November 11, 2023
Our Indominable War Bride Mothers
Presented by Bob Reay & Carol Small
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After World Wars One and Two, many women who had married soldiers from other countries immigrated to their husbands’ homeland. In Canada, the Second World War resulted in 48, 000 women with 22, 000 children emigrating from mainly the British Isles but also Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Denmark etc. This group represents the single largest contiguous movement of migration to Canada, specifically through Pier 21. Today their descendants number over one million.
A book about war brides in Canada is titled “From Romance to Reality”. That really describes the life of these women as they faced reality after whirlwind romances in their homelands to the incredible, new challenges in this country. The stories of the war brides are many and varied. High School classmates, Bob and Carol, will tell the stories of their incredible war bride mothers. They are completely different, yet representative of war brides in Canada.
Bob Reay was born in Bury St Edmunds UK May 8,1944 during the latter stages of WWII. He and his war bride mother immigrated to Canada under the 1945-1947 War Brides Act. Bob grew up in Walkerton, Ontario. Bob worked for over 50 years in various aspects of the customer service industry. He has just retired as financial planner and is looking forward to winter vacations in Arizona and summers in Ontario. Bob was an active “on Field” member of the Waterloo-Wellington Football Officials’ Association (WWCFOA) from 1997-2017. He served as secretary from 2000-2005, President from 2006-2012 and Past President from 2012-2017. Bob has been married to Helen for 54 years. They have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.
Carol Small was born in High Spen, County Durham, England to Sarah “Ann” Calvert and Wilfred “Elmer” McIntosh who was serving with the Canadian Armed Forces. Ann and Carol arrived in Canada on August 24, 1946, aboard the R.M.S. Mauretania with a thousand war brides and their children. The eldest of five children, she grew up on a farm in Carrick Township, Bruce County, Ontario, and attended a one-room rural school (S.S. 12 Carrick) and Walkerton District Secondary School. After graduating from Stratford Teachers’ College, she began a career in elementary education where she served as a teacher and an administrator in a number of rural and urban schools until her retirement in 2006. Carol also served 8 years, when not teaching, as a trustee with the Middlesex County Board of Education. Carol is married to Roy Small and they still live on their farm near Denfield. They have twos sons and a daughter and six grandchildren. Carol was a founding member and past chair of the Lobo Township Historical Society. This group produced a local history book entitled “The Heritage of Lobo 1820-1920”. As well, she has researched and written several family histories, Rain, Shine or Snow: A History of the Ilderton Agricultural Society 1851-2011, and currently writes historical articles on behalf of Middlesex Centre Archives (MCA) for the local Villager magazines. She has served on the Board of Directors of Fanshawe Pioneer Village, is currently a volunteer and past chair of MCA Board of Directors and is Chair the Committee To Establish a Middlesex County Archives. Carol has been a member of OGS for over 40 years.