Annette Fulford has been researching Canadian First World War brides for the past 15 years.
Her interest in war brides began in 1992, when the Maple Ridge genealogist and family historian inherited a letter written by her grandmother in 1919.
The letter, more than 68-pages long, chronicles her maiden voyage across the Atlantic to Canada on a troopship with her husband, a returning Canadian soldier. The ship carried thousands of soldiers, war brides, and civilians travelling to Canada after the war.
In Fulford’s search to learn more about her grandmother’s journey and the experiences of other war brides from this era, she discovered there was very little written about the brides that came to Canada during and after the First World War.
She is bringing their history to life in a series of presentations, displays, and articles. In doing so, Fulford has written chapters for two books about Canadian war brides by Melynda Jarratt.
The first is War Brides: The stories of the women who left everything behind to follow the men they loved, which was published in Britain in 2007. It has been reprinted in Canada in 2009 by Dundurn publishing.
The second chapter is in the book Captured Hearts: New Brunswick’s War Brides, which was published in Fredericton, N.B. by Goose Lane Editions, in 2008.
Now, a week before Remembrance Day 2020, Maple Ridge’s own Fulford will be one of four people taking part in an online panel discussion focused on women who have earned a name for themselves, write about war.
Women Who Write About War is set for Thursday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, and will presented by the Federation of British Columbia Writers via Zoom. It will include a question-and-answer period with the authors.
Fulford will be joined on the panel by Susan Raby-Dunne, Liz Rachel Walker, and Jacqueline Carmichael.
Carmichael is the president of the Federation of BC Writers, author ofHeard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front, 1914-1918, and the event moderator.
“We’ve been doing dozens of online events for writers and readers since the pandemic started,” Carmichael said. “With Remembrance Day around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to connect with women who write about war.”
In advance of Remembrance Day 2020, Heritage House is releasing Carmichael’s book featuring the personal stories of ordinary men and women who answered the call to war – the book grew out of her interest in giving voice to those often overlooked by history.
Her emotion-packed collection of tiny stories gathered from letters, diaries, and interviews that show the human side of war in all its dimensions, Carmichael said.
Highlights include profiles of people from nearly every Canadian province and many parts of the US, including people of Indigenous, East Asian, South Asian, and African backgrounds. The book is illustrated throughout with the First World War era photos, postcards, documents, and the author’s contemporary photos from battlefield sites and monuments.
The one fiction writer on the panel – and also the one representing the Second World War, Walker’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in print and online publications and have been included in anthologies and chapbooks.
The Victoria resident’s first novel, The Dieppe Letters, received Crime Writers of Canada’s award for best unpublished manuscript in 2020.
The Dieppe Letters is a mystery novel set in London, England, during World War II that examines whether the Germans knew in advance about the 1942 Dieppe Raid. The tragic raid was the deadliest day for Canadians during the war. In order to solve the murder of an MI5 officer, a Scotland Yard detective inspector must decide whether to trust a beautiful refugee with a mysterious past.
Susan Raby-Dunne is the author of several books about the First World War, including John McCrae: Beyond Flanders Fields, The Brooding Soldier and its Creator,and Morrison.
Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentlemanis published by MMWG.
Bonfire is the essential, mostly true story of the origin of John McCrae’s famous poem,In Flanders Fields as told by the poet’s horse, Bonfire.
It tells the story of the events that led to McCrae’s spontaneous writing of the poem, an outpouring of grief triggered by the battlefield death of popular young lieutenant, Alexis Helmer, in McCrae’s artillery regiment.
It’s also the story of the love between a soldier and his horse, and also a cocker spaniel, Bonneau, that adopted McCrae and joined what he called “my little family.” Although told from Bonfire’s POV, it is closely based on real history, and includes 25 archival photographs, including some very rare ones, the military historian and battlefield guide said.
The Longview, Alta. resident followed McCrae’s footsteps from Guelph to Montreal, to Devizes on the Salisbury Plain in England, to St.Nazaire where McCrae and his artillery brigade disembarked, all the way north through the battlefields he was in, to where he wrote In Flanders Fields, and finally to where he died and is buried.
“I felt clearly that he was with me on the journey. I’ve also read everything written by, or about him,” Raby-Dunne said.
Next week’s online author event is free, but registration is required at bcwriters.ca/events-for-writers.
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