, under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, invoked the War Measures Act following the kidnappings of British diplomat James Cross and Quebec MLA Pierre Laporte.

The Ottawa Citizen’s Bruce Deachman took a look back at the FLQ cris
is:

https://ottawacitizen.com/…/citizen175-october-crisis…

Photo: Peter Bregg, Canadian Press

Ben Weiss shared a post.–Old Ottawa And Bytown Pics

I try to lay low on weekends, but once again Ben Weiss’s posting made me think of that era– so here is a piece I wrote years ago and seldom share.

I was Part of the French Revolution and I Forgot Linda Knight Seccaspina

Last year I wrote a blog on French Canada, and it seemed to rip open a box of memories that had been filed away in my mind for many years. I had actually lived through an important part of Canadian history and forgot all about it.

When Pierre Elliot Trudeau became Prime Minister in April of 1968 it changed Canadian history. The night he won I was at the Cowansville, Quebec Hotel with my friends and my father, who was a campaign manager for Jean Jacques Bertrand.

My French Canadian friends ran in and grabbed my arm for a night of celebrating. The feelings in the air were the same as when Barack Obama won in a 99% African-American neighborhood forty years later. My friends were thrilled that hopefully help was on the way for French Canadians.

My best friend kept teasing me, asking me if I was angry that a French Canadian man had won the election. Being Sally Sunshine all my life, I never take sides. Life should be about people working together, and not against each other. But, I was thrilled he had won, as I really liked him and hoped there would be no more taking sides. Even my stepmother and father were taking sides as she loved Trudeau also, and the conversation had gotten so unpleasant in my home that she had taped a giant poster of Pierre Trudeau to the living room wall. Sadly at one point, the people of French and English Quebec did take sides, and a revolution was born. Out of this unrest came the notorious FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front).

There were bombings, and declarations from them that called for a socialist uprising against those considered Anglo-Saxon imperialist oppressors. Yes, it felt just like the ‘play wars’ we always had in the lumber yard with my French friends as children, only on a bigger scale, and very real. They called for the overthrow of the Quebec government and the independence of Quebec from Canada.

At age 16, I started dating a French Canadian boy whom I will call Yves. His father had completely radical opinions about the English and did not mince words when his son brought home an English girl. It turned out that he had known my grandfather, and considered him one of the Anglo-Saxon imperialists, as he had money and what he considered “British airs”.

My father was equally concerned.  Not that Yves might have some radical tendencies, but the fact that his hair looked a little long. This was typical of my father. Never worry about the important stuff, just make sure he cuts his hair. It certainly would be a travesty if people talked about it. It was all around town anyways that Arthur Knight had trouble with his oldest daughter.

He also did not like the fact that his daughter was not dating a nice Anglican boy, and he told me to “kiss him goodbye”. In Quebec, the age of consent to marry was 21 and he would not allow me to marry Yves until I reached that age. Maybe he had the right idea as the marriage only lasted a year and a half, but I knew the only reason was because he had long hair and worked at Vilas in Cowansville. Not good enough for his daughter.

On October 15, 1970, more than 3,000 students attended a protest rally in favor of the FLQ. The FLQ then kidnapped James Cross, the British High Trade Commissioner, and when their demands were not met they kidnapped the Minister of Labour and Vice Premier of Quebec, Pierre Laporte.

When a CBC reporter asked Prime Minister Trudeau how far he was going to go to stop the FLQ he said,

“Just watch me!”

On October 16th, at 8 am I stepped out of my apartment building on Pine Ave. in Montreal what I saw was unbelievable. Prime Minister Trudeau had invoked the War Measures Act at 4 am, and military forces lined my street like there was a war going on. That’s when all hell broke loose.

The next day, October 17th, 1970, Pierre Laporte was found dead in the trunk of a car, strangled to death.

Living in Montreal during the time of the War Measures act was like living in a war zone. Soldiers halted anyone they felt was suspicious, and I was even stopped at the Greyhound Bus Terminal and asked for my passport. All they said was that I looked like someone who was on a list.

Of course I have been on lists all my life. For years, I was considered a threat to the Canadian population because of “those” Viet Nam War protests and I sold subversive literature in my store. Subversive literature would be the alternative music and radical fashion magazines that I sold in my store Flash Cadilac in the 70’s and 80’s. Thankfully, things have changed.

In the end of all this chaos: 453 people were rounded up, and some were given asylum in Cuba. The five flown to Cuba were jailed when they returned to Canada years later. Yves and I split up, and I have not seen him in 47 years. Most of my generation moved out of Quebec and went to Ontario after they graduated. They sadly left because of too many rules and regulations about language and cultural issues. I often wonder what could have been, I really do. I will always miss ‘Ma Belle Province’ –language issues or not.

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Troops march in the streets of Montreal Oct. 20, 1970. Bob Olsen Toronto Star-

Dedicated to my Weekend Protesting Hippie Generation — Nothing Changes Does it?

Scully, You are Not Going to Believe This!” Linda Knight Seccaspina

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Scully, You are Not Going to Believe This!” Linda Knight Seccaspina

As a fan of the X-Files I have always believed that there is someone else out there in the skies. However, sometimes I thought my late father was nuts when he insisted I join him in a spaceship watch outside on his driveway. In the late 60’s he claimed to have seen something up in those starry skies on Miltimore Road hovering over the Brome Pond area– which I blamed it on too much exhaust coming out of his Ford Pinto. In 1974 it happened again and this time he made me sit for what seemed like hours to see what he claimed was another UFO. Of course I never saw anything unusual and usually handed him a glass of wine and told him to go watch The Rockford Files.

Today, going through the news archives I found out that there were indeed many UFO sightings in the Eastern Townships in that time frame and my father, Arthur Knight, might not have been so crazy after all. In the late 60’s many sightings in the Sherbrooke area have been documented and Michael Phelps sent a letter to the Sudbury Star in 1990 in response to a request by the newspaper for personal encounters.

The letter discussed a 1968 incident at an Ayer’s Cliff cottage on the shores of Lake Massawippi that his family was renting. Walking home one evening the whole sky was lit up like giant spotlights being turned on. He looked across the lake and saw  3 or 4 balls descend and after a few seconds they were gone. His sister had seen the same thing, but later they found out that it had not been a visit from beyond, rather it had been nothing but what they call ‘earthquake lights’. These lights in the sky are caused by electrical properties of certain rocks in specific settings. When nature stresses certain rocks, electric charges are activated, as if you switched on a battery in the Earth’s crust.

On the 15th of July in 1974, a UFO wave swept the Sudbury, Ontario and once again the Eastern Townships area. Among these were some UFOs that had a bell shape and that was what my father had insisted he had seen in his second encounter. In October of  the same year a bell-shaped UFO was also seen between Deauville and Rock Forest, and in this case, the object was orange in colour.

So today I sit here, over 30 years later, and wonder what my father actually saw. Did he see spaceships, or was it natural mineral gas lights coming off nearby Gale Pond? For those that have no idea what I am talking about– Gale Pond, which is now called Lac Gale, sits on top of Gale Mountain in Bromont. 

As a kid we used to climb the rough trail up the mountain where a former volcanic crater sat at the top, disguised as a natural lake. There we would mingle with the campers of Gale Camp that Reverend Peacock of the Anglican church in Cowansville had begun in 1944. Kids would swim off the dam on the south end of Gale Pond and the water warmed up faster than any other lake after a good rainstorm. But did we ever see any spaceships coming out of the water, or was there anything else that would have been labeled odd? Not that I remember! The only thing that would have had something similar to wild lights and burning speed would have been the Farr boy’s toboggan zipping down that trail coming from the top of Gale Mountain.

So what did my Dad see? Personally, I believe there are just two possibilities– either we are alone in this universe, or we are not.  I guess we will never know– but after doing research for this story, more of my childhood came back in a flood of memories. It’s just so hard to forget an area that gave me so much to remember– even on the subject of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

UFO Sightings in Lanark County 1982 — Lanark Village

Was it the Germans Or UFO’s that Invaded the Ottawa Valley in 1915?

Saturated with UFO activity Lee Cole 1994

Unsolved Mysteries — The Almonte Woman Abducted by a UFO (Part 2)

More UFO Sightings in Carleton Place!

Was it a UFO? A Meteorite or a Fuse Box? A Carleton Place Legend

Memories of UFO’s Earthquake Lights and Gale Pond

Did the Germans Start the Fire at the Portland School in 1915?