24 August 2008

A Queen's thanks leaves historical legacy

Queen Elizabeth, mother of the present Queen Elizabeth II, arranged to have a decorative letter of thanks sent to people who hosted British children evacuated to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA at the start of WW2.

Designed and printed in Ottawa, 7000 copies were produced. The Queen's desire to show appreciation produced a flurry of administrative activity, not the least of which was trying to track down who to send the letters to. Children moved. They spent long summer holidays away from their school-time homes. Everyone had to be thanked; authorities wanted to avoid missing anyone out. The result is a raft of records which in Canada are in the files at Library and Archives Canada in RG9.

These records are especially valuable as they document otherwise difficult-to-trace children and their host families who came privately, with schools, companies and non-profit organizations, not just the children evacuated under the government (CORB) program .

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