James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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Between the wars

Frank Owen out & about After the war Frank went to work for a private firm of architects in the old Toronto Harbour Commission building on the waterfront. The family lived in a series of flats and apartments and spent the summers on the Toronto islands. One winter was spent with the steam heating system full on to help Frank recover from a seriously bout of pneumonia. Soon after that, he went to work as an architectural draughtsman in the Ontario Civil Service, a post he held for fourteen years. The family continued to live in various apartments, moving every few years.

In the summer of 1930 Frank and Gwyn spent a month in England and Wales; the trip was a gift from Mary Tyson, Frank’s sister. They arrived in Southampton from Montreal on 1 August aboard the Montclare and Mary organised a tour of England and North Wales for them in her chauffeur-driven Austin saloon. Frank kept a photographic record of the trip. He and Gwyn returned to Canada aboard the Duchess of Bedford on 29 August. (Both ships were of the Canadian Pacific Line.)

In the early 1930’s Amy was in poor health and travelled across Canada on her own to spend some time in Victoria on the coast in the hope that the sea air would do her good. In 1934 she was found to have advanced cancer and underwent massive surgery. This drained the family savings dry; there was no hospital or medical insurance in those days. In 1935, at the height of the Depression, Frank, along with many others, found himself out of a job. For the next few years he was able to get only occasional small architectural projects until the outbreak of World War II when he began to work for the Dominion Bridge Company in Hamilton. This meant Frank became a weekly boarder, returning at weekends to their tiny apartment in Toronto; Gwyn was then working in Toronto. Frank’s brother Reginald, whose first wife had died of cancer, wrote in a letter of March 1940, "I am glad to hear Amy is rather better and Gwynn evidently is turning out to be more responsible than most youngsters these days." He wrote about their wealthy sister Mary and added, "I expect you will be hearing from her soon as she has been thinking over your affairs", which suggests Mary may again have helped Frank financially. At about this time Gwyn was going overseas with the RCAF and Frank took a job with the CNR in Toronto.

Amongst Frank's papers was this letter from the king's offices.