During the Second World some 500,000 Canadian servicemen came to England. The first arrived in December of 1939, and when the war ended, some 6 years later, almost 1 in 10 had married!
The definition of a War Bride is someone who married overseas, mostly in the UK, and traveled to Canada to join their husbands. There were about 44,000 wives and 22,000 children who made the journey, some brides were widowed, some marriages had failed and some couples decided to settle in the UK.
Most of us though, got on that ship, be it the Queen Mary or the little Lady Rodney (that I came on), left behind the familiar, our families and friends, all we had ever known, to come to a new country. A brave leap of faith!
Many of us barely knew the young men we were joining, had had little if any contact with their families and who can explain 30 below to someone who rarely saw snow.
We were scattered all across this enormous country, coped with whatever life had in store for us, raised our families (estimated at 1 million plus with children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren), and generally became part of the Canadian population, without ever forgetting where we came from.
At one time, every province had a War Brides Association and annual reunions were a great success. However, time has taken its toll and all of those organizations have ceased to exist.
Our numbers are dropping all the time and we are now a diminishing group of women. One of the immutable rules of the original War Bride Associations was that all members had to be War Brides, and while, in later years, family members have been welcome to attend reunions, they were not allowed to be members.
As our numbers and energy levels drop it has become increasing difficult to organize these events, and we are now taking a leaf out of our sister GI Brides to the south, members of the American War Brides Association, and extending full membership privileges and responsibilities to our families.
We still want to be able to get together and have fun! So …a small group of us, with help from some of those many kids we produced, are trying to form a Canada wide organization, inclusive of both War Brides and Family members.
The idea is that the kids do all the work and we just show up and enjoy ourselves. In other words, we want to pass on the torch!
Our first reunion is planned for Saskatoon (Saskatchewan was the first Provincial Association), August 12/13/14, this year.
Most of us came to Canada in 1946, which makes this year the 65th anniversary of our arrival, and therefore a significant date.
We are a significant anomaly in Canadian history, the world will never see our like again, and we hope to continue to celebrate as long as possible.