Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Canadian Women March

By September 1918 it appears that Canadian women had begun to suspect that young soldiers were not going on leave to England to improve their minds. More than likely they would be found on English beaches.
"The London Advertiser", September 4, 1918.

Well - the floozy !

“The London Advertiser” on September 21, 1918 reported on a march in Toronto.


                      AGAINST ‘FLOODING THE DOMINION

                        WITH BLUSHING ENGLISH BRIDES

 Prominent Toronto women feel keenly on the question of Canadian soldiers marrying overseas. In their opinion it is a vital problem and one which should be dealt with by our Government at once.

‘It is the most unfair to our Canadian girls,’ said Mrs. E. A. Stevens, president of the Provincial Women’s Christian Union, and the matter is one which the women should bring to the attention of our good government league, and thus draw it forcibly to the attention of the Canadian Government, whose duty it is to look after the young womanhood of this Dominion.’

‘As a result of the fact that the British Government is playing the role of a match-making mamma and has clubs and organizations for the purpose of encouraging matrimony among the colonials, the success of their scheme is apparent in the statement attributed to Sir Edward Kemp (1) that ‘Canadian soldiers overseas are marrying English girls at the rate of one thousand a month.’

                              Thousands of English Brides

‘This means after the war that Canada is to be flooded with thousands of blushing English brides, while the Canadian women will be forced to work in the offices, shops and factories for the remainder of their lives.

The women of Canada have made their sacrifices without a murmur in letting their young men go overseas. Many of them will never come back, and it is my opinion that those who are left should be encouraged to marry the girls at home.

Now that the tide has turned in favour of the Allies and the Americans are pouring into the field of battle, I feel that the question of giving our young men who have seen service since the beginning of the war an opportunity to return to Canada on a short furlough.’ ”

Well now isn’t that interesting. If Canadian soldiers were marrying at the rate of one thousand a month it should not take more than ( roughly 300,000 active at any one time, and I think that this is a generous figure, divided by 12,000) 25 months to marry off the whole Canadian Corps ( many are already married, and two wives are a no no in Victorian Edwardian Canada). So probably the whole job could be done sooner than 25 months.

In fact War Brides were much more a World War Two phenomena than with the First. The Great War Canadian soldier spend most of the war years in Belgium or France. Leave was not easy to get for the ranks. Certainly it happened. “It appears ’wounded, Blighty, marriage’ is becoming a popular pastime with our fellows,” wrote Private Donald Fraser in his diary.(2)

(1) Sir Edward Kemp (August 11, 1858-August 12, 1929) succeeded Sir Sam Hughes as Minister of Militia and Defence in 1916. In 1917 he went to London as Minister of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada.
(2) Tim Cook, “Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting The Great War, 1917-1918”, vol. 2, Viking Canada, 2008, p. 174.

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