Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent

Dear diary

Dear diary,

It’s been raining for three days now. To keep my little brothers from getting restless, I made a scrapbook with them, using photographs we found in our summer house. Here’s the result: a typical day when our family is on holiday in St. Patrick, Rivière-du-Loup. 

– Annie, 15 years old, July 17, 1936

Painting of a kneeling girl picking strawberries in a field, with dark hills in the background.
9 a.m.

Wild strawberries! In the morning, the children usually play outside while the maid tidies their room and makes their beds. They pick wild strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. This is the time of day when my mother usually speaks with the gardener and cook. What will we have for lunch? Lettuce, radishes, snow peas or carrots from the garden might be served at noon today.

Two young women and two girls pose on rocks by the shore. A changing-cabin is in the background.
10 a.m.

This photograph reminds me of the way we spend our mornings. If it isn’t too cold, Nanny takes the children down to the beach. The water, sun and wind tire them out. When they come back home, they have a bite to eat and then, usually, they take a nap.

Ink drawing of children riding in a two-wheeled horse cart decorated with branches.
11 a.m.

I’m not that old, but I can no longer count the number of outings we’ve been on, either the whole family or just us young people. Mrs. Evans has made a very good sketch of us leaving for a picnic. The neighbour, a farmer, is bringing the food and the smaller children with his horse and cart.

Photograph of some twenty young people at a picnic.
12:45 p.m.

Picnics! Our parents are more relaxed than usual. Rules aren’t as strict and we’re delightfully free! My favourite picnics are the ones on the beach, since we light a little fire to keep the mosquitoes away.

The meal is simple: sandwiches, milk, tea, fruit, cookies and sometimes even marshmallows to roast over the fire.

A man on vacation is reading, sitting on a wicker bench at the rear of a summer residence.
1:45 p.m.

After eating well, it’s quiet time. Some read, write or take a nap…

Four men play tennis on the lawn of a hotel on the shore of the St. Lawrence.
2 p.m.

...while others get a game of golf or tennis match going. Notice how elegantly the players are dressed. For tennis, they always wear white. It’s a tradition!

The bright living room of a summer home decorated with bouquets of flowers.
4 p.m.

Whether accompanying Mother, the gardener or Nanny, I’ve always loved to pick flowers. My bouquets change with the season: lilac and rose in spring, then garden and wild flowers! When the weather is fine, the living room, dining room and veranda are already full of flowers by four-o’clock tea. The adults enjoy this break to talk and plan the evening, while admiring the scenery and tasting homemade delights.

A young woman laces the shoes of a seated woman.
5 p.m.

Time to get ready for dinner. My grandmother told me that when she was young she had to change outfits many times a day! Back then, they needed a maid or companion to help them to put on, lace up and adjust all their different pieces of clothing. Evening dress was the most elaborate.

A dozen guests are seated at a dining table.
7 p.m.

In the old days, children of rich families hardly ever ate dinner with the grown-ups. They would have their supper earlier and spend the evening with their nannies.

Dinner was the most important meal of the day for adults, as it is today! Conversation stretched on into the night. Sometimes, the evening would end with a dance at a neighbour’s house. There wasn’t a party every night, but opportunities to make merry were plentiful. I’m really looking forward to the day I can join in!

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