Just a Larger Family: Letters of Marie Williamson from the Canadian Home Front,1940-1944 (Life Writing)
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The Second World War had been under way for a year when Marie and John Williamson welcomed two English brothers to join them and their two children in their small house in north Toronto for the duration of the conflict. Marie wrote over 150 letters to the boys’ mother, Margaret Sharp, imagining that she could make Margaret feel she was still with her children. She shepherded the boys through education decisions and illnesses, eased them into a strange new life, and rejoiced when they embraced unfamiliar winter sports. The letters brim with detail about family holidays, the financial implications of an extended family, their involvement in their church, and the games and activities that kept them occupied. Marie’s letters reflect the lives and concerns of a particular family in Toronto, but they also reveal a portrait of what was then Canada’s second-largest city during wartime.
The introduction is by Mary F. Williamson, Marie’s daughter, and Tom Sharp, Margaret’s youngest son. The book features a foreword by Jonathan Vance that puts the letters in historical context.
the irst day’s sale. Bill’s foster father Harry Ratclife was directing the Canadian War Bonds campaign from 10 INTRODUCTION Ottawa. Interest in buying the bonds was generated in Toronto by staged air raids in which lealets were dropped. In 1941, the irst blackout was held in Toronto, lasting half an hour. Essential services were exempted, but anybody who violated the strict regulations was subject to penalties. In order to simulate a real air raid, airplanes swooped over the city. Cars were
had a bad start in spelling there was not a great deal one could do about it except extend all the help possible as he went along and he felt C. would probably do Grade VII spelling just as well as he would Grade VI, which is exactly my feeling about it.... I hope you got my last letter, asking you please not to worry about clothes for the boys—Vivien joins me in assuring you that we don’t want you to send a thing or even think about it. As far as C. & T. go they have simply heaps of everything
come to the house since the chicken pox) except for a few moments at U.T.S. the other night, but I believe the work is getting under way. I do hope you get a good holiday at Christmas. The boys will have 2 weeks Dec 19 to Jan 5. I love this mild weather but still I would like to have some snow and ice by then, for the children’s sake.  90 DUNVEGAN ROAD TORONTO, DECEMBER 8 Dear Margaret Christopher has been the second victim of chicken pox, but the worst is over now. He came down Thursday
read them and yet I don’t want 1942 161 to appear to pry. I usually say “If you can’t make it out, bring it to me and I’ll read it”—sometimes he does & sometimes not. So if I don’t report all letters and cards I’m sorry. I try to get them to answer letters but it’s pretty hard. A Christmas cable from Mrs. Tylecote (?) arrived this week. A lot of the Christmas cables from England to Canada took 3 weeks which is annoying a great many people. I let Tom up yesterday afternoon—his cough seemed
start to hurt now I don’t know—it’s most provoking. When the scar healed, it grew to the bone, and now it seems as though every time I move my leg it pulls on that adhesion. The doctor who attended me at that time (and to whom I’m sure I owe my life) is now Medical Director at the Canada Life and sent word to me by John to come see him but it has not been very convenient to do so yet.6 If it continues I’ll have to see him, but in the meantime I can’t take the children out skiing which is rather