Bernice Hodgins Milne July 21, 1917 - August 1, 1995
Bernice Hodgins Milne
July 21, 1916 – August 1, 1995

My Mother liked to keep a daily record of her days.  Sometimes these were kept in formal journals and log books; at other times there seemed to be an endless scattering of brief notes and reminders to herself all over the house.  As a kid, I never really paid much attention to either.

After her death, in 1995, my siblings and I packed up all of her books, travel journals, notes and letters into one big box.  I remember my father walking into the room as we were packing and telling us that through all the 60 years of their marriage he had never once opened one of those notebooks.  I admire him for that.

That box remained packed up until this past year, 2013.  My Father died in 2011 and the question of what to do with all the leftover bits and pieces of the lives of these two people came into focus.  Together, my brother and two sisters decided to divide the diaries amongst us and just look and see what was in them.

Once I got past the feeling of violating her privacy, I found myself truly enjoying her accounts of day to day life.  Her voice came through the notes, loud and clear.  Her personality imposed itself on even the most mundane recordings, such as how many cardinals visited the bird feeder.  But most surprising was finding that her earliest journals were from her summer holidays in 1928 and 1929 when she was 11 and 12 years old.

I don’t think it is easy for children to picture their parents as children themselves.  In these brief accounts she paints a picture of what it was like for her as a young girl to be free in the summer months and spending her time as she felt.

Those early diaries and all the others will be recorded in this blog.  There are gaps as her years rolled by and she was too busy for a journal, but taken all together they form a clear picture of the ups and downs of her days until her final entry in 1995.  They form a legacy for the family, but they also form the story of one woman’s life.



July 1928

Seaforth, Ontario
All text is transcribed exactly as she had written it.  Spelling errors, short-forms, and sentence structure as all as she originally written.  Editor.

July 21, 1928
It was my birthday, so in the afternoon, I had a party & at night I was sick at my stomach.

22nd; Lay on the couch out in the veranda all day Sunday because I wasn’t feeling well, and read.

23rd; In the morning I slept in and in the afternoon, we, Betty, Claire, and I went to the slaughter H. and the smell was beyond description so we came home.

24th; I pick black currents in the morn & went over to Aunt Jean’s in the afternoon because Claire had gone swimming & Bett was car riding.

25th; In the aft we went to cases grove for a picnic went in swimming, took some pictures had our lunch got a drive home by Doctor Mun.  (unsure of handwriting.  Could be Dr. Moon; Ed.)   At night we went to the show.

Note; Case’s was a farm east of Seaforth.  It was a popular picnic spot for people from town.  It was later turned into a golf course but went bankrupt during World War Two.

26th; Took the film to get developed and only two out 6 turned out.  In the afternoon I went to sleep til 4 then  we played in the leaves.

27th; The afternoon Alas (I believe she meant ‘Alice’; Ed.) and I played store and then walked down to Cases where Joan and Claire were swimming.  Went to the show with Bett at night.

28th; Lofed around in the morn and in the aft played beauty shop and concert on the lumbers with mashed raspberries for ruge.

29th; In the morning I was to church & Sunday School.  Read all afternoon and went to the band concert with (dear old) Mary Flett.

30th; Slept in in the morning and in the afternoon played with Mary and at night played on the lumbers with that horrid pest of a brother with us.

31st; In the aft I went to a picnic with our Sunday school class and Jenett’s to illegible word exspecially the swim and the eating time.


August 1928

August 1928
Nora was Bernice’s older sister by 5 years.  
The visit to ‘Negmees’ is referring to the Van Egmond family, a well known Seaforth family at the time and close friends with Bernice’s parents and grandparents.

1st; Claire, and I played with Betty M, M. H. MF.  Mary, Claire, Ruth and I got mad so I played in Mary’s house.  At night I did the same.

2nd; In the morning played with Mary and Claire.  In the afternoon we, Joan, Claire and I got under the hose on our lawn then we sowed.

Speedy43rd; Sowed (sic) in the morn.  In the afternoon went in swim had a nice time flowing down the river on logs.   At night I went to Harold Loyd (sic) in Speedy.

4th; In the morning sowed knee pads for the rocks when we floated down the river.  At night Mother came back.

5th; In the morning slept in and then had my bath.  In the afternoon painted & did as usual at night went to the band concert.

6th; In the morning Joan and I played down at the track in the aft Alice Joan and I went swim.  Betty & Claire were away.  At night we were at illegible word.

7th; Were down at Ted’s Gramas in morn.  In the aft. we went swimming.  At night we were peaking in at the show and bake shop.

8th; In the morn we went for a ride with Jim C. to Brucefield then Alice Joan and I didn’t get home till a quarter to one.  After dinner we went swimming.  At night played around.

9th; In the morning I painted and in the afternoon I went to BayField then went in swimming the water was great.  At night went to bed.

10th; Did nothing much In the afternoon went in swimming then it rained so I played with Billy then we went up town in the car.

11th; In the morning Bill and I played in the sand, went swimming in the aft.  At night did as usual, played then went to bed.

12th; All day I just sat around and read or did something the lake was so cold I didn’t go in and nor did I have Billy to play with because he wasn’t home.

13th; In the morning and afternoon I played in the sand in my bathing suit for the lake was to cold to go in.  At night I went to bed.

14th; In the morning I was up the beach hunting stones, in the aft Mama & I went Abraherts & in swim.  At night Billy came back.

15th; Billy and I played in the sand in the morn.  Went in swimming in the aft.  After supper Nanna and I went to the bank to watch the sunset.

16th; In the aft we went in swimming.  In the morning & night I did about as usual in Bay-Field.

18th; In the aft. Counters went to Clinton.  We went in swim. then we went & got a hot dog & went to Aberherts cottage.

19th; I lay around in the morning & in the aft Nanna and I went in swimming.  At night we went up to the Aberherts.

20th; We got up at six in the morn because we had a chance into Seaforth, we went swimming in the aft. then sowed and rode the illegible word.

21st; In the morn. didn’t do much.  Played with Betty in the afternoon.  At night I went to the picture show with Nora and Nancy.

22nd; In the morning I didn’t have enyone to play with.  In the afternoon I went to a picnic down and Negmees.  It lasted till illegible word.

23rd; In the morning & aft. we played around.  at night Bettsy & I got fussed up using powder, cold cream, Italian perfume, illegible word just to go to show.

24th; It was terribly cold all day.  In the morning we played around.  In the aft. we played dress ups in our house.  At went to see a performance in the park.

25th; Betty and I got mad in the morning & made up in the afternoon.  At night we got fussed up and went up town.  Had a hot dog and & ice cream.

26th; In the morning I had a bath & went to church.  In the aft. Betty and I went walking with Buster.  At night Betty & I & her Grandma went to the Band.

27th; In the morn Betty & I got mad at each other.  In the aft we went swimming.  At night Betty & I went to Clara Bow in Hula with Nancy & Nora.

February 1929

February 1929
6th; Went to school.  After I went sleigh r. At night I went to Helen Smith’s.

7th; Went to school, after I went sleigh riding with Helen.  At night I practised and studied.

8th; Went to school.  After school took my lesson. At night went to club and practised “Incomprehensible.”

9th; (Saturday)
Function in the morning with H. S. Had a street car adventure.

10th;  Slept in & read.  I did not go to church or Sunday school as I did not feel well.

11th; Went school & in the morning we had cooking.  At night I went to Guides.

12th; Went school then went sleigh riding but soon had to pull Bob home because he hurt his leg.

This is all she writes for 1929.  She seems to be interested in developing the habit of keeping a journal but we have no further entries or books until she begins again in 1931.  The family seems to have moved to Toronto sometime in 1928, hence the streetcar adventure.  
The 1931 journal entries are much longer and more descriptive.  She also kept some of her creative writing assignments.

January 1931, Toronto

Diary 1931

  1. I will try not to use any more slang, or swear.
  2. I will try not to lose my temper when Nora bosses me around and I will try and keep our room tidy and hang up my clothes.
Saturday Jan. 3.
     The Christmas holidays have been terribly dry since there has been little snow.  I’m afraid I have stuck around the house entirely too much but there was nothing to do half the time except skate.  We, Nora, Helen A., Marion and myself were skating on Harveys the other day and in some places we could hear the ice crack so we walked over to Greny (Grenadier Pond in High Park) on our skates.  I fell about 6 times (with no exageration) and when we got there we were all too tired to skate so we took off our skates and came home.
     Margee Haugh had a party the other night and I was quite shocked for it didn’t start till 8o’clock.  I have been doing Christmas cards but I’m not much of an artist although Mother thinks they are very good.
My Report (I am partly pleased with it and partly not.)
Composition    66     History     71
Literature         64
Geography      67
Algebra           82
Art                  58
Botany           70
Latin               92
French            77
P.T or Gym    62
Standing – 7.  % – 71.
     I am not pleased with my standing or my comp & lit marks.  I hope to improve them next time.
     I was down to see “Tom Sawyer” at the Imperial Wednesday and it was a lovely picture.  Coming home some of us got hungry and went into the (illegible word) for something to eat.  There was a man in there who was whistling and smiling at everybody and when Grace had gotten her eats and had gone down to her table he followed and pulled out her chair for her and shoved it in when she sat down.  Then he asked very politely how she was and also that the weather wasn’t very nice and then he said something very impolite and Grace turned her back on him.  When I came down I wondered why she was being so rude to him but Betty (who was sitting across from her) motioned to me to go to another table.  This I did and Betty and Grace soon got up and left him and came and sat down beside me.
     “Don’t you know him?” I asked them.
     “No we don’t” replied Grace “and what’s more if he comes near me again I shall scream.”
     By this time the man had gone up to the counter and put down some money.
     “This is to pay for their food.”
     “There (sic) food has already been paid for” said the waitress.
     “But I was strictly told to pay for it.”
     “There must be some mistake” replied the waitress “they have already paid for it.”
     But he still argued and 3 more waitresses were called out to explain to him and at last he got it into his head and rather angry put on his coat and hat and turned and went out of the door.
     This story I have just written has really happened and now I am going to write another one that has happened but a long time ago when Dorthy (sic) Walker lived on our street.
to be continued….Editor

January 1931 Continued…Two Kisses for a Quarter

Note from the editor; Unfortunately this journal has some water damage to the bottom of the pages.  In the interest of keeping the story fluent and entertaining I have done some guess work to fill in the illegible passages.  I believe I have kept the nature of the story and Bernice’s intent true.    

     Coming home from school one day Dorthy and Helen and I were joined by Fred Gailler.  (the said Dorthy’s boyfriend)  Fred seemed very worried about something and wanted to talk to Dorthy but Dorthy said if he had something to say, he could say it out loud.  At first Fred refused but at last he gave in.
     “I’ve got to have a quarter,” he said “and I want you to lend me that quarter that you got back from Mary.”
     “But I can’t” said Dorthy.  “It’s not mine it’s mother’s.”
     “Oh your mother wouldn’t mind” said the irresistible Fred “and anyways I’ll pay it back in couple of days.”
     “Well what will you give me for it?” asked Dorthy.
     Fred then named many things but Dorthy wanted none of them and at last we were called upon to suggest (things)  I have forgotten what I suggested but I remember that Helen first in fun suggested that a 25 cent for 2 kisses would be only fair.  Dorthy thought that an excellent idea & asked Fred if he would do it.  At first Fred resisted but he seemed to need the quarter terribly badly.  At last he said he would do it but,  “Would would your friends be along?”
     “Oh yes let them, please” said Dorthy.  “They won’t look, will you?”
     No we said we wouldn’t but I am afraid the temptation became to great and in the end we did look.
     The question then was where would they do it?
     “The only place said Dorthy is to do it over in the park.”
     “All right” said Fred “But lets hurry.” So we started off Helen & I expecting to enjoy it hugely and Dorthy rather anxious about the quarter, & Fred nervous lest Dorthy should change her mind.
     The said park was one of the most natural park in Toronto and was grown over with underbrush & trees these were run through by winding paths and it was off one of these paths that we found a log amongst the bushes.
     “You kids have got to promise not to tell” said Fred as he and Dorthy sat down on the log.  Helen and I promised and then sat down facing them our hands covering our eyes (with small spaces between &) then I said one, two, three go and we heard two loud smacks.  The kissing was over and now the money belonged to Fred who now seemed anxious to get away.
     “I’ve gotta go now Dorthy” he said.
     “All right” replied Dorthy “but don’t forget I’ve only lent you the quarter.”
     “O.K. Goodbye” and he was off along the path.
     We started home the other way and as we neared home Dorthy became rather sorry that she had done it.
     “I wouldn’t mind so much if it had of been my quarter” she grumbled explained complained.  “but mother’s sure to ask for it to-night and I’m sure I don’t know what I’ll say.”
     We had come to our street now and the boys who were out playing began to yell out at Dorthy.
(I could not make out what was written here –it has to be left to your imagination. Editor)
    I don’t know who found out but it soon spread all over the street and worst of all our names were associated with it.
     However, Dorthy told her mother that she had lost the quarter and for punishment she was sent to bed right after supper.  She got up though and came out on the veranda roof in her night gown and through (sic) us down notes until Mr. McFee phoned her mother.
     She never got the quarter back though and I know she still grieves over it.  I know that I should.

     I rather like that story that is why I wrote it down.  The following story is also true with a little exagerration.
 Stay tuned for next week’s installment.

In a Pickle January 1931

To Continue…
The following story is also true with a little exagerration.

     “Have another pickle” urged Dorthy as she and Helen were doing the dishes in the Walker kitchen.  (they lived on the second floor of … illegible due to water damage)  Helen however didn’t need to be urged to have another one since pickles were her weakness.  She had already had 5 out of a freshly opened bottle and kept having another one until the dishes as well as the pickles were done.
     “I’m glad I’ve got them done at last,” said Dorthy.  “Mother won’t be able to scold me now when she gets home.”
     “I guess I’d better go now,” said Helen looking at her watch.”  “Your mother will be home anytime.”
     “Listen!” said Dorthy as footsteps sounded on the stairs.  “Make for the bathroom quick.”
     Helen ‘made’ for the bathroom & in a few minutes she heard Dorthy and mother conversing.
     “I’m going out with Charly tonight dear,” she heard Mrs. Walker say, “and I want you to get the supper while I have a bath.”
     A bath! (illegible sentence) The bathroom was at the end of the hall so there was no way to escape.  She could just walk out & present herself to Mrs. Walker but this, Helen knew too well would bring Dorthy a punishment and to herself embarrassment.  She looked wildly about her and a glint of hope came into her eyes as she noticed a door that she had not seen before. She made a dash for this and turned the knob.  Much to her surprise the door came open and revealed a closet with few clothes.  She entered this and closed the door just as Mrs. Walker came into the bathroom.
     Then came an endless half hour which seemed to Helen hours.  The air in the closet became very close and she was terrified lest Mrs. Walker should open the door in search of clothes.
     Would Mrs. Walker ever finish? she thought and if she did finish and come to the closet what would she do?  Make a dash for the door or stand there horrified?
     Helen could not make up her mind which she would do but as Mrs. Walker came out of the bathroom and went along the hall just thenit was not necessary to deside. (sic)
     Helen opened the door and waited for a few minutes hoping that Dorthy would come in.
     No Dorthy appeared however and Helen crept cautiously to the door.  Here she stopped to listen and heard Dorthy and her mother conversing in the kitchen apparently eating their supper.
     Helen stuck her head out and fining the way clear she jumped up and raced joyously down the hall and stairs as fast as her legs would carry her.
     As soon as her mind settled down she became quite enraged at Mrs. Walker for taking a bath such an awful time.  When she became very angriest (sic) she vowed she would never again help Dorthy with the dishes and to this day that promise has been kept.

Next week Bernice gets a detention…


School Blues

Sunday Feb 9th
I have not written in this for a long time in story or diary form.  I suppose one of the causes is the fact that I have had the flu and have missed 2 weeks of school.  Thus I have had to do a lot of extra homework.
At school, “all’s well” as usual.  I had a detention from Hatch the other night.  He gives me a pain now and seems to delight in making girls cry.  But he won’t make me.
I hate school now and I never want to do my homework or anything.  I doubt if I’ll pass next time.
I went down to Hart House to see the “Gondoliers” yesterday and enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday March 24th
We have all our exams over and are not doing much at school.  My marks are very discusting (sic) and there are only 2 that I am pleased with, art and algebra.
Composition 68
Literature 66
Geography 66
Algebra 90
Art 70
Botany 65
Latin 77
French 66
Gymn 68
History 68
Standing – 9   %70.5

I have decided that I hate Mr. Ford.  Of all the pains I took with my note book and wrote a page on nearly every city and then I only got 12 term marks out of 20 and Helen Abell got 18.  I won’t say that my writing’s better that hers (b I got higher marks on all my other note books but geography than she did.)  I took the trouble to do mine in red ink and all the other teachers gave me higher marks for my writing than they did her and then he went and gave me –illegible words- old pig.  If I get him in third for English I’m done for.  And how!
I’m beginning to steam my hair and its twice as curly although nobody seems to like it much.  At least they don’t say so.

Next week, Bernice, Nora and Helen have an adventures with a strange man on their street… stay tuned.


Something Exciting for a Change, April 1931

Sunday morning (before breakfast)
April 19th – I must unload myself first about Grace.  Last Monday night coming home from Guides she was serious positively serious & told me a few thing about her father.  She never told us last winter that he had nuemonia (sic) & it wasn’t until Monday night that she told me.  Then she told me that her father (so the doctors told him) had only a few months to live.  It gave me an awful shock and made me feel quite different about her.
     Second – yesterday we went for a hike to the creek.  We had lots of fun & all fell in several times (especially Marian who afterwards went in wading up to her knees with her shoes & stockings on.)  We played ball & ate & explored & played with our “yo-yos” (the latest fad)

     Third – I must tell you what happened last night.  Something exciting for a change.
     The first scene is in our sitting room where Nora & I were reading before the fire.  The telephone rang & Nora answered it. “Its Helen” she said “she says there’s a man over there knocking on there (sic) door who won’t go away.  She wanted Jack (Bernice’s older brother would have been about 19 at the time) or Daddy to go over but since there (sic) out we’ll have to go.”
     Eager for adventure I jumped up & we both ran downstairs & out the front door.
     From the veranda we could see a man knocking on the front door so or curiosity rising we drew nearer to Abell’s.  The parlor light was on & presently Helen and Bob came to the window.
     “What’s the matter with him?” questioned Nora as Helen stuck her head out the open window.
     “Search me” said Helen “He’s been knocking there for ten minutes now and he’s been saying the strangest things, that’s why I’m not going to the door.”
     The man had evidently heard the conversation and came down the steps to where Nora was.
     He was dressed rather richly, was about thirty years old, and had a old thin knoted (sic) piece of cord around his neck.  As he approached her he held out the two ends of the rope.  “Tie this,” he said thickly, apparently wanted to hang himself on a thin piece of cord about a yard long.  Nora drew back & it was Helen who took the place.
     “Get out of here you big ham” she cried, in the roughest tone she could manufacture.  “Or I’ll lay off and sock you one.”
  “N-now just tie this please” he said holding the ends out to her.  It was then that Mr. and Mrs. Abell drove up in the car.
  “Dad make this big bozo get out of here ” called Helen to her father.
     The man, seeing the car in the driveway, tried to get Mrs. Abell to tie the rope & would not even go away at Mr. Abell’s commands.  This angered Mr. Abell & getting out of the car he punched the man onto the sidewalk & told him to go home.
     The man presently got into a car parked in front of our place & drove up the street.  Here he stopped & Helen and Grace & I going up later found him calmly smoking a cigarette.
Next week Bernice gives her opinions on all her teachers, reveals a crush on a boy, and gives her opinion on all of her teachers.

A Crush, Teachers and The Quire

Sunday April 26, 1931
I have just been to 8 o’clock communion. there were only 12 there amongst whom was my boy friend –G.  Those are his initials.  I won’t write his name.
     I know several things about him although I have never really met him.
1.  He goes to our church & was confirmed same time as I was.
2.  He usually goes to church with a friend of his but the friend was not there this morning.
3.  He goes to Humberside & is in Mr. Devitt’s form.
4.  I think he is very nice.  He is a church goer anyways.
He is terribly handsome escpecially (sic) when he smiles & I think a lot of him getting up so early to go to church escpecially )sic) when he didn’t have any one to go with.  The clock was changed last night so we really got up one hour earlier.

Our Teachers

Miss McCraie -Latin-  I like her awfully well although she is rather sloppy.

Miss MacIntosh -French- I also like her & I think it’s real mean for the boys to make her cry.  She is rather funny though.  One minute she’ll be real mad & the next she’ll be smiling.

Miss McNerre -(I know I’ve spelled it wrong)  She’s nice but I don’t like her much.  She doesn’t even know my name yet.  History.

Miss MacAllister -Gym- I can’t stand her.  I can do everything almost & yet she hardly give me a mark for it. Pig!  She just has a pick on me & anyways her bloomer leg is always showing.  Even in pictures.

Mr. Ford -Geography- I’ve written enough in here about him and nothing is very complimentary either.  He’s another pig.

Mr. Hatch -Art- I like him most of the time but sometimes I don’t.  He’s rather a queer personage.  He’s very strict & yet there is a decided sense of humour about him.  He speaks of things that no other teacher would dare speak of.  He is a fine looking man with an old fashioned moustache.  He is always asking rather funny questions like
-“What is a cow?”
“An animal.”
“Gracious no!  A cow is a cow isn’t it?”

Mr. Kinney -Funny looking.  Quiet.  Nobody will do anything he is saying.  I feel sort of sorry for him.  Algebra

Stuffy (or Mr. McGinnes) He is always yelling at us if we talk.  An old hen but rather nice.

Miss Mitchell (English) She is extremely clever & knows all about words.  I admire her but am not particularly fond of her.

Our Quire
     Anyone reading the following descriptions will certainly end with the opinion that our quire is composed of freaks.  (which they are)  Grace & I often laugh over them & I’m sure if you could see them you would too.
     There is “Beaky” so called because of her long, pointed beak-like nose.  She is to me the most maddening person in the quire.  Every time the quire gets up to sing she faces the congregation.