Most Excellent Citizens
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Most Excellent Citizens
Canada’s War Brides of World War II
Published:
4/30/2010
Format:
Perfect Bound Softcover
Pages:
276
Size:
7x10
ISBN:
978-1-42690-250-5
Print Type:
B/W
Thousands of Canadian war brides shared their stories, glad and tragic, with WREN, writer, weaver and war bride Eswyn Lyster. She gathers their intimate experiences and the currents of history with the thread of her own life.

Canada’s war brides were service women, defense workers, loggers and spies. War’s intensity made brief romances, hasty weddings and long separations. Upon victory, the men went home. Young women, often with infants, waited; some in concentration camps.

OPERATION DADDY transported 48,000 war brides and their 21,000 children, some on dysentery riddled former troop ships. Babies died. Transcontinental train trips united lovers and in-laws. Lives were lived in cities, villages, farms, reservations and in Canada’s wilderness. Some faltered. Most stayed and flourished, with over a million descendants. Then their Canadian citizenship evaporated. Eswyn Lyster describes the campaign for restoration.

Canada’s war brides and their generations brought hybrid vigour and cosmopolitan experience to Canada. Exploits ranging from shopkeeper to homemaker, ballerina, vice-regal consort and rockstar are told.

MOST EXCELLENT CITIZENS reaches around the world and behind enemy lines to recount the whole war bride experience.

A story of love, danger, assimilation and lives well-lived, MOST EXCELLENT CITIZENS is ground breaking scholarship; carefully researched and fully indexed. Shared experiences for war brides to cherish and a reference for anyone with a war bride in their family.

World War II gave the world’s gene-pool a mighty stir. – author Nineteen-forty was a very bad year, all the boys I had ever known had been killed and I wondered if there would be anyone left to marry when it all ended. – P. Anne (Bourke) Risley England was chock-a-block with young men from other countries. … we proceeded to have the most marvelous time, despite the continuation of air raids … it was all so very chaste. In the light of today’s morals, quite unbelievable. – Shiela Anketel-Jones Future war brides in the services found the experience of having to mix with all kinds of people a good preparation for their journey to Canada. It was often the girls who had never left home who were immediately and so badly affected by homesickness. – author The Landlady invited my friend and I to tea to meet two of these fellows, because ‘she didn’t know what to do with them’ – as if they were visitors from Mars! We arrived, rather reluctantly, at 4 p.m. My first meeting with my future husband was to find him coming down the stairs with his trousers over his arm. Not exactly a romantic beginning! – Margaret Joan (Watts) Small Our boys were warning our mothers to keep their daughters locked up. ‘You can’t trust the Canadians, you know.’ When some of the advanced party popped into the local dance hall we girls decided they looked pretty harmless. – Marion “Wendy” (Oliffe) Kirkpatrick We couldn’t have things as we would have done in peacetime but Bill and Eswyn seemed too thoroughly happy to mind … Bill did not know until the previous Wednesday whether he was certain to get leave … the whole village turned up at the church and if good wishes count for anything they should be among the happiest couples on earth… - Coral Winifred Ellinor writing to Susan Lyster Our neighbours had a little cabin on the beach at Prestatyn, Wales and let us honeymoon there, so off we went loaded with a bag of tomatoes, a tin of Spam, dried eggs, bread and a little marge. As my husband used to say, we were as happy as if we were in our right minds. – Jean (Wilks) Elmer (In Scotland) a woman met me, boarded me for the night and the next morning put me on a bus with the windows boarded up that took me to the ship. I had never been to England before and here I was going all the way to Canada. We were ten days at sea, stopped twice and all the lights were darkened. U boats were following us. – Jane “Jean” (Clark) Atkinson. People are sliding past the window and there under the light Is a blessedly familiar face. Arms are helping us down, my foot crunches into snow and for the first time, though England is ten days and seven thousand miles away, this frozen land begins to feel like home - author, from “Ten Days and Seven Thousand Miles”, Legion Magazine, Dec 1982 In Pam’s new world flour and sugar came in 100 lb. sacks, sufficient for winter’s bread. There was a cow in the barn, chickens in the hen house, and wild animals as well. It was commonplace for Pam to see a bear ambling down the path to the hen house. Water came by the bucketful from a nearby creek, and in winter thick ice had to be broken with an axe before the bucket could be filled. – about Pam (Munn) Pittaway Has my life been different because of the decision taken so long ago? Difficult to say. I have loved this life and I know this man … the life that might have been is pure fiction. At times there was the longing to ‘go home’ but the stoicism that was British bred always surfaced and life in Canada continued. British I was born and the land of my birth will always be dear to me, yet when we stand to be counted, I am proud to be Canadian. – Doris Clarkson Thus one result of the Army’s long sojourn in Britain was to bring to Canada a large group of new and in general most excellent citizens. – Colonel C.P. Stacey, Official historian of the Canadian Army, Six Years of War Who were these women that returned serviceman brought to Canada? Thousands of Canadian war brides shared their stories, glad and tragic, with WREN, writer, weaver and war bride Eswyn Lyster. She gathers their intimate experiences and the currents of history with the thread of her own life. Canada’s war brides were service women, defense workers, loggers and spies. War’s intensity made brief romances, hasty weddings and long separations. Upon victory, the men went home. Young women, often with infants, waited; some in concentration camps. OPERATION DADDY transported 48,000 war brides and their 21,000 children, some on dysentery riddled former troop ships. Babies died. Transcontinental train trips united lovers and in-laws. Lives were lived in cities, villages, farms, reservations and in Canada’s wilderness. Some faltered. Most stayed and flourished, with over a million descendants. Then their Canadian citizenship evaporated. Eswyn Lyster describes the campaign for restoration. Canada’s war brides and their generations brought hybrid vigour and cosmopolitan experience to Canada. Exploits ranging from shopkeeper to homemaker, ballerina, vice-regal consort and rockstar are told. MOST EXCELLENT CITIZENS reaches around the world and behind enemy lines to recount the whole war bride experience. A story of love, danger, assimilation and lives well-lived, MOST EXCELLENT CITIZENS is ground breaking scholarship; carefully researched and fully indexed. Shared experiences for war brides to cherish and a reference for anyone with a war bride in their family.
British WREN Eswyn Ellinor fell in love with Calgary Highlander Bill Lyster and came to Canada as a war bride in February 1946. Businesswoman, alpine gardener, weaver, genealogist and writer; she advanced reform of Canadian Citizenship laws. Eswyn fought health issues to finish this book. She died in July 2009.
 
 


 

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