From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – On the weekend it was my privilege to help out with a War Bride Tea to honour the 48,000 war brides, some with children, who immigrated to Canada at once after World War II. There were 13 war brides at the tea and they shared their experiences of wartime in England – dodging bombs, living on rations and seeing families torn apart.
But the war brides also talked of the adventure and fun that young people at dances – dances at which most of them met their Canadian husbands. They fell in love and soon found themselves moving to a country more vast, remote and underdeveloped than they could have dreamed. There were stories of looking for the flush chain in Canadian outhouses, not realizing that the flour was not self-rising, asking for lace at a store and being told, “We do not sell lice in Canada” and my favourite – being invited to a shower and wondering whether soap and a towel were needed. These brides had the love of their husbands (most times) and their pluck to count on as they carved their place in often tight-knit communities.
Pivotal in their stories, for me, was how they were accepted into the communities that they joined. There was some disdain for “stolen potential husbands” along with strange sayings, different religions and unfamiliar accents. Over and over I heard that what truly made the difference coming into the new communities was the family in-law – if they were ferocious in their acceptance, love and kindness, the community soon followed suit. I loved these stories, and I truly think that this mass injection of young, female adventurers helped form a stronger and braver Canada.
Here are our marching orders from a small but mighty group of nonagenarians – “Be ferocious in our acceptance, love and kindness” and we will soon infect the communities around us in all we do through our work and beyond. Maybe we should stitch that on a “lice pillow.”