Above: The family group at Arnold Dryer and Violet Remnant’s wedding consisted of her sister Winnie, her mother and father, Mr. & Mrs. Remnant, and Vi’s uncle. 1945. (SPRA 259.02.02)
Violet Remnant met her future husband, Arnold Dryer, at a dance in the village hall in Wrecclesham, Surrey. Arnold was stationed at that time at a Canadian army base located a short distance away in Aldershot, and his squadron was billeted in the nearby village of Rowledge. Vi was won over by the very attractive young man in uniform. After Arnold’s squadron was moved, they wrote letters to each other for the duration of the war.
When the war ended, they were worried that Arnold could be sent home at any time so they decided to get married. As Vi was under 21, she needed her parents’ consent. With only four days notice, Violet and Arnold planned their wedding. “We still needed clothing coupons to buy new clothes,” Vi remembered. “I bought a royal blue dress, and my mother used seven of her own coupons to buy Arnold some Oxford shoes. There was no way she was going to let him go up the aisle in army boots!”
At the time, Arnold was in Holland and was late getting back for the wedding. Vi and Arnold were married on August 23, 1945 in Wrecclesham’s Methodist church. There were approximately thirty people in attendance, including members of Vi’s family, friends, and neighbors.
After the marriage, Arnold was indeed sent back to Canada where he returned to farming in the Hermit Lake area west of Grande Prairie. Vi waited approximately ten months for permission from the Canadian Wives Bureau to join him. She had to be ready to leave with only a few days’ notice.
On June 24, 1946 Violet and Betty Eskdale sailed on the Aquitania bound for Canada. Vi’s sister-in-law, Pat Dryer and her young child sailed on a separate ship for wives and their babies. The food onboard the Aquitania was marvelous, but there was no fresh water and many of the ladies were seasick. Upon their arrival, they were all processed through immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.
The three war brides and the baby took five days to travel on a special Red Cross train to Edmonton. The trip was long and hot, and the train had to stop often for blocks of ice. They made a brief stop in Quebec on July 1 but everything was closed due to the holiday. They took a train from Edmonton and arrived in Grande Prairie on July 4. Vi wore her going-away tweed suit despite the summery temperature. She was met at the station by her husband and his family. Vi almost didn’t recognize Arnold. “It was the first time I had seen him in civilian clothing, and he had bee stings on one ear.”
The editor of the local newspaper, J.B. Yule, met Vi on her first day in Grande Prairie. The headline on the front page of the next issue announced, “Three War Brides Arrive in Grande Prairie.”
The community gathered together to welcome the new bride to the Peace Country. An August bridal shower was held for Vi. She didn’t know what to expect, as this was not a custom in England. Community members gifted her with comforts for her new home, including a cream and sugar set, dishes, pillow slips, towels, and a box of home canning consisting of peas and beans in pint sealers.
Although Vi was homesick during her first year in Grande Prairie, she enjoyed being on the farm, attending gatherings at the school for card parties and showers, and socializing with good neighbours.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Telling Our Stories.