14 November 2017

4,000 Canadian War Bride Survivors

Finding Ottawa Citizen death notices for two war brides, Janet McClymont, age 91, and Anne Huggins, age 89, spouse of a Barnardo boy, sent me back to a project I'd put aside.

Back in August 2016 my blog post on Survival of World War II Canadian War Brides and Their Descendants had estimates of war bride survival. I was not confident of the estimate of 5,500 so took a fresh look.

43,454 war brides came to Canada after the Second World War; 94 per cent were British. Their age distribution has never been published. Passenger lists record them only as adults. My estimate of their ages on arrival in 1946 is shown in the bar chart, median age 25 years.

The distribution will shift to the right with the passage of time and shrink as death takes its toll.

The most useful tool for quantifying this is the cohort life table. For a particular birth cohort such a table provides the probability of death year by year. Ideal would be a table for women born in Britain in the 1920s who moved to Canada in 1946. Lacking the ideal there are tables for women in the UK, and various sub-divisions, and for women in Canada. Some tables are for birth cohorts but more commonly for events during a year or group of years.

The UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) has a database which provides year by year probability of death for the UK female cohort that reached the age of 30 years in 1951 for subsequent years. In blue on the graph. https://goo.gl/cDFKNX.

Statistics Canada includes in the CANSIM database, Table 053-0003
Elements of the life table, Canada, provinces and territories
annual (number) using the qx option at https://goo.gl/y15a8u the most appropriate data for Canada. In red on the graph.

Calculation with the ONS statistics yields 4,747 war bride survivors in 2017. The Statistics Canada statistics yields 3,514. In round figures that's 4,000 war bride survivors in 2017.

As a rough check, based on these calculations we would expect about 500 - 700 war bride deaths in 2017. Based on Canada's population of 36.6 million a community of 1 million people, like Ottawa, would expect to see 14-19 war bride deaths in a year, likely less as not all the women who arrived in Canada in 1946 stayed in the country. Several reports of war bride deaths have been published this year in the Ottawa Citizen.


Unknown said...

Hello John,
I am the daughter of a Jamaican war bride. My mother and I (as a 5-month-old baby arrived in Canada all by ourselves in August 1945, while my father was still overseas.

My mother was a shy 19-year-old when we arrived in Canada. When I learned about the Canadian War Brides Association when I was a teenager, I encouraged her join, but she felt the European war brides and she would not be able to relate because their voyages to Canada were SO different.

After my mother's death, I attended an annual reunion of the Canadian War Brides and Families in Victoria. My husband and I have attended several annual gatherings, and I will be helping to facilitate the next event in Moose Jaw in June 2018.

In recent years, fewer war brides have been spry enough to attend the reunion. However, it's amazing to watch the old ladies who can attend with their children and grandchildren as they tranform themselves into teenagers they were during the war. As soon as they hear the 1940s music that is such an important part of the annual event, they sing along with the music, and dance as best they can, even those who are confined by walkers and wheelchairs.

Here are links to the Canadian War Brides and Families website and Facebook page.



If you would like to do a story on surviving war brides, I would be happy to help you get in touch with one or more of them.

Best regards,
Sharon Clayton
Surrey, BC

PS Pvt Stanley Archibald Thomson the Jamaican/Canadian soldier who died in Normandy on Nov 6 1918, was my cousin.

Unknown said...

Oops - forgot to tick the box to receive follow up comments via my email address.

Sharon Clayton

Anonymous said...

I knew Ken and Janet McClymont. Ken and I were cousins through my McLatchie and McDonald relations. Some of the documents he was kind enough to share with me are still very precious to me, and I just mailed off a copy of a huge collection of newspaper clippings he had about family members to a distant McDonald cousin in Maryland. It's still an invaluable source! Cheers, BT