Tag Archives: Sherbrooke Record

Once Upon a Time We Were All Born to Run…. Linda Knight Seccaspina

Once Upon a Time We Were All Born to Run…. Linda Knight Seccaspina

My son Perry with my cane…everyone loves it and tries it out.

Last night I dreamt that I was walking all over town for hours. No pain, no struggle, it was bliss. After my stroke years ago I had poor balance much like a Bobblehead and fell a lot. It was enough to damage my legs, and now severe arthritis is making themselves home in them. I use an ‘Elton John style” glitter cane to help me because if I’m going to use a cane– let’s have fun, and encourage others.

I was going to write a funny story today but it is just not happening.  After writing about Polio last week I felt sad for those who could not walk like everyone else. My mother lost the use of her legs one snowy 1959 New Year’s Eve at a friend’s home when she was 30. My father thought she had consumed one drink too many, but after years of her fighting to get her legs back, he finally realized it had never really had been the liquour.

As a child I watched the doctors say it was polio over and over. Then she had polio treatments, spinal surgeries and neurological tests slapped on her like a guinea pig. The specialists came one after another from all over the world to try their experiments on her at the former Montreal Rehabilitation Centre on Darlington Ave. and nothing ever worked.

For four years until she died at age 34 she wore black heavy polio leg braces and never gave up. My father even drove her to Oklahoma hoping faith healer Oral Roberts would cure her, only to be turned away as they could not afford all the pay tolls Roberts had on his property for those who visited him. 

I watched her sit on the hospital stairs each weekend and cry as she attempted to do something she would never do again–walk. But, she never gave up and continued to play Glenn Miller tunes on the piano every afternoon in the hospital foyer for the patients– no matter how sad she felt about her future.

One day fluid began to violate her on a daily basis for a few months. Two days before she died in September of 1963 she burned her finger as she ironed my Confirmation dress. Instead of it blistering, a yellowish fluid began oozing from the burn.

She looked at my neighbour, and said calmly,

“Meg, my body is full of poison now, I am going to die.”

All those years of fighting, all those years of frustration, she died—just like that, at the age of 34. Years later when my sister Robin died of Lymphoma at the age of 40, the doctors confirmed my mother had actually died of Lymphoma on the spine. Lymphoma is a hard disease to detect, and information in those days was sparse.

The medical staff did not need to tell me what happened to my mother. I already knew it as I had figured it out years ago. Yes, the disease with the capital ‘L’ has taken each one of my family, and I am the very last to speak.  Every second in time I choose to speak the words of a family lost, so they might at least be remembered for their determination.

This morning I got up and my legs were not functioning like in my dream. They were stiff, they didn’t glide, and sadly they don’t dance anymore. Do I feel badly about my legs? I would not be human if I said I didn’t, but I remember my mother sitting there frustrated quoting her icon Dale Carnegie.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

So today I encourage those who have issues, whether it be legs, arms or memory. Whatever it is, keep going and when you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. If my daily association with my glitter cane becomes too difficult, I will go to a walker, but that walker better be sprayed with pink glitter, and even though I don’t drink I’ll make a mini bar to greet every person I meet. Problems should never be stop signs, they should be guidelines.

Yes, my column has no humour today, but because I felt badly this morning, I felt someone else out there might feel sad or angry like I do sometimes. Don’t let the paralysis of anger allow you not to step into another day–ever. You also need to also remember that using a glitter cane and losing it in a small town is foolproof. You will certainly get a call quickly as I do when I forget it somewhere.

Next week I promise not to write such heavy words, but there is someone out there today that needs to feel they are not alone. I want to tell you you’re not.

Love you all and see you next week!

The Knight family, South Street, Cowansville, Quebec. I amthe one with y grandmother and the last one left.

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

Owl’s Head, Quebec--The Golden Rule Lodge of Stanstead holds a ceremony every year at the top of Owl’s Head. Near the top of Owl’s Head is a natural chamber, accessible on foot, through an opening between rocks. Members and guests of Golden Rule Lodge No 5 of Stanstead of the Masonic Order meet here annually on the summer solstice. This chamber was inaugurated by Henry J. Martin, GM, on September l0, 1857. Acclaimed to be the only natural open air lodge that is known to exist, Masons from the world over have visited here. The Masonic emblem of a square and compass with the letter ‘G’ in
the centre is inscribed on one wall. A double headed eagle, of symbolic meaning to Masons, is depicted on the chamber’s eastern face

Golden Rule Lodge #5 / Annual Owl’s Head Communication · Owl’s Head, c.1900

Through my childhood years there were always mentions of secret handshakes and the glimpses of velvet curtains and big chairs at the local Lodge. Then there were the blue aprons that my Father and Grandfather carried around in something that looked like a violin case. These are the memories of the Cowansville Masonic Lodge I still hold at the age of 71. 

I have always wanted to know what really goes on with the Freemasons. My Dad and Grandfather were Grand Masters and I would always ask what the Cowansville organization was up to. They told me it was a secret, and no matter who I still ask, it still seems to be a secret.

Paul Todd, a member of St. John’s No. 63 in Carleton Place, ON, agreed to show me around last year. These fraternal groups, no matter what you read or think, are based on community and most join at the recommendation of somebody close to them. I am sure my Grandfather Knight joined because he liked the charitable side of the membership, and then some joined as they needed the sense of fellowship like my Father did. In fact it wasn’t only my father’s side, my mother’s side all claimed to be Masons too.

I have written before about Masonic markings found in Lanark County, but according to my Grandfather there were many in the Eastern Townships as well. There is a well known one in Potton Springs, in Vale Perkins and on farms similar to ones I found in Lanark County. But, the mother of all that was a story that I thought was just a local fable. It was about Owl’s Head overlooking Lake Memphremagog, which is located on the border between Vermont and Quebec.

At one time the annual trek June 24th to the only outdoor Masonic Lodge Room, called the Owl’s Head Golden Rule Lodge, was available only by climbing Owl’s Head Mountain. My Grandfather said that it was a hard climb to the area. He only climbed once, and just to the Lodge Room but decided he could never do it again. Even though it seemed like it was a steady climb and flattened out at times, you would always encounter some steep rocks. From ledge to ledge you carefully walked until you reached the plateau. Each year, a candidate for the Master Mason degree carries a wicker basket that contains ropes, the flags of Quebec, the United States, and Canada, and Masonic tools, including a Bible, and a square and compasses.

Instead of just one peak Owl’s Head has three separated by deep chasms. My Grandfather used to tell me he had friends that told him if you went to the very top of Owl’s Head and had binoculars you could see the outlines of Montreal. Between two of the peaks they finally came to the sacred area called The Lodge Room, so named from the fact that different Masons from Vermont and Canada ascended the mountain. It was a wild cavern, accessible only by one path and so constructed by nature as to be singularly adapted to the purposes of a lodge room. In that very spot, the Golden Rule Lodge first had a meeting in 1856. 

The room itself was of sheer rock towering over 500 feet and the officers’ seats were made of natural stone. The site was established by what many Masons claim to be a very ancient lodge located across the lake from Vermont,  and they still perform the 3rd Degree of Masonry ritual at sunrise. It is said that the ceremony conformed to ancient Masonry and that “the old customs are carried out to the letter” at a time when “the sun is at its meridian and several members were initiated on the summit”. 

Having arrived at the foot of “Owl’s Head” Mountain, the ascent was made in about two hours, my Grandfather said. After the lodge had performed the 3rd Degree Of Masonry Ritual, the members descended the mountain, where they enjoyed delicious food made by the ladies of Stanstead, Newport and Derby, Vermont.

At one point in history there was a bad feeling brought about by the war of 1812, and the Canadians were obliged to separate from their American brethren, and founded the Golden Rule Lodge at Stanstead in 1814. This lodge had a long struggle in the cause of temperance. We are told that in those good old days the people indulged freely in spirituous liquors. Intemperance prevailed everywhere; each neighbourhood had its distillery. Potato whiskey was the staple commodity and, during the winter, numerous teams were constantly employed conveying it to the Montreal market.

In 1828-9 the Stanstead lodge died out from a variety of causes. But in November, 1846, a number of gentlemen who had been detained by an unusually severe snowstorm, while attending the winter show of the Agricultural society of Stanstead county, met by accident at West’s tavern, at Derby Line. Here, before a bright fire, and over a social pipe and glass, the Golden Rule was revived under the old warrant granted in 1824 by H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex, which was supposed to have been destroyed at the burning of the Grand Lodge room in Montreal, a few years before.

The Golden Rule Lodge is the only lodge allowed to hold an outdoor meeting or communication in Quebec. Thanks to an 1857 dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Canada they are allowed to have their annual gathering everyJune 24.  At one time Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 of Stanstead, Canada, occupied a lodge room that was bisected by the boundary between Canada and the United States, with entrances on both the Vermont and Canadian sides. Consequently, lodge membership consisted of men from both sides of the border. A charter was applied for and granted to the Golden Rule Lodge in 1853 by the Grand Lodge of England. 

Reading this through I am often amazed that if history isn’t explained or kept from me I seek it out like my pants are on fire. I get excited to be able to tell the stories I was told and hoping that others will pass it on. So please remember that each day of your life is a page of your own history. Pass it on, and see you next time!

Masonic Gathering 1919

Level of description



Eastern Townships Resource Centre

Reference code

CA ETRC P020-003-06-P078

Title proper

Meeting of Freemasons on Owl’s Head 1920

Level of description



Eastern Townships Resource Centre

Reference code

CA ETRC P998-099-007-P001

James Williams

Owl’s Head Basket, Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 – 1900 – 1920

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass —– SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass —– SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

Photo from my collection

I Swear it’s True! Part 4 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina – Tales from Bolton Pass SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

In 1883 Lake View House in Knowlton advertised that a drive through Bolton Pass to Bolton Springs would be unrivalled for wild and romantic scenery. I was surprised that the sightings of fairies were never mentioned in the advertisement because my Grandfather insisted the Pass was full of them.

A few months ago I began to archive some news clippings about Bolton Pass. To this day I can remember driving through the area many times and looking for faeries on each side of the road. Two months ago I bought some Canadian travel books from the late 1800s and low and behold there was a majestic illustration of Bolton Pass, but no mention of faeries.

It was always said that once you passed Brome Village the road dropped down a steep slope into Bolton Pass near Sally’s Pond and on through the pass to the Missisquoi River Valley. From there this offshoot of the Green Mountains continued over the ridge to drop down once more to the shores of Lake Memphremagog at Knowlton’s Landing. Until 1820, even dragging a wagon behind you was impossible and in 1826, an effort was made to be able to travel safely. A government grant was arranged in 1830 and the road was greatly improved so that wagons could finally travel. Settlers were scattered along the Pass at each end, but that steep drop down into the Pass was very real. I always thought that perhaps that drop wasn’t created by glaciers and was actually created by faeries in amusement. My grandfather told me that the early settlers all believed in fairies, banshees and ghosts, and that ghost stories coming from the old country were the favourite amusement at every evening gathering.

It’s been said by history buffs that the original track ran along the south side of the pass at the foot of the mountain. Because it was in the shade longer than the north flank it was abandoned and a new and improved route followed the foot of the north side of the pass. Many years later it was rerouted right down the middle which required more than levelling with a lot of gravel required to fill the wet swampy centre of the Pass. 

During severe cold or stormy weather it was particularly difficult and even dangerous to attempt passing through. On one occasion at least, when a traveller insisted on making the attempt against the advice of those who better understood the risk, his life paid the price.

In 1818 Nathan Hanson married a daughter of Simon Wadleigh and he opened a public house. Even though the road was not really passable for wagons until 1820, those who travelled on foot or horseback needed a place to stay. It was the only road as shown in the history of East Bolton where you might be able to reach the west side of the mountain. 

There were also many tragedies of those that did not make it through the Pass. One day a stranger from the States decided to make his way through but he never came back. A search party was sent out the next day and they found his body on the east side of the mountain- frozen to death. Owing to the amount of snow and the absence of a road the men had taken some boards and nails and made a coffin for him right on site. A crude slab was made to mark his burial site that said: Dr. Levi Frisbie, January 28, 1800.

In 1902 a Knowlton correspondent for the Montreal Gazette wrote about a wonderful cave that had recently been discovered at the base of one of the mountains at Bolton Pass. Mr. Selby, of South Bolton, found the opening which barely admitted the passage of an adult person. Looking inside he saw a large lofty room, sparkling with Stalactites, but being alone he did not venture inside. No one knows if faeries lived in the cave, but he quoted that there were rare fishtail helictites on the walls that sort of resembled fairy wings.

The correspondent reported that others were preparing to visit the spot and explore it thoroughly. The cave,he thought, made a great addition to the many charms and attractions of the drive from Knowlton to Bolton Springs. Why it had remained undiscovered for so many years baffled me and as I searched I could not find any other news story about it.

During the 1930s my Grandfather would sit at the back of the wagon with a rifle with his family to chase off what he called hoodlums or whatever popped out from behind the trees. He said there was no telling what would jump out in front of you on the Bolton Pass Road. Sometimes your eyes played tricks on you, but you kept driving and didn’t stop.

Among the stories he told me was that when the Irish immigrants came to the area their family fairies came with them. He once said that after a fire pit was made; the next morning the whole surface of the pit was covered in tiny footprints and gave the impression that a number of little people had been dancing on the fresh earth surface. No one in my family had seen anything like it in Ireland. They had heard a great deal about fairies while back in the homeland, but had never seen any of their footprints. If they had carried cameras in those days they might have taken a photo, but they had none, so they had no evidence to show those who asked. Some to whom they told the story suggested that the foot marks were those of some small animal, but both men strongly insisted that the marks were like those of miniature human feet much smaller than those of a new baby’s feet.

And so, tales from Bolton Pass go back to a time when a flicker in the bush might be a faerie, or a stone might be a troll in petrified form.Things of nature were treated with a different sense of respect then and I for one will never forget the magical stories of who might have been leaving those sparkly crystals in the stone once seen on a forest path in Bolton Pass.


Bernard Bissonnette


Here on my property in Bonsecours ,gnomes are everywhere and they take care of all the scenery that I see every day

I Swear it’s True! Part 3 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina SHERBROOKE RECORD WEEKEND PAPER

I Swear it’s True!  Part 1 2 – by Linda Knight Seccaspina

CLIPPED FROMThe Montreal StarMontreal, Quebec, Canada10 Sep 1901, Tue  •  Page 10

CLIPPED FROMThe Montreal StarMontreal, Quebec, Canada14 Jul 1900, Sat  •  Page 5

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada21 Jun 1883, Thu  •  Page 8

CLIPPED FROMThe GazetteMontreal, Quebec, Canada23 Jul 1964, Thu  •  Page 31

 Social Notes and Love for Community Newspapers — Linda Knight Seccaspina

 Social Notes and Love for Community Newspapers — Linda Knight Seccaspina

 Social Notes and Love for Community Newspapers —Linda Knight Seccaspina

Yesterday I was looking for information in newspaper archives about a local cave I will be writing about, and ended up reading years of local social columns. Who knew that after decades some of the old Eastern Townships social columns would be posted for the world to see.

They were all from small local newspapers: The Sherbrooke Daily Record, “The News and Eastern Townships Advocate ” and the “Granby Leader Mail”. These social notes found their way into all the newspapers on small bits of paper – typed or handwritten, and at times with very odd spelling.

Here are some I found about my family:

 “Mr. and Mrs. Arthr Knight with their little girls, Linda and Robin spent a week’s holiday in Montreal.”

Actually, it was just another week in 1961 for my mother to see the specialist, Dr. Gingras at the Darlington Rehabilitation Centre in Montreal. My father decided to bring us along to give her something to smile about. She played the piano one day in the common room and I danced around to the “Waltz of the Flowers”. Several Thalidomide afflicted kids came in to enjoy the music and my bad dancing.

One tried to dance with me, gracefully waving her hands that were somewhere near her armpits. I stopped in shock, and my mother glared at me. I took off my black Mary Jane shoes and gave them to the girl as I knew she had admired them. She was my hero, and so were all the other afflicted kids in the Darlington Rehabilitation Centre. That was the day I learned to respect everyone no matter what — as we are all the same.

“The Brownies closed their season of 1959 with a Doll Exhibition at the Parish of Nelsonville Church Hall.”

The paper said that Judy Clough and Linda Lee Pratt won out of the 30 entries. My beautiful Miss Revlon doll did not even place. Seems the second judge ratted to the others that my mother had sewn the doll dress. I never forgot that lesson. Don’t lie about doing things you never did.

“Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Knight held a party last Saturday night at their lovely home on Albert Street in Cowansville.”

What they did not read is that Linda Knight, their daughter, could not sleep. She joined the party and sat in a circle of adults as they played a sort of musical chairs with a huge bag of women’s underwear. When the music stopped, the one holding the bag had to put on whatever they picked out. Did I mention they were blindfolded?

What was that all about?

There was also no mention of the woman that had way too much to drink and had sat on the open window sill. Somehow she fell out of the window into the bushes below with a paper plate of pineapple squares in her hand.

After all these years I have learned never to divulge a name and am eternally grateful I have never fallen out of a window while eating squares.

“Mr. and Mrs. Murray Wallet and their children Sheila and Gary spent a week at their summer cottage in Iron Hill.”

I used to love going to my best friend’s cottage. It stood in all its glory partially hidden by lilac trees. There isn’t a week that does not go by that I don’t think of it.

There are nothing but wonderful memories of walking along the stream that came down from the mountain top. We also used to make evening gloves on our arms with the mud from the hole in the earth that was called their swimming pool.

We toasted marshmallows and hot dogs in a bonfire, while the fireflies buzzed around us. To get water we had to shake the hose that ran up the hill to the underground water source. We were always unsure if a bear was going to pop out. The best of it all was sitting inside sipping cocoa, and laughing at stories while the rain pounded down on the tin roof.

No amount of descriptive words in any newspaper could do it justice.

To this day I still remember and will never forget. Some memories are meant to never be forgotten.

Professor Beth Garfrerick from the University of Alabama wrote a thesis on how social information was distributed through the ages. I read a lot of small town newspapers from the past on a daily basis to try and get bits of information to piece community history together. Contrary to what some believe, it takes hours, and sometimes days, to get something interesting enough to entice readers.

A lot of my historical information comes from what Ms. Garfrerick calls “Ploggers”. Those were the local “newspaper print loggers” who played an important role in recording births, deaths and everyday happenings. If these were not online I could not write these community stories. But, I was pleased as punch that Professor Beth Garfrerick quoted me on page 12 of her thesis:

Canadian blogger Linda Seccaspina believes that small-town newspapers continue to publish the news that most residents of those communities want to read. She wrote, “Who does not want to know who got arrested at the local watering-hole or whose lawn-ornaments are missing that week? Even though large newspapers are losing money, the local weekly small-town newspapers still manage to survive. Why? Because the local population depends on their weekly words and supports them.”

This year my New Year greetings include the support for the Sherbrooke Record. It’s an honour to write for the same newspaper my family read when I was a child. One of the biggest differences between larger newspapers  and community journalism is that the staff have to face its audience every single day. Feedback is immediate. A community without a small newspaper is nothing more than a local media desert, and sadly there isn’t one that isn’t struggling economically. 

So, in this coming year of 2023, buy a subscription to your community newspaper where you live. Like the Sherbrooke Record I write for– place an advertisement, tell a business you read about them in your community newspaper. Engage with your newspaper and tell the politicians that our local press is a priority. There is no substitute for a local newspaper that has been doing its job for all the Eastern Townships population for generations and generations. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Happy New Year and see you in 2023. Can’t wait!

There is no substitute for a local newspaper that has been doing its job for all the Eastern Townships population for generations and generations. PLEASE support them.

The History of the Sherbrooke Daily Record– click

The Sherbrooke Record

6 MallorySherbrooke, QuebecJ1M 2E2

Record archives pulled from the flood


Let’s face it, most everyone went to High School and somehow it doesn’t matter what you did and where you were, everyone pretty well has similar memories. Thoughts about growing up, music, the clothes, and your fellow classmates in the 50’s to the late 60’s are not just for class reunions. There isn’t a day that does not go by that I don’t have flashbacks like in the film Peggy Sue Got Married.

This book would not have been written had it not been for the former students of Heroes Memorial and Massey Vanier in Cowansville, Quebec, Canada joining together on Facebook to create these memories. It was nothing but joy for me to compile these bits of conversation and add some of my own stories to do some good for the school.

Proceeds from this book will go to either a breakfast or anti-bullying program at Heroes Memorial and this book is dedicated to every single one of you that lived in my era, because you know what? We rocked!

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

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!!

Dressed for winter. Note the storm door and the wooden bucket. No names to protect the innocent.

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

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

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.

Letting my Hair Down — Linda Knight Seccaspina

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.

And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer……. Linda Knight Seccaspina

And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer…….  Linda Knight Seccaspina

photo from Tracey Beckerman as I wont show mine LOLOLhttps://tracybeckerman.com/whats-hiding-in-your-junk-drawer/

And Now for Something Completely Different– The Junk Drawer……. Linda Knight Seccaspina

Across vast countries, mixed into every culture we all share one thing, one dirty little secret throughout time. That, my friends, is the junk drawer. No matter if you move, don’t have junk, or even aspiration to have one, that drawer is with you– sometimes forever. Someday you might even have enough of a variety in that drawer to make a spaceship– or even save the world.

Let’s be totally honest, is there anything you would really miss in that drawer? The nails and bolts, the bits of string, and yes, even small packages of Ketchup when you always keep a fresh litre in the fridge. If a global condiment packet shortage comes our way, my junk drawer will reign supreme. I can’t even begin a conversation with you about that strange light bulb in my drawer that could possibly be useful 20 years down the line— or the fork with two missing centre prongs that is used to unjam the dishwasher as seen on YouTube.

That’s where the birthday candles are kept, keys, keys and more keys that fit nowhere and lots of twist ties.One day down the road some archaeologist is going to find all these bread and twisty ties and conclude it must have played an incredible role in our society. Sometimes just the right whatever-it-is can be found in there, but how many old pens do you have in that drawe,r and actually how many work? 

In all honesty, that drawer never started out to become a junk drawer, it probably had high hopes to be a utensil container and somehow it became a vast memory capsule for your family. In one fell swoop unexpected visitors called one day and whatever was hanging around on the counters got thrown in that drawer for a last minute hiding place and its fate was sealed forever. 

In my drawer I have a flashlight with no batteries, but flashlights without batteries also exist in various places around my home. They are all awaiting the first storm so I can complain about them not working.There are scraps of paper with written notes on them I can’t read, like the poison hotline centre. Menus from restaurants along with enough mouse traps to catch The Mickey Mouse Club constantly jam the drawer each time you attempt to close it.

My sons are in their mid 30s yet rolls of hockey tape along with a remote control that controls nothing still lie at the back of that drawer. Instructions for the old BETA VCR and batteries that we just aren’t sure if they are dead yet lay next to markers that are half dead but not dead enough. There are small pieces of metal with no purpose that my late husband put in there along with matching pieces of similar plastic with elastic bands that no longer stretch around them. A Tim Hortons ‘Roll Up the Lid to Win’ remainder is in there along with things that came from the bottom of pepsi bottles caps for contests that ended at least a decade ago.

If anyone uses a tool, the mandatory protocol seems to be to give it a home in the junk drawer instead of putting it back. I swear my grandson who is now 3 will do the same in 10 years if I am still alive. It’s just the family traditions that will never be broken. Why are we still saving the extra buttons that come with sweaters, and various blouses even though the chances of using them are null to void? Odd band aids used to be in that drawer until I decided cleanliness needed to be next to godliness and some of them just didn’t stick anymore. I just threw out the small ancient Nerf gun with two bullets as I realized protection while cooking dinner is no longer needed.

No matter how you argue that your junk drawer isn’t like mine– this drawer exists in every household and you know it is the staple of every happy family. Right now you can go to this drawer and whatever you are looking for is right beside the old roll of duct tape that is next to the empty BIC lighter. I am sure we could empty out that drawer for the good of mankind, but in all honesty how could you break the news to the junk closet or the junk room? To those that say they haven’t opened that drawer in a long time I would suggest that you go take out that half broken rogue potato masher or spatula that is keeping the drawer stuck and investigate. If you really think of it junk drawers are mostly like opinions– everyone  has got one and they are mostly full of crap.

The End

My column for the Sherbrooke Record this week

Related reading

The Good, the Bad and the “Eggly”

Spittle Spatter and Dirty Faces of Yore

Shaking Things Up! Linda Knight Seccaspina

Is it all Relative? Linda Knight Seccaspina

Gym? I Thought You said Gin!

In Loving Memory of James Luther Hosking- The Father of Aboriginal Archaeology



Today I am documenting for posterity the story of  James Luther Hosking that was originally published in the Sherbrooke Record in 2009. Thanks to David Hosking for sending this and letting the whole world share what a great man his Father was.

In Loving Memory of James Luther Hosking—24 May 1922 – 17 June 2008

By David Hosking

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Five years ago, in his 86th year, Jim Hosking bought the farm, having lived only half of the time on this Earth that he wished for, and perhaps three or four times longer than what a few of his relatives had hoped for. Incredibly, for over eight decades, Jim escaped near-death experiences at least two million times. Never afraid of hard work, he was a very active man who was prone to overexerting himself at whatever task he undertook. His favourite expression following each endeavour was That damn-near killed me!” and he fully enjoyed relaying the intricate details of each of these brushes with death to anyone within earshot.

He was born into an impecunious family in the boondocks of New Jersey, and he was raised by his grandmother who used to swear at him a lot, albeit lovingly. They cut their own firewood, grew their own vegetables, stole chickens from the neighbours, and shot a wide variety of varmints for the cooking pot in order to survive the lean and hungry years of the Great Depression. Speaking of food, Jim loved to eat and could never pass up a meal, or even a snack. He ate lots of animal fat which never seemed to adversely affect his overall health and stature. Throughout his youthful years, Jim suffered from asthma. This ailment prevented his acceptance into the military at the outbreak of WWII. Instead, he served the wartime effort as an electrochemist with the Aircraft Radio Company where he participated in the development of the first remote-controlled airplane.

To escape the unhealthy New Jersey climate, as well as a failed marriage, Jim moved to Sherbrooke, Quebec in 1949, and brought along his two young children, Linda and Jimmy, to be raised in a more civilized place. At this point in his life, he met Elaine Marian Bishop who swept him off his feet with her incredible beauty and compassionate heart. He was star-struck and could hardly believe his good fortune in finding the true love of his life. Elaine and Jim were married at the United Church in Bishopton in 1950. Three years later, Elaine and Jim gave birth to the fifth member of the family, David, who eventually grew up, despite the strong doubts of his parents, teachers, relatives and law enforcement.


Blueberry Point Lake Massawippi www.lacmassawippi.ca

The family lived in Sherbrooke during the winter months but spent the summers at their cottage on the western shore of Lake Massawippi near Blueberry Point. Jim and Elaine cleared the wilderness property and built two cottages, mostly by hand, for the express purpose of steering their children away from joining street-gangs in Sherbrooke. The travails of building the cottages gave Jim at least one million opportunities to use his favourite expression “…damn near killed me!”

Jim was passionate about hunting and fishing, as well as archaeology. He is considered by some to be the father of aboriginal archaeology in the Province of Quebec. He loved and respected all aspects of the natural environment; he was a member of the Naturalist Society (not to be confused with Naturist) in Lennoxville where he enjoyed listening to talks about the birds and the bees from his colleagues. For years he was dedicated to improving the water quality of his adopted lake, annoying friends and neighbours alike by selling memberships to them in the Lake Massawippi Fish & Game Club. He also dedicated many hours to the sportsman’s community by serving as one of the first district instructors for the Quebec hunter’s safety course. This was an ideal public venue for discussing the potential for death and dismemberment by firearms—one of Jim’s many favourite topics.

Jim was a Freemason, who was raised a Master Mason in 1953. He was twice Past Master of the Prince of Wales Lodge in Sherbrooke and then Chaplain of the Lodge in Magog. Membership in the Fraternity had a major and positive influence on his outlook toward mankind and on his relationship with God.

In 1995, Elaine, his loving wife of forty-five years, passed away quietly at the Sherbrooke Hospital after a very long illness. For many years, until her demise, Jim attended to Elaine’s daily needs as she slipped further and further away. He is survived by his three children, Linda, James, and David, all who have been blessed with good looks and brilliant minds. His kids participated in the mass Anglo Exodus from Quebec in the 60s and 70s and now they reside in various other parts of North America.

Jim is survived by his daughter Linda Hosking (Wright), son James Raymond Hosking and other son David Luther Hosking. His grandchildren are Laura Wright and Michael Wright, Julie Hosking (Fitchet), Lisa Hosking (Stanton), Elaine Hosking and Collin Hosking. He was also the great-grandfather of Tyler Fitchet and Olivia Stanton. Expanding the family circle a bit further, Jim was the brother of William, and the sister of Katherine, Alice, and Evelyn, all of New Jersey. Regarding Jim’s obituary, published in 2008 in the Daily Record, some of Jim’s in-laws pointed out that their names were not mentioned in the newspaper. Unencumbered by experience with writing such things, that same author shall try to make amends herein. Accordingly, Jim was the brother-in-law of Lloyd and Rita Bishop, the late Douglas and Ethel Bishop, Lorne and Pauline Bishop, and Douglas and Shirley (Bishop) (late) Willard.

Jim’s presence on this Earth is sorely missed by his family and friends, notwithstanding his corny humour. Clearly, he was a character—strong-willed, quick to help, quick to laugh, and most certainly not a slave to fashion. He had a significant impact on all who met him.

Love to you always, Dad.


James L. Hosking is considered the father of prehistoric archeology in this region. Originally from the United States, he settled in Sherbrooke in 1949. He discovered more than a dozen sites in the region, including the one at Lac des Nations. In the early 1960s, he helped found the Société d’archéologie de Sherbrooke with Abbé René Lévesque. For more than 50 years, he gathered many artifacts, creating one of the most impressive private collections of the region’s prehistoric archeology. In 1973 at Lac des Nations, James L. Hosking discovered an artifact that leads us to believe that First Nations people were in this area between 6 000 and 4 000 years before present.

Hosking, James L.  1922-1928
Passed away suddenly on Tuesday June 17, 2008 at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. Dear father of Linda Wright of Kitchener. As requested by James, a private funeral service will be held, graveside in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Related reading:





Newspaper article from David Hosking

Where is Pointe James Hosking?–Click here

Monday, January 18th, 2010

As of December 1st, 2009, the Southern portion of Lac des Nations is officially known as Pointe James Hosking.  It fulfills one of Jim’s most intense and long-lasting wishes. He would often speak with a sense of urgency over the matter of having a plaque put up along the river`s edge to make known the culture that lived there before us.

It was made known to him when he found the spear point in the lake, and he wanted so badly to share this knowledge with others because he had a deep love and respect for anything involving conservation, history, culture and above all, people – even if they lived there thousands of years ago and he never saw them. It didn’t matter – he still had a deep respect for them and would often say how he wished he could have met them.

His convictions are a crying voice to the memory of our forgotten ancestors, a voice that would not have been so readily expressed by any other person other than himself. I am proud of James Hosking for this. He wanted them to be remembered, and it is ironic that through his generous disposition he will be remembered along with them, thus becoming a part of what he loved so much.