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Wilfrid Laurier University Press Fall 2023

A War Guest in Canada
By (author): W.A.B. Douglas Introduction by: Roger Sarty Preface by: Cynthia Comacchio
W.A.B. Douglas ,

Introduction by :

Roger Sarty ,

Preface by :

Cynthia Comacchio


Wilfrid Laurier University Press - Waterloo, ON



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Sep 12, 2023
$24.99 CAD


8in x 5.25 in | 1 gr

Page Count:

272 pages


10 b&w illustrations
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Diaries, letters and journals|History of the Americas|Second World War
  • Short Description
A collection of letters from Londoner W.A.B. (Alec) Douglas, a child war guest in Canada between 1940 and 1943, to his mother back home. Details the excitement of the voyage and his years in Toronto with the Fry family.

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 an introduction by Roger Sarty and a preface by Cynthia Commachio.

  • Accepting children from war zones is a highly topical subject
  • Rare firsthand account of evacuated child
  • “war guests” popular subject for fiction but very little non-fiction on the subject with respect to Canada. Fiction titles include Guests of War series by Kit Pearson and Dear Canada: Exiles from the War, by Jean Little
  • strong interest for World War personal stories
  • Douglas a well-known author of military histories (1970s and 1980s)
  • 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.

    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).

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