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Brian Noakes and Doris Wass

A couple of years ago Brian Noakes visited Pier 21’s Resource Centre and a friendship was begun. He had come looking for information about the ship that brought his war bride mother and her children to Canada but he ended up giving us far more than we could offer him. Over the past few years Mr. Noakes has been a regular visitor, allowing us to scan his precious photographs and record his immigration story. Mr. Noakes was very interested in finding someone who had made the same crossing and while we had the story of a war bride who arrived with Mrs. Noakes and her children but her address had changed and we could not reach her on his behalf.

Being a detective at heart Brian took up the challenge and located a war bride called Doris Wass who had indeed crossed with his family. The two our now good friends and have exchanged many photographs and memories of their crossing. Their story and many like it illustrate the potential of the Story Collection to make meaningful connections between people. Please enjoy the reflections of Brain Noakes and Doris Wass.

Brain Noakes

My personal memories of leaving my country (England) are those of an eight year old boy who was starting out on a great adventure.

My twice widowed mother had decided to emigrate to Canada after our home had been bombed; the first leg of our journey was a train trip to Glasgow, Scotland, which included a stop-over in London where we saw a Pantomime show, the first of many firsts for me. Upon arrival in Glasgow, we were fed porridge with salt instead of sugar while awaiting to embark on the Isle de France for our trip to Canada. I don't remember a great deal about the trip, other than being seasick and wishing that one of the many soldiers I saw was my missing stepfather.

We finally arrived in Halifax, November 23rd, 1944, and eventually boarded a C.N.R. train bound for Vancouver B.C. . This was another first for me, spending six days on a train travelling from East coast to West coast; a fabulous adventure for an eight year old and a fond, fond memory for a now 65 year old.

The Noakes family arrived in Vancouver on November 29th, 1944 and were met by my stepfather's family and a reporter from the Vancouver Province who took pictures and wrote a story on our arrival on Canada.

Fifty-six years later returned to Halifax to spend my retirement years in the city that welcomed me to Canada.

Doris Wass nee Mathews

I am - Doris Wass nee Mathews and with our three year old son Christopher I arrived in Canada aboard the Ile de France, November 23, 1944. The war was still on and the Ile de France as being used as a hospital ship. We traveled in convoy, which made for some interesting moments as you can imagine. Everybody was so good, and very helpful to us. I am still friends with Peggy Gliddon who shared the same cabin with us, and held my head when I was sea-sick. She is the President of the Sask. War Brides.

We travelled by train to Qu'appelle Sask, another real experience, where we were met by the Red Cross, and my husband's large family. We stayed with Grandma Wass until my husband came 3 months later.

My husband Sgt. Selwyn Wass K. 7062 R.C. Artillery. He sailed to England on the Monarch of Bermuda with the first Canadian contingent September 1945 on the Nieuw Amsterdam. He was injured in the landing of Sicily and returned in a body brace from neck to hips, pretty grim for a twenty-five year old. He recalls walking up & down Pier 21 not realizing what the years ahead would hold for him.

We were married Jan. 18/1941 - St. Paul's Church, Harringay, London. We are now into our 56th year of married life, & who said it wouldn't last. Six years after our arrival in Canada we had a baby girl born in Indian Head, Sask. Vale Elizabeth Wass Power. So we produced one Brit. and one Canuck, who are Canadians. * Thank you for the important job that you all are doing, and it is certainly appreciated by those of us, who rested for awhile at Pier 21, & hold a deep affection for the people of Halifax who were so very kind to us.