British Child Guest Remembers
by June Jolly, London U.K
British children were given sanctuary in Windsor during WWII. These
children were introduced to the joy of cokes and hamburgers and
Canadian Christmases and endeared themselves to the locals.
British kids in Windsor enjoying
a game of baseball in 1943, (l-r): John Shackleton, Mary Phillips,
Jeanette Rothwell, Dennis Drew, Jacqueline Eastman, Kenneth Pendergast
(batting) and Mamie Bain, catching.
WWII, several Rotary Club members in Windsor opened their homes
to children of Rotarians in England. I arrived in Windsor as a 12-year
old girl with my 9-year old sister and 6-year old brother. We had
traveled across the Atlantic – criss-crossing to avoid the
U-boats – and were somewhat shell-shocked. We had been living
on the southern coast of England where an invasion was expected
at any time. The feeble defenses in that area consisted of barbed
wire fences and mines on the beaches. The war was long over before
these armaments were finally removed.
siblings and I were welcomed into three separate families; my sister
went to a home in Riverside, my brother moved in with a Grosse Pointe,
MI family and I spent four years with Walkerville pediatrician Dr.
George White, and his wife and family. I attended King Edward School
and Walkerville Collegiate along with the White’s children,
Dordie [George] and Ann. These were happy years for me, highlighted
by annual holidays with the YWCA camps at Orendoga and Tapapwingo.
in Windsor was very different from in England; the lack of uniforms
and the inclusion of the opposite sex were foreign to me. I am certain
my teachers were appalled by me accent and writing skills, as all
I could do was upright, “joined-up” printing. Mrs. McLaren,
our Grade 8 teacher, was the first to instill confidence in me and
I ended up winning the annual school medal – which I treasure
to this day. I learned to spell, which I am doubtful I would have
accomplished elsewhere. I was instructed in public speaking, health
studies, and music and art appreciation, and benefited from a much
more liberal education than was available to me in my home country.
Left photo: Anne White with British guest
June Jolly during WWII. Right photo: June and Anne reunite in recent
of school, we made candy to sell and filled “ditty bags”
for sailors to help with the war effort. In winter, Ann and I often
skated up the road to join in the fun when Willistead Park was flooded
to make a rink. As soon as spring came, we played hopscotch and
baseball on the vacant lot opposite our Devonshire Road home.
was another mystery to me. I shall always remember my foster father
having us all duck for apples before we were given our treats. Christmas
and the real trees were another wonder. I especially remember the
year our tree was sprayed white by the local garage and decorated
with blue fairy lights.
On Christmas morning we shouted our greetings to my family in England,
just after the King’s speech, knowing that my parents were
doing the same. Later, it was possible for us to have a short phone
call, but these were never very satisfactory.
parents somehow managed to send over my bicycle in the middle of
the war. It was very different from the Canadian cycles. I even
had a little pump attached to it to blow up my tyres which was a
great bore. I was delighted when they were adapted so that I could
use the local air pump on Wyandotte Street.
of milk shakes and sodas at the Peerless Ice Cream Parlour and the
downtown movie theatre are also fondly recalled. It was after experiencing
these treats that I was introduced to hotdogs, hamburgers and, wonder
of wonders! a coke – all things I longed for after my return
to England, where rationing continued for several years after the
great treat was our annual trip to Bob-Lo Island. As it was leased
to the United States, Canadians were allowed only three days per
year to enjoy the fun. As British Child Guests (BCG) we were given
free tickets and could go on the rides as often as we liked. We
never had to queue as we went in through the exit gate and must
have been a real pain to everyone else who had to patiently wait
their turn. This excursion was one of the few occasions that I saw
my sister. Strangely, I saw my brother more often as I was invited
to stay with his foster family, the Hendersons, in Grosse Point.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was
so kind and patient with us. When I left England I had been cross
to think that I had to leave friends and family in England during
the bombings so I was not a particularly grateful guest at the time.
I shall be eternally thankful to all the people who sacrificed for
my family and me. Later I learned that these generous individuals
received no compensation whatsoever for their kindness.
Canada will always remain part of my life and a treasured memory
as I grow old. Thank you all at The TIMES for reviving my many memories.
Editor’s note: Wallace
Campbell, president of the Ford Motor Company during WWII, also
opened his large home opposite to Willistead Park on Richmond to
many British children.