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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

A War Guest in Canada

by (author) W.A.B. Douglas

foreword by Cynthia R. Comacchio

introduction by Roger Sarty

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2023
Personal Memoirs, Post-Confederation (1867-), World War II
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2023
    List Price

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During the Second World War, hundreds of children were sent from the UK to stay with family and friends in Canada as “war guests.” This book collects the letters of one such war guest, young W.A.B (Alec) Douglas, who wrote from his wartime home in Toronto to his mother back home in London.
Alec wrote home every week, although sometimes he forgot to post his letters, and they were delayed, and some letters did not get through. Occasionally his godmother and host, Mavis Fry, would add comments and write her own more detailed letters. Also included are letters from Lillian Kingston, who brought Alec to North America in 1940.
This is a story of exposure, at an impressionable age, to ocean passage in wartime, the sights and sounds of New York, the totally new and unfamiliar world of Canada, the wonderful excitement of passage home in a Woolworth Aircraft Carrier as a "Guest of the Admiralty," and his eventful return to a world he had left behind three years before.
A War Guest in Canada includes a foreword by Cynthia Comacchio and an introduction by Roger Sarty.

About the authors

W. A. B. (Alec) Douglas was born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and spent his early childhood years in England. From 1940-43 he lived in Canada as a “war guest,” and he later returned to attend the University of Toronto. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1951 to 1973 when he was appointed director of the Directorate of History, National Defence Headquarters. He is the author of numerous books, including official histories of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy. He lives in Ottawa.

W.A.B. Douglas' profile page

Cynthia Comacchio's research focuses on the history of children/childhood and youth in Canada, late 19th to 21st centuries. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Dominion of Youth: Adolescence and the Making of a Modern Canada, 1920-50 (WLU Press, 2008) and Ring Around the Maple: Settler Children in Canada, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (WLU Press, 2024).

Cynthia R. Comacchio's profile page

Roger Sarty, history professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, was in previous careers senior historian at the Department of National Defence and deputy director at the Canadian War Museum. His other books on the Canadian Army in the Maritimes include Saint John Fortifications (2003, with Doug Knight) and Guardian of the Gulf: Sydney Cape Breton and the Atlantic Wars (2012, with Brian Tennyson)./p>


Roger Sarty's profile page