Canadian soldiers and airmen began arriving in Britain before then end of 1939 – and kept coming for the next 5 years. In all there were some 500,000 of them, many spent 3 or more years in the UK, some not leaving until 1946! It is not surprising that many – as many as 1 in 10 – married during this time. After the invasion of Europe and the liberation of Holland, brides from the continent were added, approximately 2,000 from Holland and a some from Belgium, France, Italy as well as other countries.
In some cases wives and children were sent to Canada during the War years, with some harrowing accounts of rough weather and sometimes even U-boats! Most of the War Brides, however, came in 1946, landing in Halifax, and then continued their journey across Canada by train. Wherever we ended up we always found other War Brides and for some these friendships continue to this day. Some informal groups were formed but it was in Saskatchewan around 1975, that the first legally constituted Association came into being. Other provinces followed, and soon there were Associations in almost every Province.
As the years passed, the numbers dwindled, and by 2010 after 35 years, most were closing. But there was one determined lady who was not ready to let this happen, Jean Fells, wonder warbride! Originally from Leeds, England, she initially came to the farm in Girvin, Saskatchewan. and was Vice-President of the Saskatchewan War Brides in 2010. At that final meeting she asked who of those present were interested in carrying on, interested in forming a new, Canada-wide organization, which would also include family members. And that is how we, the Canadian War Brides and Families, came into being! Since then, we have had reunions in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Victoria, British Columbia; London, Ontario; Calgary, Alberta; and Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2017 we will celebrate in Ottawa Ontario May 19 – 21st as part of Canada`s 150th Birthday! (see our Reunion page for more information).
Now family members out-number War Brides, but we still do the same events, and what we most enjoy. We love to get together, visit, update, reminisce about days gone by, sing the old songs, do Knees Up Mother Brown, and have a lot of laughs! We do not know what the future holds, but we plan to continue, passing on the responsibility to the families! After all, we are told, between children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren we have a million descendants – that should give us immortality!