In Depth

Canada's war brides

Love in war

Last Updated November 4, 2006

On Nov. 6, 2006, a Via Rail train will carrying a group of war brides to Halifax to revisit the site where they landed in Canada 60 years ago. CBC will be covering the trip from Montreal to Halifax. CBC's Brian DuBreuil will be on that trip and wrote this column.

Brian DuBreuil's parents, Ruby and Jean-Paul, in an undated picture. Brian DuBreuil's parents, Ruby and Jean-Paul, in Aldershot, England, on their wedding day in May 1945.

It was an unprecedented event. During and after the Second World War, thousands of young women and their children left their homes and families to come to Canada to be with the Canadian servicemen they loved.

The numbers are staggering: more than 44,000 women and nearly 21,000 children arrived in Canada between 1942 and 1948. Most came from Britain.

The first wave docked at Pier 21 in Halifax on Feb. 10, 1946. About 950 women and children stepped off RMS Mauretania to begin a life in their new country. Canada's war brides had arrived.

Ruby Ladner was one of those women who left home to follow a dashing young Canadian soldier. I know her story well. Ruby is my mom.

She was a staff car driver in the British military. My father, Jean-Paul, was a staff sergeant in Le Régiment de la Chaudière. They met at a British army dance in December 1944. Five months later, they married.

When mom finally arrived in Canada on board the Queen Mary in August 1946, she had a child, my sister Diane.

'Homesick, seasick and lovesick'

Brian DuBreuil's parents, Ruby and Jean-Paul. Brian DuBreuil's parents, Ruby and Jean-Paul.

They used to have a saying about those war bride ships. They said the women were "homesick, seasick and lovesick." I think all three applied to mom.

Her first days and weeks in Canada weren't exactly a honeymoon, either. With the post-war housing shortage, mom, dad and the baby moved in with my dad's mother in Montreal. Grand-Maman didn't speak any English and mom didn't speak any French. So there was a lot of sign language going on.

Then came the bitter cold and snow that we like to call a Canadian winter. It was almost too overwhelming for a young woman from Penzance, Cornwall. But 60 years, six children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren later, Ruby and Jean-Paul are still together, living out their retirement in British Columbia.

My parents' story is familiar to thousands of Canadian families. The war brides settled in cities, on farms, in logging and mining towns from coast to coast. Some got homesick and returned to Britain, but most stayed, becoming an integral part of the country's fabric.

Back to Halifax

Brian DuBreuil and his mom, Ruby. Brian DuBreuil and his mom, Ruby.

This year is the Year of the War Bride. Before Remembrance Day, several hundred are preparing to make the trip back to Halifax — back to the port that welcomed them 60 years ago.

On Nov. 6, a group of war brides and their families will board a special VIA train in Montreal. The train will stop to pick up more brides in towns and cities like Campbellton, N.B., Bathurst, N.B., and Truro, N.S.

In Halifax, the brides will be feted at Pier 21 — now a museum dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who helped build this country.

Unfortunately, my mom and dad won't be on the train. Mom's health isn't as good as it could be. But I will be on board with a CBC-TV crew to document this journey back to the place it all began — the place were thousands of young women took a chance on love.

Go to the Top


Main page
The war bride train trip
Love in war
by Brian DuBreuil
My mother, the war bride
by Mary Sheppard
The war bride train:
A diary
Your stories:
Margaret Mitchell Button

Photo galleries

The war brides train

Your View

Share your stories, photos


CBC stories

Canadian War Brides
CBC Archives

External Links

Canadian War Brides
Pier 21 in Halifax

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external sites - links will open in new window)

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

World »

Congress releases redacted, declassified Democratic memo
Congress has released a redacted, declassified memo that aims to counter GOP allegations that the FBI abused government surveillance powers in its investigation into Russian election interference.
UN Security Council unanimously votes for ceasefire as airstrikes batter Syria's Ghouta
The UN Security Council on Saturday demanded a 30-day truce across Syria "without delay" as rescuers in the country's eastern Ghouta region said bombing would not let up long enough for them to count bodies during one of the bloodiest air assaults of the seven-year war.
21 International Red Cross staffers have left since 2015 because of sexual misconduct
The International Committee of the Red Cross has joined the list of prominent charities that have uncovered sexual misconduct among its staff.
more »

Canada »

Updated Chatham-Kent flood: Multiple people rescued as Thames River continues to rise video
Residents in Chatham, Ont., were being rescued from their flooded homes Saturday, after the swollen Thames River overflowed in the downtown core and surrounding areas.
Anne Norris found not criminally responsible for killing Marcel Reardon video
Anne Norris, 30, admitted to killing Marcel Reardon, 46, with a hammer. A St. John's trial found her not criminally responsible.
Widespread changes demanded to prevent 'another 100 Tina Fontaines' video
The death of Tina Fontaine and the acquittal of the man accused of killing her has sparked demands for widespread changes to prevent more young Indigenous people falling through society's cracks.
more »

Politics »

New parental leave planned in budget aims to get women into workforce audio
Introducing a new incentive for fathers to take parental leave has largely been driven by the government's attempt to promote gender equality, including allowing women to return to work after having a baby, according to a cabinet minister who oversaw the consultations.
What should Morneau's budget do? We asked the experts — and the critics
Only a handful of people in the Ottawa bubble know for certain what's in the budget document Finance Minister Bill Morneau is releasing next week. But as always, there's no shortage of theories — and everyone has a wish list.
Ottawa moves to settle sexual misconduct class action lawsuits against Canadian Forces
After facing criticism over arguments its lawyers made in court, the federal government is moving to settle proposed class action lawsuits filed by members of the Canadian Armed Forces who allege rampant sexual misconduct, racism and gender discrimination within the military.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Notting Hill, Vicar of Dibley actress Emma Chambers dead at 53
British actress Emma Chambers, known for her roles in The Vicar of Dibley television series and the romantic comedy Notting Hill, has died at 53.
Judge dismisses coal company suit against HBO's John Oliver
A West Virginia judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by coal company Murray Energy against HBO host John Oliver.
Touch Me Not wins Berlin film fest's top award
Touch Me Not, an experimental movie about intimacy from Romanian director Adina Pintilie, won the top Golden Bear prize at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday.
more »

Technology & Science »

How fossil footprints found on a Greek holiday could rewrite the history of humanity
In 2002, a Polish paleontologist found what he thinks are the oldest human-like footprints in the world. Thus began a vicious fight over a discovery that raises new questions about our evolution.
Spark Distracted by interruptions? Science offers tips for focusing
Phone notifications and other distractions that interrupt you before you've finished what you're doing can leave you unable to focus. Here are some simple strategies to maintain and regain that focus.
Why A.I. companies are paying random strangers to take videos of themselves doing mundane tasks
Wired's Tom Simonite tells us about the bizarre odd jobs he's performed for A.I. startups, from lying facedown on the carpet to pretending to buy groceries.
more »

Money »

'The not so golden years' — a quarter of retired Canadians in debt, survey suggests
A "worry-free retirement" may be a thing of the past, according to a new Sun Life Financial survey, which finds that a quarter of retired Canadians are in debt in their golden years.
Backlash against NRA, gun industry spreads in wake of Florida shooting
The National Rifle Association and the firearms industry are facing a growing backlash in the wake of the deadly Florida high school shooting, with calls to boycott the big lobby group spreading from social media to businesses.
No more 'cheat sheets': Electronic logs for truckers mandatory by 2020
A major technological change is about hit the road for Canadian truck drivers. The federal government has announced it will require all commercial truck and bus drivers to install electronic logging devices in their vehicles by the year 2020.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Live Watch the Olympic figure skating gala, featuring Virtue and Moir
Watch coverage of the figure skating gala featuring Canada's golden ice dance duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as well as other Canadian medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford and Kaetlyn Osmond.
Live Watch Olympic Primetime on CBC, featuring bobsleigh, curling and men's hockey final
Watch Day 16 coverage of CBC Olympic Primetime, featuring the last two runs of the 4-man bobsleigh as Canada's Justin Kripps goes for his second consecutive medal. Coverage includes the women's curling final and the men's hockey gold-medal game.
Analysis Gutsy Canadian men's hockey team was easy to cheer for
The resolve of this journeyman-laden Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team was on full display with its bounce-back game to win bronze against the Czech Republic on Saturday.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »