40 Year Secret
Saturday August 6 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
In the 1960s, pregnant teenagers quickly discovered that so-called 'free love' had a huge price - and lasting consequences. Linda Dawe and Raymond Cave were high school sweethearts in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The unexpected pregnancy that resulted turned their lives upside down and, if not for a chance meeting forty years later, could have ended a remarkable and poignant love story. 40 Year Secret is a compelling documentary glimpse into the human spirit and the wrongs that can happen when society acts 'holier than thou'.
It was Expo 67 - Canada's 100th birthday, just a year before Trudeaumania. The radios were blaring The Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, and The Temptations. Linda and Ray had 'become an item', sharing a love of music, spontaneity and sex. Everything was perfect until Linda discovered she was pregnant. Then the sky fell in. Forty years ago, an unwed mother was to be hidden away. To save their family's good name, Linda's parents insisted she leave The Sault for the duration of the pregnancy. There was to be no arguing - the baby would be put up for adoption.
Confused, angry and humiliated, Linda was shipped off to a Salvation Army home for unwed mothers in Toronto. Like many of the young women in the home, she desperately wanted to keep her child, but there was nowhere to turn. After the physically and emotionally painful birth of her baby girl, she would return home to Sault Ste Marie, her secret under wraps. The father, Raymond Cave, was forced completely out of the picture, but he would never forget the love of his life.
Linda wasn't alone - life-long secrets were held by thousands of women who were also forced to give up their babies. For the first time, some of these women talk publicly of the indignities they suffered and the emotional scars that mark their adult lives, but mostly of the profound agony of having their babies snapped away, some never to be seen again. It is an indictment of an era when young women had no voice and 'society knew best'.
For Linda and Ray, failed communication meant neither knew of the other's undying love, so they went their separate ways. For Linda that meant a career in music, marriages, a son and widowhood. Ray got married and divorced a few times too. He became an engineer and pilot, traveled the world, and pursued his own interest in music. Then forty years later, at their high school reunion, seeing one another in a loud and crowded gymnasium, they knew their love was still there as it had always been -- deep and lasting and true.
After all of those missing years, Linda and Ray were married and set out to find the missing piece - the daughter that Linda had seen ever so briefly and named 'Melanie' way back in 1967. But where could they turn? And how would they start? And would they ever be able to, as Linda's mom says, "put everything back where it belongs".
40 Year Secret is narrated by acclaimed Canadian actor, director and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, Sarah Polley.
40 Year Secret is written and directed by Mary Anne Alton, and produced by Mary Anne Alton and Deborah Parks for Dundas Productions Inc. in association with CBC News Network, with financial support from the Canadian Television Fund, CAVCO, OMDC, Rogers Documentary Fund and Rogers Telefund.