Fonds 259 War Brides Collection

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Summary information

Repository: South Peace Regional Archives
Title: South Peace War Brides collection
Reference code: 0259
Date: 1913-2006 (date of creation)
Physical description: 9 cm of textual records

69 photographs

11 audio cassettes

Language: English
Dates of creation, revision and deletion: Processed by Mary Nutting, January 2007
Exported from AoR and added to new database May 2022 – TD

Administrative history / Biographical sketch

Between 1942 and 1948, nearly 45,000 War Brides accompanied by 21,000 children came to Canada from Britain and Europe to join their husbands. Entire departments of government were devoted to bringing the war brides home. The Canadian Wives Bureau of the Civilian Repatriation Section in England processed their papers, told them what to expect in Canada, and provided them with train passes. The “Aquitania” was one of the elegant ocean liners assigned to the war bride detail. The Red Cross and the Salvation Army provided escort service on board, taking care of minor medical problems, organizing feedings and daycare for children, and delivering tea and crackers to seasick war brides. After going through immigration in Halifax, the women boarded trains for the journey westward. Those travelling to the Peace country had many stops and miles ahead of them. New families and new communities and unfamiliar living conditions awaited them.

Custodial history

The records were deposited in South Peace Regional Archives as a result of the War Brides project in 2007.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of autobiographical stories from 18 World War II brides who came to the Peace Country after meeting their Canadian husbands in Britain and Europe during the War. Copies of photographs and documents are included in some series. 11 recordings of interviews conducted by Mary Nutting are also included.

Notes

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

Restrictions on access

Only excerpts of “My Life in a Nutshell” (Grace Miller Thomson’s memoirs) can be used.

Accruals

No accruals are expected

Access points

  • Sound recording (documentary form)
  • Textual record (documentary form)
  • Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)
  • Land, settlement and immigration* (subject)
  • Military (subject)
  • Women (subject)
  • Family and personal life* (subject)
  • Alberta (place)
  • England (place)

Table of contents

0259.01, Grace Thomson, 1913-2004

0259.02, Vi Dryer, 1943-2006

0259.03, Margaret Weaver, 1943-2006

0259.04, Wilhelmina Johnston, 1943-2006

0259.05, Aleyda Campbell, 2006

0259.06, Margaret Krzyczkowski, 1943-2006

0259.07, Gretha Gerow, 1941-2006

0259.08, Jean Conrad Drysdale, 1935-2006

0259.09, Margaret LeCerf, 2006

0259.10, Marjorie Pettit, 1940-2006

0259.11, Audrey Cook, 1940-2006

0259.12, Betty Eskdale, 2006

0259.13, Grace Nellis, 1946-2006

0259.14, Hilary Lightfoot, 1944-2006

0259.15, Daphne Derocher, 2006

0259.16, Mary Tangen, 2006

0259.17, Cathy Golding, 1939-2006

0259.18, Sheila Peterson, 1925-2006

Series descriptions

Series 0259.01: Grace Thomson

Date: 1913-2004 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of a handwritten copy of memories from her early days as Grace Miller, in the orphanage, as a working teenager and then her marriage to Joe Thomson and her coming to Canada as a war bride; 28 photos describing Grace Miller’s early days in the orphanage to her teenage working days and then her marriage to Joe Thomson, the birth of her daughter, and her coming to Canada as a war bride; photos describing her married life after coming to Canada as a war bride and living in several towns in Saskatchewan; photos describing Grace’s life after the death of her husband when she moved to Grande Prairie where she was closer to her daughter and grandchildren. 10 pages of copies of news articles and memorabilia from war brides’ conventions.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

28 photographs

Note:

Grace Pamela Miller’s early life was spent in St. Mary’s Waif and Stray Home, an orphanage run by the Church of England. She never saw her mother but knew she had TB and was confined to hospital. At fourteen, she left school and worked at cleaning jobs in the Home and at sixteen she went into domestic service. She had been so used to bells, she didn’t know how to tell time so had to teach herself. She was given a maid’s uniform, the cost of which came out of her pay along with the cost of any breakage. She joined the Girls Friendly Society which allowed her to spend holidays at the seaside. She later worked in the Cane Hill Hospital on the domestic staff and that is where she met her English soldier, Joe. Joe had been to Canada with his father in 1919 and had come back with the Canadian army during WW11. She and Joe married in 1941 and their daughter, Sheila, was born in 1942. Since Joe was still in service, Grace stayed with the Swindon family until the war ended. Joe went back to Canada and Grace went to London to get their papers in order so she and Sheila, now 4, could come to Canada. They sailed on the Queen Mary on June 5,1946, and arrived in St. Walberg, Saskatchewan where she was greeted by Joe and others. A ladies group from the United Church gave her two cups and saucers and a mirror. She was overwhelmed by the kindness of her new neighbors. Her new life was all too much to take in at first, kind of like a dream world. The first fall, she canned everything she could think of as she thought there would be no fresh food available in the winter. When winter came, she found even at -60’ the stores still had plenty of food. She made many good friends, ones she still writes to. Joe worked for a dray company delivering coal and other goods. Three years later they moved to Saskatoon where Grace was active in the Anglican Church (the women’s group, Sunday school teacher, and Brownie leader.)

In 1971, after Joe died, Grace moved to Grande Prairie to be near her daughter who was expecting her first baby. Here she made new friends easily by becoming involved for twenty years in choir and theatre groups.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.01.01 Item – St. Mary’s Orphanage  ca. 1915 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

The orphanage in Hampstead Heath, England, where Grace Miller spent her early childhood

0259.01.02 Item – Grace as a Child  1918 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace Miller spent her early childhood in St. Mary’s Orphanage at Hampstead Heath.

0259.01.03 Item – Grace as a Teenager  ca. 1927 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace Miller spent her teenage years working out as a domestic servant in different homes. At fourteen, girls were allowed to leave school and work cleaning in the Home; then at sixteen they could work out for other people.

0259.01.04 Item – Grace with her Aunt Eliya  ca. 1935 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace worked in one home where her Aunt had also worked as a domestic and on her day off, she remembers helping her aunt clean silver.

0259.01.05 Item – Grace’s War Service  ca. 1940 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace worked on the domestic staff at Crane Hill Hospital during the war.

0259.01.06 Item – Grace Marries Joe Thomson  1941 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace met her future husband at a dance that the hospital staff put on where they invited Canadian soldiers. Joe was also English and had come to Canada with his father and sister in 1919.

0259.01.07 Item – Grace with Daughter  1944 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace’s daughter Sheila was born in 1942 and came to Canada with her mother in 1946.

0259.01.08 Item – War Brides at Croydon  1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Group photo of the group of war brides who came to Canada on the same ship with Grace Thomson. Grace and her daughter, Sheila, are standing at the far right.

0259.01.09 Item – Neighbors in St. Walburg  ca. 1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

First neighbors for Grace and Joe in Walburg, Saskatchewan.

0259.01.10 Item – Sawing Wood  ca. 1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace and Joe and Sheila Thomson learning to saw wood in St. Walburg, Saskatchewan.

0259.01.11 Item – Hanging Out the Laundry  ca. 1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace hanging out laundry in St. Walburg, Saskatchewan.

0259.01.12 Item – Baking Muffins  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace is shown in her kitchen getting ready to bake a pan of muffins.

0259.01.13 Item – Grace On Cleaning Day  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace is shown in the doorway on her cleaning day.

0259.01.14 Item – Grace as a Chimney Sweep  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace is shown on her porch

0259.01.15 Item – Grace Goes Shopping  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace is shown with purse and shopping cart ready to go shopping.

0259.01.16 Item – Grace Ready for Tea  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace is shown seated at her table with her teapot in front of her.

0259.01.17 Item – Foster Child Raymond  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Image shows foster child Raymond as a toddler, holding a doll.

0259.01.18 Item – Grace in Her Garden  n.d. 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Image shows Grace posing in her garden, surrounded by flowers.

0259.01.19 Item – Grace Showing Her Life Poster  2003 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace Thomson shows off the poster of pictures and memories of her life in England and in Canada.

0259.01.20 Item – Alberta War Brides Skit  2000 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Theatre was a big part of Grace Thomson’s retirement. Here she is in a skit during an Alberta War Brides Association Convention.

0259.01.21 Item – A Tribute to Vera Lynn  2004 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Vera Lynn was a popular singer during the war years. Here, Grace Thomson sits by a tribute to Vera Lynn at the Alberta War Brides Convention.

0259.01.22 Item – Grande Prairie War Brides  2000 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Vi and Arnold Dryer, Grace Thomson, and Grace’s daughter Sheila Lockrem.

0259.01.23 Item – Grande Prairie War Brides  2000 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace Thomson with sisters Violet Dryer and Winnie Kennedy, two other English war brides from Grande Prairie, at an Alberta War Brides Association Convention.

0259.01.24 Item – War Brides Tour  2000 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace Thomson went on a War Brides Tour of France and Britain. Here she is, singing with a group of war brides in Southampton, England.

0259.01.25 Item – Alberta War Brides Association Convention  2000 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace Thomson and Audrey Cook singing with fellow Londoner War Brides at a convention in Medicine Hat, October 23, 1987.

0259.01.26 Item – Victory over Europe Tour  1995 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

In 1995, Audrey Thomson went on a tour with the War Brides Association, called the Victory over Europe Tour.

0259.01.27 Item – Alberta War Brides Association Convention  1989 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

English war brides showing their stuff at the 19th Annual Reunion of War Brides.

0259.01.28 Item – Grace Thomson with Friends  1989 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Vi and Arnold Dryer, Grace Thomson, and Grace’s daughter Sheila Lockrem.

Series 0259.02: Vi Dryer

Date: 1943-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of an audio cassette recording of an interview with Violet Dryer in 2006; partial transcripts of 123 letters written by Arnold Dryer to Violet Remnant Dryer from 1943 to 1946, and copies of communications to Violet Remnant regarding her marriage to Arnold and subsequent immigration to Canada as a war bride. The copied documents include: “Notice to Passengers: Control of Exports” which details what she take out of Britain to Canada; “Dock to Destination”, a pamphlet telling war brides what to expect when they arrived in Canada and instructions for the train journey across Canada; some papers from the Canadian Wives’ Bureau Civilian Repatriation Service. There are also eight photographs of Vi, her war service and her wedding. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 1 cm of textual records

8 photographs

1 audio cassette

Note:

Violet Remnant was a 16 year old shop assistant in Wrecclesham, Surrey, not far from the Canadian Army Base in Aldershot, when she first met Arnold Dryer at a dance in the Village Hall. Arnold’s squadron was billeted nearby in the village of Rowledge. The relationship blossomed, and from wherever Arnold’s squadron moved to, his letters found their way back to Violet.

At 18, Vi joined the Air Force, working as a clerk in RAF records in Gloucestershire. When the war ended, they were afraid that Arnold would be drafted home, so with four days notice, they planned a wedding.

“We still needed clothing coupons to buy new clothing,” Vi remembered. “I bought a royal blue dress, and my mother used seven of her own coupons to buy Arnold some Oxford shoes. There was no way she was going to let him go up the aisle in army boots!”

After the wedding, Arnold was indeed sent back to Canada, and Vi waited for permission from the Canadian Wives Bureau to join him. She was discharged from the Air Force and put in time helping at the local post office. She had to be ready to go with only a couple of days’ notice.

In June she sailed on the Aquitania with another bride bound for Grande Prairie, Betty Eskdale. Her sister-in-law, Mrs. Robert Dryer sailed at the same time, but on a ship of wives with babies. Violet remembers that it was the first time she wore pants, and that the food was marvelous because they were not on rations on the ship. There was a lot of fruit, and they hadn’t seen fruit for a long time.

The war brides were processed through immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax. From there, they took a train across Canada. For five days, day and night, she endured the dirt, the heat and the constant rocking motion. They stopped in Quebec City on July 1, and by the 3rd had reached Edmonton. “The Red Cross nurse took us shopping. I paid $7.00 for a pair of shoes. She put us on a train for Grande Prairie.” The train trip seemed to go on forever.

It was 90 degrees on July 4th when Vi arrived in Grande Prairie, and she was wearing a wool suit. Arnold’s entire family was there to meet her—Arnold in a striped de-mobilization suit. “It was the first time I had seen him in civilian clothing, and he had bee stings on one ear.” They walked up Richmond Avenue and went into the Palace Café. “Banana Split 25c” said a sign on the wall.

The editor of the newspaper, J.B. Yule, was one person Vi met on her first day in Grande Prairie. The news of their arrival was proclaimed on the front page in the next issue of the paper: “Three War Brides Arrive Grande Prairie”.

Neighbours also welcomed the war brides. In August, they gathered for a bridal shower, something they didn’t do in England. Gifts included a cream and sugar set, dishes, pillow slips, towels, and best of all a box of home canning!

Although the young Mrs. Dryer was “homesick off and on” over the next year, she enjoyed being on the farm and the many good neighbours. Grande Prairie is still her home 60 years later.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.02.01 Item – Arnold & Vi Dryer Wedding  1944 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Arnold Dryer and Violet Remnant were married August 23, 1945. Violet’s royal blue dress and Arnold’s civilian shoes were purchased with ration coupons.

0259.02.02 Item – Dryer-Remnant Wedding  1944 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

The family group at Arnold and Violet Dryer’s wedding consisted of her sister Winnie, her mother and father, Mr. & Mrs. Remnant, and Vi’s uncle.

0259.02.03 Item – Dryer-Remnant Wedding  1944 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Arnold and Vi Dryer’s wedding in the village of Wrecclesham was attended by close family and neighbours from the village.

0259.02.04 Item – Vi Remnant With Her Regiment  1943 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Vi Remnant with her regiment.

0259.02.05 Item – Vi Remnant In Uniform  1943 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Vi with uniform including hat.

0259.02.06 Item – Portrait of Vi Remnant In Uniform  1943 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Studio portrait of Vi Remnant in uniform.

0259.02.07 Item – Portrait of Vi Remnant  1943 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Studio portrait of Vi Remnant out of uniform.

0259.02.08 Item – Group Standing on Steps  1943 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

A group of men and women assembled on steps.

0259.02.09 Item – Vi Dryer Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Vi Dryer recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.03: Margaret Weaver

Date: 1943-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of an audio cassette recording of an interview with Margaret Weaver regarding her experience as a war bride coming to Canada from England after World War II. There is also a photograph of Marg during her war service and a copy of the marriage certificate. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 photograph

1 sound recording

Note:

Margaret Stanton was born in St. Alban’s, England and joined the Field Army Nursing Yeomanry in 1938. She drove an ambulance and ration truck during the War and later was employed taking away gun emplacements and transporting prisoners of war. She met Art at a USO show put on by the American army and they were married in Aldershot on January 23, 1946. There son, Ken, was born that same year and after Art left for Canada, she and Ken boarded the Queen Mary with thousands of other brides and children for their trip to Canada. They lived near Cadogan, Alberta and later moved to Grande Prairie. She never went back to England.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.03.01 Item – Margaret Weaver  ca. 1943 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Images shows three women, one of whom is Margaret Weaver, in uniform.

0259.03.02 Item – Margaret Weaver Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Margaret Weaver recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.04: Wilhelmina Johnston

Date: 1943-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 3 photographs, biographical information, and interview notes.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

3 photographs

Note:

Wilhemina Beekmans was born in the Netherlands and was twelve years old when the Germans invaded. She also lived in a district first to be liberated in 1944 and in 1945 she met Clarence Johnston, a member of the Canadian contingency stationed there. Because Wilhelmina was under-age, Clarence volunteered to stay with the Allied Army another year and they were married in April, 1946. A week later, Clarence was on his way back to Canada and his new eighteen year-old wife would follow in October. They tried farming near Calais but eventually moved to Grande Prairie where Clarence eventually established Johnson’s Homes & Trusses.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.04.01 Item – Wedding of Wilhelmina and Clarence Johnston  1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Wilhelmina and Clarence Johnston pose for a wedding photo in 1946.

0259.04.02 Item – Clarence and Willy Johnston ca. 1960 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Clarence and Willy Johnston photographed in 1960.

0259.04.03 Item – Clarence and Wilhelmina Johnston With Children  1955 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Clarence and Wilhelmina with their young family of five children.

Series 0259.05: Aleyda Campbell

Date: 2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 5 pages of autobiographical notes, and a copy of a letter from the Captain, Senior Medical Officer of the Ship, the Aquitania and a copy of a newspaper item from the 1990s concerning the federal government’s honoring of the war brides. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

Note:

Aleyda Leenders was born in the Hague, Netherlands and was a teenager when war broke out. Her father was called up to the Dutch Army and in 1940 the Leeders family was ordered out of their house and her father was taken prisoner. The children with their mother lived in Belgium for 6 weeks and after they were allowed back into Holland, Aleyda completed high school and spent the rest of the war years working as a telephone operator. She met her husband, Colin, when her brother brought him home as one of the Canadian soldiers who had no place to live. They were married in November 1945. Colin was shipped back home in January, 1946, and Aleyda and their son, Kenneth, followed in January, 1947.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

Series 0259.06: Margaret Krzyczkowski

Date: 1943-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of copies of 4 photographs featured in a 2 page story of Margaret and Frank’s early married life. A biography based on the interview with Margaret is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

4 photographs

Note:

Margaret Akkerman was from the town of Winschoten, Holland, where she met Frank after the Second World War in 1945. They were married on January 10, 1946 and she left Rotterdam in July and arrived in Webster, Alberta, on September 4, 1946. The forest, cold long winters and farming were all new to her and Frank often had to work off the farm. They had three children, Frank, Irene and Yvonne. Frank died at the age of 62 but Margaret rented out the farm, learned to drive and remain there until 1996.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.06.01 Item – Krzyczkowski House in Webster  1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

A copy of a photograph which is contained in the biographical information of Margaret Krzyczkowski.

0259.06.02 Item – Margaret Krzyczkowski and Frank Jr.  1948 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Photograph shows Margaret propping up her first baby, Frank, for the photographer.

0259.06.03 Item – Margaret Krzyczkowski and Frank Jr.  1948 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Margaret with Frank Jr. and her friend Tina Kozy, another Dutch war bride who lived in Spirit River.

0259.06.04 Item – Margaret and Frank Krzyczkowski Wedding  1948 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Wedding photograph of Margaret and Frank Krzyczkowski, taken in 1948.

Series 0259.07: Gretha Gerow

Date: 1941-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 3 photographs, and copies of documents related to the war years and her arrangements for immigration to Canada and one sound recording of an interview with her. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

3 photographs

1 sound recording

Note:

Gretha Snoek was born in Leerdam, Holland. During the War she taught in an elementary school. By 1944, the schools had to operate in shifts as the Germans took over many buildings for their quarters and by 1945 schools were shut down. She then worked as a social worker with refugees and evacuees from bombed and flooded areas. Germans were billeted in their home. They were lucky as they operated a store and kept a secret storage room with supplies they could barter for food. She met her husband at a soccer match – a local team against the Canadians who had come in the spring of 1945. She and Bob Gerow were married Jan 8, 1946, and she came to Canada with other brides on the Aquitania taking a five day trip across the ocean, then a long train trip to arrive in Sexsmith. First they lived in a small shack near Bob’s parents. It was hard to adjust to no water, electricity and poor roads but she made friends with a neighbor, Emily Student, who was also from Holland. They had two children and when they were grown, they fostered nine others.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.07.01 Item – The Wedding of Gretha and Bob Gerow  1946 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Wedding picture of Gretha Snoek and Bob Gerow.

0259.07.02 Item – Gretha Snoek With Her Students  1940 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Picture of Gretha Snoek with a group of her students

0259.07.03 Item – Gretha Snoek With Her Students  1941 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Picture of Gretha Snoek with a group of her students

0259.07.04 Item – Gretha Gerow Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Gretha Gerow recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.08: Jean Conrad Drysdale

Date: 1935-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 14 photographs, a booklet, “ Memories of Linton”, and a biography summary based on the taped interview.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

14 photographs

1 audio cassette

Note:

Jean Farmer was born, one of four children, in the farming district of Scotland, north of Edinburgh. During the War, she worked as a cook for the Air Force, including two years with a Canadian Squadron at Lindon. There she met Jack Conrad. They were married June 9, 1945, and ten days later, Jack was shipped home. Jean followed in March, 1946, aboard the Aquitania with other war brides. She was sick for the first two days but then enjoyed the great food. At Pier 21, she remembers the Red Cross ladies taking them shopping – her first experience of an Eaton’s store. Jack met her in Edmonton and they came to Clairmont by train. When they got to Jack’s parents, his mother had saved her largest turkey for the occasion and had invited a Scottish family as well. They raised four children on their farm: Collin, Calvin, Ann and Holly.

Note:

Jean’s son Calvin requested a name change, however, Jean signed the donor agreement as Jean Drysdale and in her audio interview, she is identified as “Jean Drysdale, formerly Conrad.”. J. Sallis Apr 2018.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.08.01 Item – Jack Conrad  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jack Conrad with horses and dog in front of the family home.

0259.08.02 Item – Jack Conrad  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jack Conrad standing on the front porch of the family home.

0259.08.03 Item – Jack Conrad and Baby  ca. 1947 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jack Conrad holding a baby while sitting on a horse drawn wagon.

0259.08.04 Item – Christmas Dinner  1954 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Two of the people in this photograph were originally identified by a family member as Jack and Jean Conrad. Information received later indicates that the individuals in this photograph may in fact be Betty, Florence, and Jack Conrad. See database for identification notes.

0259.08.05 Item – Jean’s Son and Dog  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

One of Jean Drysdale’s children sitting in a sleigh beside the family dog.

0259.08.06 Item – Christmas  ca. 1955 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jack and Jean Conrad, with children Collin, Calvin and Ann, in front of the Christmas tree.

Note:

The original description used the surname “Drysdale.” It has been corrected to read “Conrad” thanks to information provided by Jean and Jack’s son, Calvin Conrad. J. Sallis Apr 2018.

0259.08.07 Item – Jack Conrad  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jack Conrad in uniform.

0259.08.08 Item – Jean Drysdale  ca. 1940 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jean Conrad in uniform. Jean spent two years as a cook for the Air Force in England and two years with Canadian squadron 426 in Linton, Yorkshire, England.

Note:

The original caption read, “Jean Drysdale.” The correction was provided by Calvin Conrad, son of Jack and Jean Conrad, 19 Mar 2018. J. Sallis

0259.08.09 Item – Jack Conrad and Baby  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jack Conrad holding a baby while sitting on a horse drawn wagon.

0259.08.10 Item – Jean Conrad and Children  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jean Conrad with three children.

0259.08.11 Item – Drysdale Home  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Swans on the front porch of the Conrad home.

Note:

The original caption read, “Drysdale Home.” The correct information was provided 19 Mar 2018 by Calvin Conrad, son of Jean and Jack Conrad. J. Sallis

0259.08.12 Item – Washing Machine  ca. 1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jean Drysdale operating a wringer washing machine on the porch of her home with one of her children nearby.

0259.08.13 Item – Jean’s Son on a Tractor  ca. 1950 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

One of Jean’s sons sits on a tractor.

0259.08.14 Item – Jean Drysdale Wedding  1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Jean Farmer and Jack Conrad photographed at the United Free Church of Scotland on their wedding day, June 9, 1945.

Note:

The original caption read, “Jean Drysdale, Wedding.” The correct information was provided 19 Mar 2018 by Calvin Conrad, son of Jean and Jack Conrad, and by referencing the audio interview. J. Sallis

0259.08.15 Item – Jean Conrad Drysdale Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Jean Drysdale recording her experiences as a war bride.

Note:

The original title read “Jean Drysdale Audio.” The surname Conrad was added as a correction thanks to information provided by Jean and Jack’s son Calvin Conrad. J. Sallis April 2018.

Series 0259.09: Margaret LeCerf

Date: 2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 5 pages of text containing Margaret’s story as a War Bride, coming from England to Canada after World War II.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

Note:

Margaret Le Cerf was born in Canterbury, Kent, England on February 3, 1927. When war started, the entire family was dedicated to do what they could for the war effort. As soon as she was old enough, Margaret joined the ATS. She met her husband, Henri, the day her sister was married in 1945 and they were married on February 8, 1946. Henri left for Canada immediately and she followed in August, 1946. Her first home was in a lumber camp in Nordegg and then later a farm in Rocky Mountain House. When her husband got transferred to High Level with the forestry she was ready for life in a trailer and eventually electricity and running water. In 1972 they moved to Grande Prairie.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

Series 0259.10: Marjorie Pettit

Date: 1940-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of an audio cassette recording of an interview with Marjorie Poirier Pettit regarding her experiences coming to Canada from England as a war bride after World War II. Also included are a of her wedding photograph and a biography based on the interview.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 photograph

1 sound recording

Note:

Marjorie Presswell grew up in Haselmere, Surrey County, England and she worked as a cook for a surgeon during the WW II. There were army bases all around her home so she met her future husband, Art Poirier in her home town. They were married April 2, 1942. Art then was stationed in Seafort where Marj lived when Art went to fight in France. Art was taken prisoner and held by the Germans for four years. At war’s end he was shipped back to Aldershot and then home. Marj came to Canada aboard the Letitia and eventually arrived in Sexsmith. It was a tough adjustment for her, hauling water from a well, ploughing with horses, taking lunches to the field. They had three children.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.10.01 Item – Marj Pettit Wedding  1942 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Marj Pettit and Art Poirier photographed on their wedding day, April 2, 1942, in Fernhurst, England.

0259.10.02 Item – Marj Pettit Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Marj Pettit recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.11: Audrey Cook

Date: 1940-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 1 photograph and biographical notes about Audrey Cook.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 photograph

Note:

Audrey was born in 1927 in London. She had already lost her father when WW II broke out and she was evacuated to Reading and billeted with another family. Entire schools were crowded into other schools. At fourteen she worked in a book bindery and after her mother died when she was 17, she worked in a factory. She met her future husband, John Cook, at Trafalgar Square and they kept dating during the war years. They were married on Dec 23, 1945. John returned to Canada February 4, 1946, and Audrey came on the Queen Mary in August, 1946. She came to Medicine Hat where they had three of their children before moving to Eureka River to farm. It was very isolated farm and distances were great. There was no running water or electricity, and she never expected that kind of a life. After seven years, she had to travel to Grande Prairie with her son for medical attention. After experiencing running water, electricity, and heat, she was not going back to the bush. She still lives in Grande Prairie in 2006.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.11.01 Item – Audrey Cook Wedding  1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Audrey and John Cook photographed on their wedding day, December 23, 1945.

Series 0259.12: Betty Eskdale

Date: 2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

This series consists of biographical notes and an audio recording of an interview with Betty Eskdale.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 audio cassette

Note:

Betty Fleming grew up in Portsmouth, England, a naval port and when war broke out the children were evacuated to the country right away. Betty and her sister went to New Forest but when the bombing hadn’t started by Christmas, they went home. Then when the bombing did start the following April, all three children were evacuated. Betty’s father was killed in 1941 and she went to work at fourteen, working under a nanny. The Anglican Church would put on social evenings and that is where she met Tom Eskdale in 1944. Tom was soon posted to Italy and Holland and they corresponded for a year. They were marred in October, 1945 and Tom went home to Canada. Betty’s mother had also remarried a Canadian soldier and they both came to Canada as war brides. Betty came on the Aquitania, then the train to Edmonton and to Grande Prairie. Tom farmed with his father and had built a 9×12 cabin for them to live in. In winter he went to work in the lumber camps. With two children ready to start school and getting hailed out, the farm was not able to support them, so they moved into town. Betty still lives in Grande Prairie.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.12.01 Item – Betty Eskdale Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Betty Eskdale recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.13: Grace Nellis

Date: 1946-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 1 photograph and copies of documents related to the war years and her arrangements for immigration to Canada and one sound recording of an interview with her. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 photograph

1 sound recording

Note:

Grace Taylor grew up in Surrey County, England. She was nineteen when the war started so went to work in a factory doing precision work for war service. She met Harry at a dance and they were married August 28, 1945, and went golfing after the wedding. She came over to Canada on the Aquitania and Harry met her in Edmonton for her introduction to muddy roads home to Bezanson. The adjustments coming from a small, private family to entering a boisterous clan and active community were huge and she thought she would never get used to it but she did. They had three boys and were married 60 years before Harry died.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.13.01 Item – Grace Nellis Wedding  1945 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Grace and Harry Nellis photographed on their wedding day, August 28, 1945.

0259.13.02 Item – Grace Nellis Audio
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Grace Nellis recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.14: Hilary Lightfoot

Date: 1944-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of two photographs and 1 audio cassette recording an interview with Hilary Lightfoot and Daphne Derocher at Wild Rose Manor. Interviewer is Mary Nutting and the subject is Hilary’s experience as an English War Bride coming to Canada after World War II. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

2 photographs

1 sound recording

Note:

Hilary grew up in Birmingham, England. She well remembers the air raids during the war, blacking out the windows at night, rationing of food and clothing. Her war work was in a factory drilling holes in metal, then another was spot welding fins for bombs. She spent off duty hours at the South Coast where many soldiers were stationed. She met Jim Lightfoot at a dance. He was with the Canadian Scottish Regiments and had been wounded and sent back to Aldershot. They were married in December, 1944. Hilary left England in 1945 on the Britannic, along with about 1000 other brides and children. Those, like Hilary, who were pregnant were housed together in small cabins. Many were seasick, partly due to eating too much of the good food provided. The entire trip to Grande Prairie took three weeks. Being from the second largest city in England, the adjustments to Grande Prairie and in 1946 to a farm in Blueberry Mountain were overwhelming at times. They farmed until 1969 when she and Jim separated. As she now had two teenagers, she moved to Spirit River and got a job in the hospital there. In 2004, she moved into Wild Rose Manor.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.14.01 Item – Hilary Lightfoot, Wedding  1944 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Hilary and Jim Lightfoot photographed with their wedding party in December of 1944.

0259.14.02 Item – Hilary Lightfoot Wedding  1944 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Hilary and Jim Lightfoot photographed on their wedding day in December of 1944.

0259.14.03 Item – Hilary Lightfoot
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Hilary Lightfoot recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.15: Daphne Derocher

Date: 2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 1 audio cassette recording an interview with Daphne Derocher and Hilary Lightfoot at Wild Rose Manor, a Seniors Residence in Grande Prairie. Interviewer is Mary Nutting and the subject is Daphne’s experience as an English War Bride coming to Canada after World War II. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 sound recording

Note:

Daphne was born in Dorking, Surrey, England. She was fifteen when the war started and working in a department store, modelling dresses. Her war work became making microphone switches in a secret factory. She met her future husband as she was cycling around with a friend. Edmond and Daphne, now 21, had a small wedding and reception in her parents’ garden. She came to Canada on the Letitia along with other war brides, her 20 month old baby and expecting her second. After boarding the train in Halifax, she was delayed in Saskatoon when her daughter developed pneumonia. When she got off the train in Grande Prairie and Edmond met her, she asked him where Grande Prairie was. She had imagined a much bigger town. They tried to get a VLA home but were unsuccessful, so bought a little place. Later they moved to Sexsmith.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.15.01 Item – Daphne Derocher
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Daphne Derocher recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.16: Mary Tangen

Date: 2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 1 audio cassette recording an interview with Mary Tangen at Wild Rose Manor, a Seniors Residence in Grande Prairie. Interviewer is Mary Nutting and the subject is Mary’s experience as an English War Bride coming to Canada after World War II. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 sound recording

Note:

Mary Harrison was born in North Shields, near Newcastle, England. She was 13 when the War started. She was originally evacuated with others but they were moved back home when they got too homesick. After high school she worked in the Air Raid Precautions group taking messages from one post to another on her bicycle. She was on holiday in Edinburgh with her parents when she met Bjarne Tangen waiting in a lineup for a train. They were married several years later in 1945 and he returned to Canada the same year. She came on the Aquitania in 1946. The vastness of the country amazed her. Bjarne met her in Edmonton and they traveled by train to Hythe. She had never been on a farm in her life but she grew to love it. In 1961, they moved to Grande Prairie. They raised two girls and one boy.

Access points:

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.16.01 Item – Mary Tangen
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Mary Tangen recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.17: Cathy Golding

Date: 1939-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of 3 photographs and 1 audio cassette recording an interview with Cathy Golding. Interviewer is Mary Nutting and the subject is Cathy’s experience as an English War Bride coming to Canada after World War II. A biography based on the interview is included.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

3 photographs

1 sound recording

Note:

Cathy Simons was a Conductress for the DABO Buss Company in Groningen, Holland when World War II broke out. By 1940, she had married Klaas Bok. Her husband died from complications of juvenile diabetes in1943 and with a young son to care for she returned to work for DABO. After the liberation, Selwyn Golding’s Canadian company was camped on the outskirts of Groningen and she met him one evening on her way to locate her brother. Just as Selwyn was to finish his tour of duty, he received word his mother was ill and he returned to Canada. To get approval for Cathy and her son, Lucas, to come to Canada meant she had to prove she was not a German collaborator. Post-war travel demanded she travel via Sweden to New York and then by train to Saskatoon where family met her. She and Selwyn were married in Prince Albert and arrived in the Peace country in 1947 when Selwyn took a job as grader operator on the Alaska Highway. They moved to Grande Prairie in 1949.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

•                Sound recording (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.17.01 Item – Cathy Golding  ca. 1939 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

When World War II began in 1939, Catherina Simons was a conductress for the DABO Bus Company in Groningen, Holland.

0259.17.02 Item – Cathy Golding Wedding  1947 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Cathy and Selwyn Golding photographed on their wedding day in front of the Prince Albert Anglican Church in 1947.

0259.17.03 Item – Cathy Golding & Selwyn Golding Wedding Portrait  1947 1 photograph : b&w ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Cathy, her son Lucas and Selwyn Golding photographed on their wedding day in front of the Prince Albert Anglican Church in 1947.

0259.17.04 Item – Cathy Golding
Interviewed by Mary Nutting
 
2006 1 audio cassette
Scope and content:

One cassette recording of an interview with Cathy Golding recording her experiences as a war bride.

Series 0259.18: Sheila Peterson

Date: 1925-2006 (date of creation)

Scope and content:

The series consists of an autobiography “Memoirs of Sheila Peterson” as told to Sheila’s daughter, a copy of wedding photograph, and copies of a birth certificate and a wedding certificate.

Physical description: 0.5 cm of textual records

1 photograph

Note:

Sheila Figgins was born May 17, 1925, and grew up in Lymington on the south coast of England. Her father worked for a wealthy family as a chauffeur and her mother often cooked for them as well. Finishing school at fourteen, Sheila went to work for a neighbor, Mrs. Lacey, whose husband was in the Navy and got to travel coastal areas with the family, looking after their little girl. When she turned sixteen, she was required to work for the war effort and returned to Lymington and started work in a factory. By this time there were many troops stationed nearby and on Christmas Eve, 1943, on a dare, she kissed the Canadian soldier with mistletoe dangling overhead, and the romance with Earl Peterson began. They were married in January, 1945. Earl then went back to Holland until the end of the war and then to repatriation camp. Sheila came to Canada aboard the SS Letitia in May, 1946, three months after Earl. The food aboard the ship was wonderful after all the years of rations. Many women and children were sea sick and several babies were born on the ship. The train trip was long but army personnel helped prepare them for Canadian life. In Winnipeg they were allowed off the train for a few hours and Sheila went shopping for a cotton dress and sandals. In Edmonton the Red Cross found accommodation for the women to stay overnight until they could get another train for their final destination. Sheila arrived in Grande Prairie where she and Earl stayed for a few days before going to Debolt to stay with Earl’s mother until they got their own home. Her mother-in-law was wonderful, teaching her how to care for fires, use coal-oil lamps and bake bread. Earl worked at Bickell’s mill. They took a homestead northwest of Debolt, living in Debolt for the winter and moving to a small house at the homestead in the spring. Their first daughter, Lois, was born in February, 1947; their second, Dawn, in November, 1948; and then Michael was born in 1953. Sheila picked roots and rocks, planted a garden and looked after three children there. They had moved to the old Sheltreau place by the time Julia was born in July, 1956. Lois and Dawn went to Edson Trail School and the family had an active social life, visits and card playing, going to movies and and dances in the Debolt Hall. Earl began working on the oil rigs to supplement farming and in 1958 their last child, Nicholas, was born. When he started school, Sheila started working at the Debolt Hotel. After a few years of hail and drought, they sold the farm and bought a fifteen acre plot east of Debolt. They built a nice home in 1964. Earl suffered his first heart attack in 1965, and after open heart surgery, suffered another attack which ended his working career. They sold the acreage and moved into a mobile home in Debolt where Sheila could walk to work. Earl’s health gradually deteriorated and he died in 1987. Sheila still lives in Debolt. She has made several trips back to England, Holland and France.

Access points:

•                Graphic material – photograph (documentary form)

•                Textual record (documentary form)

File / item list
Reference code Title Dates Physical description
0259.18.01 Item – Sheila Peterson Wedding  1945 1 photograph : colour ; 4 x 6 in.
Scope and content:

Sheila Figgins married Earl Peterson January 12, 1945.