Parents of Port Alice resident Cathy Anderson were married on D-Day, 1949.
Kenneth and Edwina Chalmers wed at the St. George’s Anglican Church in Cadboro Bay Beach in Victoria. Cadboro Bay is famous for their “Cadborosaurus”—their equivalent of the Lochness Monster and the Ogopogo.
Kenneth was a member of the Canadian Scottish Princess Mary’s Regiment, so the men in the wedding party, the groom and his three groomsmen, all wore kilts. Their ceremonial swords were used to form an archway for the wedding party as they exited the church.
Edwina, a 19-year-old bride, wore a white dress that she sewed herself. Her three sisters were her bridesmaids. Kenneth and Edwina travelled to Vancouver for their honeymoon: there was no BC Ferries in those days, so they had to take a ship.
Anderson is not sure why they chose to get married on D-Day, other than the fact that it was so close to the war, it was an important date and one they’d likely never forget.
Kenneth and Edwina were school mates; but, it was only when Kenneth came back from the war that they realized they were in love and wanted to get married.
Like many young men of the day, Kenneth enlisted at age 17 in 1943 by lying about his age. He started out doing kitchen duties in England. The English Channel, with so many different currents running through it, can get just about anybody sick. He was noted as one of the people who did not get sick.
Kenneth spent the last few months of the war in France. Working as a truck driver, he delivered equipment and support to the soldiers who were advancing. He never saw the front and was never directly involved in any battles.
After the war, Kenneth was hired by the Department of National Defence to drive a truck. He later became a crane operator in the navy dry dock, then was promoted to dry dock operator.
Anderson describes her father as “very military,” as “the man of the house,” and not comfortable with physical expressions of affection, which she attributes to his childhood growing up in a foster home. Her mother tried to kindle closeness between him and his three daughters by sending them out on fishing trips together. These fishing trips later turned out to be Anderson’s fondest memories of her father.
Kenneth remained in the Princess Mary’s Regiment until he became infirm, retiring as a sergeant major. As a result, Anderson grew up listening to bagpipes and drums. Her father didn’t talk much about the war, only mentioning odd things like the sound of a certain kind of bomb that screeched—“you could hear it coming and you knew you had time.” Anderson learned about the war by watching war movies and documentaries with her father.
Edwina worked out of the home as soon as her eldest child was old enough to babysit. She was a seamstress who made draperies, working for a time in the draperies department at Woodwards.
Kenneth passed away from cancer in 1981 at age 55. Edwina never remarried, but she lived common-law with a man whom she also outlived. Edwina is now 91 years old and, with some help from daily home care and her daughters, is still living on her own. She has moderate dementia: she is able to perform routine tasks but can no longer remember the names of the people in her wedding party.