On Saturday November.02 we were swept back in time to 1946 during a heartwarming Remembrance Day Drama. The live play, The War Brides are Coming was hosted by the Chestermere Historical Foundation and put on by the Aspen Crossing Theatre during an evening performance at the Chestermere Recreation Centre.
Between 1942 and 1948, 187,000 people immigrated to Canada. Over 65,000 of those were what came to be known as War Brides, and their children. Many of these woman had no idea what they were coming to or what to expect when they married their Canadian sweethearts. They had to leave their families and make the trip across the Atlantic and then travel by train to their new homes across the country, eventually adapting to a new culture and raising their families.
The play, The War Brides are Coming was based on the story of two of those women and the setting was at a train station near Chestermere in February 1946. The two young women arrived on the War Bride Train to meet their new families. The problem was that, as with many of the War Brides, they had to deal with prejudice, jealousy and resentment. After all, these women took the finest of our countries young men and married them. However, there were others who were thrilled at the new additions to the community and celebrated what it meant for the country.
The dynamics between the six characters and what their futures held were complex; although the story was easy to follow and very entertaining. There were humorous references to the differences in the European culture and way of life to that of Canadians which got quite a few laughs.
During the intermissions, in addition to enjoying coffee and dessert, there were two displays for guests to look at. One featured memorabilia on Remembrance Day and included scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings over many years. The other table was more specific to War Brides and had a few scrapbooks that held many stories of Alberta War Brides and their families.
There was at least three War Brides in attendance during the play; one of those was Frances Cabot who was originally from England. She came with family to watch the tribute and when asked what she thought of the play, Frances replied that she had a very good time. “I really enjoyed it, it was great,” said Frances with a smile. She added that although she had no idea what she was coming to when she first came to Canada, she never regretted her decision.
Cabot came to Canada in 1946 on the Aquitania, one of the nearly 60 ships which brought British and European War Brides to Canada. She then moved to Montreal with her new husband, John Cabot where they lived for over 60 years before finally moving to Calgary four years ago to be closer to family.
According to a brochure, Aspen Crossing Theatre features custom themed shows filled with intrigue, history, folklore and of course memorable fun. Visit their website for more information on upcoming shows and other fun activities at www.aspencrossing.com
The Chestermere Historical Foundation will use the funds raised at this event toward the ongoing restoration of Chestermere’s first fire truck, a 1952 Ford. The group of volunteers has been working hard to get it back on the road. For more information on the Chestermere Historical Foundation visit their website at www.chestermerehistory.org