Research References


War Brides of World War II

As the Second World War drew to a close in Europe, some forty eight thousand women and twenty two thousand infants from Britain and the continent emigrated to Canada. The arrival of these women and children in Canada marked the single largest wave of immigration since the Great Depression They had broken ties with home and family to begin a new life in Canada. They were the war time dependants and the government assumed responsibility for bringing them to Canada. Their husbands had served overseas as part of the Canadian war effort and had met their wives at camp dances, in hospitals, and in small towns. The emotion-charged farewells and the long Atlantic voyage to Canada were the beginning of a great adventure and many of the women remember with startling clarity those first days and years in Canada.

Most of the women entered Canada at the famous Pier 21 at Halifax. For the British women, records were not required since they were British Subjects and listings of the women who came are not available. In several provinces the women themselves organized War Bride Associations in order to gather and share information, emotions, and experience.

In Newfoundland there were several "Roses and Thistles" clubs formed by war brides.

Suggested subject headings to use when researching in Libraries

Canada -- Emigration and immigration -- History -- 20th century
Marriages, international
War Brides -- Canada
War Brides -- Great Britain -- History -- 20th Century
War Brides -- (name of geographical region i.e. Newfoundland)
Wives -- Canada
Wives -- Canada -- History -- 20th century
Women Immigrants -- (Canada) -- History -- 20th century
World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives, British
World War, 1939-1945 -- Women

Suggested print resources

Barrett, Barbara B. et al. (editors). We Came From Over the Sea: British War Brides in Newfoundland. Portugal Cove, Nfld.: Published by British War Brides Association of Newfoundland and Labrador in co-operation with ES Press, 1996.

Butler, Cheryl A. Janey Canuck: Experiences of World War II British War Brides Who Emigrated to Canada. M.A. Thesis, University of Toronto, 1995. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1996.

Granfield, Linda. Brass Buttons and Silver Horseshoes : Stories from Canada's War Brides. Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 2002.

Hibbert, Joyce. The War Brides, Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1979.

Jarratt, Melyndahas just published the book "War Brides: The stories of the women who left everything behind to follow the men they loved." The stories of two Newfoundland War Bride are included in this book.

Ladouceur, Barbara and Phyllis Spence (editors). Blackouts to Bright Lights: Canadian War Bride Stories. Vancouver, B.C.: Ronsdale Press, 1995.

O'Hara, Peggy. From Romance to Reality: Stories of Canadian War Brides. Cobalt, ON.: Highway Book Shop, 1985.

Rains, Olga. We Became Canadians. Illustrations by Lloyd Rains. Hyde Park, ON: Overnight Copy Service, 1984.

Shewchuk, Helen (Hall) (editor). If Kisses Were Roses: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to War Brides: Canada Remembers, [Naughton, On]: The Author, 1996.

The War Brides: From Romance to Reality / Ottawa: Kiss the Bride Productions, 2001. Video A one-hour documentary featuring interviews with more than one dozen war brides. (Not based on the book by the same title.)

Wicks, Ben. Promise You'll Take Care of My Daughter: The Remarkable War Brides of World War II. Toronto: Stoddart, 1993.

Suggested online resources

Stories of Pier 21 -- War Brides.
Stories of individual war brides who entered Canada at Pier 21

Canadian War Brides
"The Authoritative web site on the history of Canadian War Brides of World War II"

War Brides in Canada
A site established by Eswyn Lyster who is writing a detailed history of Canadian War Brides.

Project Roots Web site
Established by Olga Rains, Haarlem, The Netherlands


Prepared by CIC Library Services
February 2003



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