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War Brides Fonds Established at NB Provincial Archives to Mark 65th Anniversary of Arrival of First War Bride Ships
(Fredericton, NB - February 8, 2011) - Sixty five years ago on February 9, 1946, the first official sailing of Canadian War Brides took place when the Mauretania II arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax with 900 servicemens' dependents on board. By the time the government organized transport was over in February 1948, nearly 44,000 War Brides and their 21,000 children would call Canada "home".
To mark this important anniversary and to recognize the contributions of War Brides to Canadian society, historian Melynda Jarratt of Fredericton, New Brunswick has established a Canadian War Brides Fonds at the New Brunswick Provincial Archives in Fredericton.
"New Brunswick has always been in the lead when it comes to documenting the War Bride experience," says Jarratt, an author who has written extensively about the War Brides for nearly 25 years.
Jarratt points out that the Year of the War Bride began in New Brunswick, when former MLA TJ Burke - whose grandmother Jean Paul was a British War Bride - tabled a motion in the NB Legislature to officially recognize the year.
"The Year of the War Bride was an idea that was spearheaded in New Brunswick and soon gathered momentum across Canada" says Jarratt, "So it makes sense that New Brunswick take the lead again and become the main repository of Canadian War Bride material for the entire country."
Jarratt has already deposited a number of rare, archival documents and photographs from her extensive collection at the Archives. These include those of the late Mrs. Dorrit (Hacker) Nash, an Austrian born Jew who was 15 years old in 1939 when she fled the Nazis in the infamous Kindertransport. Dorrit ended up working as a Rosie the Riveter in England during the war and in 1945, she married a Canadian serviceman, Hedley Nash. Hedley was the descendent of Black Loyalists and Malecite Indians. When Dorrit came to New Brunswick as a War Bride in November, 1946, she and Hedley were one of the first mixed race couples in Fredericton. They raised three daughters, Diane, Denise and Deby.
Scottish War Bride Isobel "Zoe" (Blair) Boone, the former President of the New Brunswick War Brides Association, also donated some of her documents to the Archives.
Zoe's fiancé Marshall was taken Prisoner-of-War in July 1943 and there was no time to get married when he was repatriated to Canada soon after liberation in May 1945. Tired of waiting, she flew to Canada in December 1946 and was married in Perth, NB two months later. Zoe is one of only 500 women who made the trip by air instead of ship. She has numerous archival documents, rare photographs, letters and diaries that she intends to donate to the Canadian War Bride Fond at the NB Provincial Archives.
"We War Brides are getting old now and if we don't make these decisions now about the things we kept from the war they may be lost forever," she said.
Jarratt intends to deposit her entire collection of War Bride material at the Archives over the course of the next few months and she encourages the many hundreds of War Brides who remain in the province, - and the families of those who have passed away - to help build this unique "Made in New Brunswick" fond.
In April, Jarratt is expecting the entire archival collection of Vancouver Island based War Bride and author, Eswyn Lyster, who agreed with the idea of establishing a central War Bride archive in New Brunswick.
Lyster interviewed over 6000 Canadian War Brides over a period of ten years while writing "Most Excellent Citizens", which was published posthumously last year. But before Lyster passed away, she put in writing her intention to send all of her research material to Jarratt in Fredericton with the provision that the entire collection be donated to the New Brunswick Provincial Archives for the Canadian War Brides Fond.
Jarratt said it is fitting that the announcement of the War Brides fond is made on the 65th anniversary of the arrival of the Mauretania at Halifax: "Eswyn Lyster was one of those brave, courageous War Brides who made the first trip on the Mauretania in February, 1946. Between the two of us, and hopefully many others, New Brunswick’s Provincial Archives will have one of the most comprehensive collections of Canadian War Bride material in the entire country."