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The Immigration Story of Heather Dowdle (English War Bride)

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

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I began my journey to Canada from Worthing, Sussex, England. My instructions were to be at Victoria Station, London. After saying goodbye to my mother and other family members we were put onto double decker buses and taken to a beautiful building. I believe it was the Italian Embassy, lots of beautiful marble floors, stairs, etc. I met three other War Brides there, one I knew slightly from my hometown. The four of us stayed together the whole trip. After two days there we were taken by train to Southampton. Everything was still very secret, even though the war was over. We boarded the Aquitania and soon set sail for Halifax. I found out I was a very good sailor and didn’t miss one of the delicious meals on board. When we arrived in Halifax after a very smooth crossing we had to stay on board another night. Passengers traveling the farthest were taken off first. We received our last army dependent’s pay on board and felt very rich with all the Canadian bills. I remember at Pier 21 we had to find and identify our luggage, which was sent on later.
My husband had told me to get off the train at Kingston, he would meet me there. I didn’t know he had received instructions to me meet me in Napanee. I was told by the Red Cross attendant I had to stay on the train so I was concerned all the way to Napanee that he wouldn’t be there as he had to sign for me. Luckily, Harvey and several members of his family were there to meet me at 5:30am the 1st day of July 1946.
It was quite an adjustment coming from a seaside resort town to a farming community. We purchased our own farm, through the Veterans Land Act, which we operated very successfully and raised two beautiful children. First a daughter, Sally, and a son, Edwin. We celebrated our 50th Anniversary September 26th 1995. Sadly, I lost my husband suddenly in December 2000. I now live in a seniors retirement residence, still very independent, driving myself. Will be 90 years January 5th 2013.