From Barrie with Love Part VI: Wartime Letters from a Briton in Barrie

/, Downtown/From Barrie with Love Part VI: Wartime Letters from a Briton in Barrie

Ready for another read? This blog series, made possible by the Diana Strachan, daughter of our author Peggy Newman, offers us a look through the lens of a 16-year-old Briton in Barrie during the Second World War.

With Christmas time fast approaching, our author is enthralled in her social circles at Canadian Forces Base Borden and Barrie Central Collegiate Institute. She enjoys a gender-bending Sadie Hawkins dance and participates in a moving Remembrance Day ceremony inside the school’s auditorium. If you would like to catch up on Peggy’s stay in our city so far, read past blog entries here.

November 16, 1941

Darling Mummy and Daddy

How are you getting on? This letter is my Christmas letter to you so I hope you get it in time. It seems funny to be thinking about Christmas so soon, but I suppose it really isn’t very far away. About two weeks ago Joan and I had our photos taken and we hoped to have them ready to send to you in time for Christmas but as they are not ready yet I’m afraid they will be a bit late.

This month seems to be whizzing past with plenty of fun. On Oct 31st we celebrated Hallow’een with a dance at school. We all wore sweaters and skirts to it and had a whirlitzer to provide the music. I went with Ted and I really had a super time including having a new skirt for the occasion. Last Friday was Sadie Hawkins, which means that the girls take the boys out and pay for everything. Honestly, it was really fun. I had to go and call for Ted and then walk on the outside on the pavement. I took him to a show where we sat with a whole bunch of other kids from school and we were all having the greatest fun kidding each other.

After the show we went to the bowling alley but it was too crowded to get a game, so we went to a restaurant and had something to eat and then we went home. I refused, however, to take Ted home, so he had to take me.

Last Sunday the school had a band concert at the show theatre. The last half of the concert was a memorial service and I was up on the stave with a few other girls for choral verse speaking. O boy! Was I scared! We all wore very short red tunics and white blouses and red ankle-socks and we stood each side of a large white poster with a big V on it, done in poppies. Auntie said it looked very impressive and I guess it must have done. Honestly, the theatre was absolutely packed and they had to turn lots away. Afterwards Ted took me to a place to eat and recover from everything. I’m afraid it seemed rather hectic and I felt much better for a nice, cold milk-shake.

I went to church this morning and Bible-Class this afternoon and I feel rather lost at the moment not having Ted around. He went deerhunting this week-end with some other boys and he won’t be back until late to-night or tomorrow. I wonder if they have had any luck. You know, there is a lot of hunting done around here and every day we see cars going through the town with three or four deer on them. It seems hardly possible to think that Joan will be fourteen next Saturday, it really makes me feel old. She is going to have a party and Auntie is giving her a new dress for the occasion.

At the moment I’m rather in a fix as I have to make up my mind whether to have a new dance-frock or a new best dress for Christmas. I really need both and its terribly difficult to decide but I think I will plump for a new best-dress – although a new dance-frock would be so thrilling.

Well, you will be glad to hear that I am getting on fine with my Commercial Course and I really like it. It seems funny to think that next year I shall be working.  You know, Mummy, when you talk about getting us home soon, I couldn’t very well leave Canada until the end of this school year when I shall be able to earn my own living.

We have sent off some cheese for you, Daddy, for Christmas so I hope you get it in time and I hope that you have got your silk stockings, Mummy, which we sent you by human post.

We have actually had some snow, but it has all gone away again and we hope there won’t be any more for a time at least. Somehow when I saw that first snow it made me homesick because it made me realise how long I have been away from home. This will be our second Christmas away from you, honestly the time has flown. I was listening to some English children in Canada talking to their parents in England to-day. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could speak to you? Well, I must wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and perhaps next year we will be home for Christmas. Please remember me to everybody and send my love to the boys.

Well, cheerio, for now, have a lovely time at Christmas, I’ll be with you in spirit. Goodbye, keep your chins up

With all my love

Peggy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(Lipstick kisses on paper)

How do you like my kisses?

November 30, 1941

Darling Mummy and Daddy

Well, how is everything going with you. I expect that Christmas will be over by the time you get this letter but at the moment we are just thinking about it here. On Tuesday Auntie is going to take us to Toronto to do our Christmas shopping. I’m having a new dress for Christmas so I’m going to get it while I’m there which is very exciting. By the way, I received the sweater set you sent me and I simply adore it. It fits me perfectly and its a lovely colour, it also looks super with my new skirt.

I’m afraid the writing in this letter is rather sketchy but I’m writing it very quickly. Everything has been going on as usual at school and I go out every week-end. Last Sunday afternoon I went out to tea to meet some young officers from camp and I really had a swell time although I had to leave early for another date. Of course, last Saturday we celebrated Joan’s birthday by having a few of her friends in to supper and then they al went to the show afterwards. She really got quite a selection of presents and Auntie and Uncle gave her the sweetest new dress.

This week we sent off our photos to you so they should arrive before this letter or about the same time. I hope you like them, everybody around here thinks they are awfully good and very like us, so now you will know what we really do look like. We have actually had a bit more snow since I last wrote but it has all disappeared again and to-day it is very cold and frosty with bright sunshine.

Last night I went to the show with Ted, I’ve been going with him now for six months but I’ve had enough variety during that time, not to make me tired of him.

I hope you received the silk stockings and the cheese O.K. By the way don’t forget to give Bobby and John their photos will you? We also sent one to Granny and Grandpa. Well, at the moment there is really not any news to tell you so I guess I’ll sign off. Please send my love to the boys and remember me to all my friends.

Look after yourselves and Daddy, I think you are getting fat, at least that is what it seems like from your photo.

Cheerio ‘till next time

Tons of love

Peggy xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

December 7, 1941

Darling Mummy and Daddy

How are you getting on?

At the moment we have Uncle in bed with a bad case of Tonsilitis but otherwise everything is O.K. The weather so far has been very mild for which we are all rather thankful although Joan is longing for the snow to come.

On Tuesday Auntie took us to Toronto to do our Christmas shopping. She bought me the darlingest new dress of pink wool and a lovely pair of motor boots. They are brown, trimmed with fur and they are very warm. Joan is getting skis for Christmas so I bought her a pair of red leather ski gloves and Auntie bought her a pair of ski boots. Joan and I bought Uncle a pair of gloves and Auntie a very pretty knitting bag. At the moment I’m broke except for 2 cents right up to Christmas so I’m wondering how I shall hold out.

So far this weekend I’ve had a date every night and each time we’ve had the car which was very nice. I’m hoping we’ll have it again tonight. It seems to me that I’m having a pretty good time. I’ve already been invited to a party to which I can wear my new dress so I am very thrilled.

I expect by the time you get this letter you will have received your presents including the photographs. Did you like them?

Well I don’t think there is any news to tell you so I guess I’ll sign off now. Give my love to the boys and remember me to all my friends. Look after yourselves and have a happy New Year.

Cheerio ‘till next time.

Tons of love,

Peggy xxxxxxx

2018-09-10T19:19:55+00:00

About the Author:

Billy Courtice is the Chair of the Barrie Historical Archive. Otherwise, he is a writer, reader and rampant ice cream eater who makes a living in strategic communications.
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