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Introduction My first taste of the Frost brothers’ war letters dates to the spring of 1978. I was hosting a book club discussion of Timothy Findley’s novel The Wars. Findley and his partner, Bill Whitehead, were neighbours, so I invited them. I also invited my neighbour Marjorie Porter, who had mentioned a collection of war letters. During the discussion, Marjorie asked about the source of so much darkness in Findley’s novel. Robert Ross, Findley explained, was based on his uncle Tiff, who wrote gloomy letters from France. Once back in Toronto, his psyche never recovered. “But Daddy and Uncle Les wrote such positive, often humorous letters,” she told the novelist. “Their letters paint a much different impression of the same war.” ❖ ❖ ❖ Marjorie’s Uncle Les was better known as Leslie M. Frost, premier and sometimes “prime minister”1 of Ontario from 1949 to 1961. Her father, Cecil (pronounced “Sessil,” as in “Rhodes”) was a political organizer and, in 1936, mayor of Lindsay, Ontario, where the two men owned a successful law firm. Leslie and Cecil were two of three sons of William and Margaret Frost. In 1867 the boys’ grandfather, John A. Frost, with his wife, Janet, and three young children, left Scotland for Canada. They landed in Toronto, then took the train north to Belle Ewart, at the southern end of Lake Simcoe. There they boarded the Emily May, which steamed up Lake Simcoe through the narrows at Atherley to the little town of Orillia on Lake Couchiching. Family legend has them arriving in both Toronto and Orillia on Canada’s first Dominion Day.2 The Frosts were good at linking significant national events with family history. With a population of about 750, Orillia was incorporated in November 1866, and its council first met in 1867. Soon John Frost opened the Glasgow Bakery, named after his home city in Scotland. John’s son, William Sword Frost, born in 1864, pursued his education in the manner of the time—in 1878 at age fourteen he was indentured as an apprentice to Matthew Drew, Orillia’s pioneer watchmaker “to learn the art or trade of watch making and manufacturing jewellery for five years.” Less 1 than three years later, Drew wrote a letter of recommendation. His student was “a good, steady boy anxious to learn his business,” and “faithful to all his engagements.” William Frost moved on to Toronto, probably shortly after Drew’s letter of October 1880. In the big city, he apprenticed as a ring maker and diamond setter, then returned to Orillia to work for J.B. Thompson , jeweller and watchmaker. In 1883, when John Frost died, William’s income was no doubt essential to his widowed mother and two siblings. On New Year’s Day, 1890, William Frost married Margaret Barker. Her parents, William and Maria (Waud) Barker, had migrated from Yorkshire and Lancashire, respectively, to London, Ontario, where “Maggie,” as she was known then, was born in 1865. William Barker’s father had failed in the cotton business near Manchester when power looms replaced hand looms in the 1830s. That failure may have prompted him to migrate to British North America. In England, the Barkers and the Wauds had belonged to the Church of England, but in Canada they became Methodists. When Margaret married William Frost, she became a Presbyterian, but she was also associated with the Salvation Army of Orillia. William and Margaret’s first child, Grenville Barker Frost, was born in 18913 in the family home at the corner of Mississaga and Wyandotte Streets, not far from the centre of town. The next year, with $300 lent by Andrew Miscampbell ,4 a fellow Presbyterian and Conservative member at Queen’s Park for Simcoe East, William Frost established “W.S. Frost and Company, Diamond Hall.”5 When the Frosts’ second son was born on 20 September 1895, William and Margaret named him Leslie Miscampbell in honour of the family’s benefactor . Cecil Gray Frost, the youngest, was born on 15 August 1897,6 not long after the family had moved into the more commodious “Highlands” in 2 INTRODUCTION Stationery of the Glasgow Bakery, 1869. The bakery was located on Peter Street south of Mississaga Street. John Frost was grandfather of the Frost brothers. (Courtesy of Simcoe County Archives, B1 R4A S6 Sh4, p28.) north Orillia near the Muskoka Road. From there they had a view of Lake Couchiching. In 1906, having rented two different locations for his business , William Frost purchased a...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781554580897
Related ISBN
9781554580002
MARC Record
OCLC
716060116
Pages
420
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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