The other day I was reading a vintage magazine I had been gifted and there was a very interesting article about “What life was like for young war brides”. It was really fascinating to read the interviews and hear them talking about knowing that while life was so uncertain at that time, they knew that they were in love and would do anything to just marry their soldier and worry about the rest later.

Then later while browsing the internet to read a bit more on this subject I stumbled upon a very interesting site called “Canadian War Brides” and as I was reading the stories, looking thru pictures I thought that this was a great idea for a blog post, that I think you would all enjoy.

PLUS I seriously have no brain power this week to finish working on the post I have had in drafts for a week now, since I have gotten my cold from the depths of hell back again and can barely function as human being. Well good thing it’s happening now and not in 3 weeks when I’m in Vegas for Viva (I hope!).

Here are some of the wonderful goodies…..

War Bride:

The term “war bride” refers to the estimated 48,000 young women who met and married Canadian servicemen during the Second World War. These war brides were mostly from Britain, but a few thousand were also from other areas of Europe: the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy and Germany (Source).

Nearly 48,000 Canadian servicemen who married overseas during World War II. Between 1942 and 1947, the government brought 47 783 “war brides” and their 21 950 children to Canada. Relatively few came before the war’s end (Source).

Meet Annie Barnes Anderson Coyle and George Alfred Brown who were married on February 10, 1945 at South Leith Parish Church, in Scotland. George was from Earlton, Ontario and Annie from Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. Annie was in the Womens Land Army during the Second World War and George was a tank gunner with the Canadian Grenadier Guards.

Annie Barnes Anderson Coyle and George Alfred Brown.
Source: Canadian War Bride

Wedding Dresses:

In many photos (like the one above) you will see that the bride is not wearing a wedding dress as clothes rationing and shortages of materials made this very difficult (as well as shortage on time in many bride and grooms cases). Many times you will see her in a best suit or in her service uniform.

I even read about the ultimate rationing….a wedding dress (pictured below) that was worn by 15 brides in Britain. Isn’t it stunning?!

Fashion-on-the-Ration-1940s wedding gown
Source: Express

Here is CSM Wm. Lyster and Wren Coral Eswyn Ellinor on August 21st 1943. St. Richard’s Church, Aldwick, Sussex. So young and so in love.

1940s Canadian War Bride

Right before getting married, William sent a Telegraph to Canada requesting funds from his savings. I think this is really cool piece of history.

1940s telegram about getting married

This wedding below looks to be several weddings, but I believe the others ladies are bridesmaids, hence the shorter veils. The middle couple is War Bride Rose Boulay and her husband Horace Boulay of Belledune, New Brunswick.

1940s Canadian War Bride wedding
Source: Canadian War Brides-FB Page

Nothing thrills me more than seeing vintage images in colour like the wedding of war bride Cathie Elliot to her very handsome Canadian Solider-Glen. They were married on Christmas Eve, 1940, Aberdeen, Scotland. As you can see she is not wearing a traditional white dress.

The paper Horseshoe. In many photos I saw of Canadians and non Canadians the women were carrying a paper horseshoe. What exactly for? For good luck! What a fun idea.

1940s Canadian Bride image
Source: Canadian War Brides-FB Page

Now for the wedding of all weddings…The Marriage of English War Bride Olive Cochrane to Saskatchewan Native Lloyd Cochrane. The Bouquets in all these photos are just stunning and must weigh a ton.

1940s Canadian War Bride
Source: Canadian War Brides-FB Page

Coming to Canada

After the wedding the brides eventually had to make the trip to Canada.

Here is an image of War Brides with their Children arriving in Halifax-Pier 21. Upon their arrival they were supplied with a cookbook and then sent on their way.

War brides and their children arriving in Halifax from overseas.
Source: Public Archives of NS

I have a feeling that making this trip to an unknown country to a family you don’t know and maybe a husband you barely remember must bring these women together in a way that nobody thought possible.

1940s Canadian War Brides Coming Home
Source: Canadian Army

Canadian war brides on board the aircraft carrier Reaper as it enters the Sydney Harbour, NS. On a fashion side, I love the hair and the peep toe shoes.

Canadian War Brides 1940s
Source: CBC Radio


For some more reading please check out:

Liz 🙂


11 comments on “Vintage Images of 1940s Canadian War Brides”

  1. Oh this is lovely, such beautiful pictures. My great aunt was a war bride. She married an American and moved from a tiny country town in the south of England to Florida. It was a big culture shock.
    The horseshoe is indeed for good luck and is still given today at weddings in the UK along with a lucky sixpence. Both are believed to bring the couple lots of luck and happiness during their marriage.

    • Oh my, going from England to Florida would be a culture shock! It’s very cool that you have that piece of history to tell.

      I love that the horseshoe is still giving at wedding and the sixpence, how fun!

  2. Really wonderful, culturally poignant post, dear Liz. I’ve always been fascinated with this topic and way that the influx of British women no doubt shades Canadian society in certain ways following the war years. I had the pleasure of knowing several such ladies when I was a young girl (I did a lot of volunteer work with seniors and also lived for a few years on a street inhabited mostly by elderly folks) and each one said (and I believed them) that though they certainly experienced homesickness and culture shock, they loved living in Canada and never regretted leaving home (luckily they all seemed to have happy marriages, which no doubt aided in those positive views on their country).

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I truly adored it!

    ♥ Jessica

    • oh that is so wonderful that you got to hear many of their stories first hand. I too have been very interested in this topic for a long time as well and this blog post really cannot do justice to all that this topic encompasses but if it can at least shed the light at little bit about their stories, then my job is done.

      Thanks for dropping by Jessica 🙂

  3. Lovely photos and stories. It must have been such a strange and crazy time for all the young people, and finding love in all the chaos is a beautiful thing.

    I also love photos of brides in regular dress too. We get so caught up about wedding dresses these days (I did it too!) but I find something so charming in images that show how unnecessary the frills and trimmings are.

    • I so agree! It’s about the love, not about the dress. Dress is only for one day the love is for forever (hopefully) 🙂

  4. I collect vintage wedding photos so I am always very pleased to see more. That coloured one is lovely! I just read a book called The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes which is the story of four very different Australian women who are being transported to England just after the war as they married British servicemen. It is fiction but obviously well researched and really interesting. My mum carried a horseshoe at her wedding in the 1970’s.

    • Oh I need to pick that book up, it sounds really good. Thank you for sharing that information.

      I have been hearing that the Horseshoe is still something seen today in the UK. 100% not a Canadian thing, that is for sure lol. Very cool that your mom had one.

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