As a child, I never imagined what life was like before my parents had my brother and me. But once in a while they would talk about their courtship and what it was like to meet right after World War 2.
When war broke out in 1939, my dad, Edward McHugh, signed up right away. He was stationed in Yorkshire, England and only returned home when the war ended in September 1945. He was already 31 and normally would have been considered a confirmed bachelor.
My mom, Patricia Deakin, would often speak about the day the war ended. She worked for the Sunlife Insurance Company of Montreal. The Sunlife Building was located on Dominion Square in downtown Montreal. When word got out that Germany had surrendered, all of the office workers in downtown Montreal just left their offices and walked out into the streets to express their joy. My mom described it as an amazing outburst of pure joy and celebration of the end of a long and painful war.1
When Edward went to war, he intended to return to work for his employer, the Canadian Celanese located in Drummondville and his employer had guaranteed his employment. However, my dad decided to stay in Montreal.
At that time, my mom’s brother, Jack Deakin, was dating Norine Scott. Norine and Patricia became great friends. The picture below shows them in the Laurentians for a day of skiing.
Both the Canadian National and the Canadian Pacific operated trains from Montreal to the Laurentians, known as the “snow trains,” otherwise known as the P’tit train du Nord.2 Below is one of the Canadian Pacific posters.3
It wasn’t long before Norine introduced her young and eligible Uncle Eddie to my mom and that was the beginning of their courtship.
Both Ed and Patricia loved going to the movies and their Saturday night dates were often a meal at Bens Delicatessen, followed by a show. Bens was a well known delicatessen in Montreal that was famous for its Montreal-style smoked meat. In 1908, Benjamin Kravitz and his wife Fanny Schwartz opened a sweet shop on Saint-Laurent Boulevard and then added sandwiches, using Benjamin’s mother’s recipe. In 1929, they moved to 1001 Burnside (now de Maisonneuve), in the theatre and night club district of the city, and then to their final location in 1949.4
My parents were married on May 21, 1949 at St. Columba Anglican Church in Notre-Dame-de-Grace. This church was built in 1920 but has now been sold to a developer.6 My grandparents would have been parishioners of the church as they lived just 10 minutes away.7 The post WW2 period was marked by a housing shortage. Pressure on the housing shortage was due to demobilized soldiers returning home, and the increase in newly created families. My parents, like many post WW2 newlyweds, lived with my grandparents after the wedding.
The wedding announcement in the Montreal Star on May 30 1949, describes the bride as wearing:
“A gown of white slipper satin made with nylon yoke on Grecian lines and with train. Her veil was of tulle illusion, was finger tip length, held with a bandeau of lilies of the valley and orange blossoms. She carried a cascade bouquet of white carnations and bavardia.”8
The wedding announcement goes on to say that the reception was held at the Montreal West City Hall, in the music room. This photograph of the wedding party is probably taken outside the Montreal West Town Hall.
The wedding announcement continues:
“Mr. and Mrs. McHugh went to Pleasant View Hotel, North Hatley, for their honeymoon, the bride wearing for travelling a three-piece suit of beige Scotch mist, with white straw hat and green accessories and a corsage of white carnations.”9
Founded in 1897 and located on Lake Massawippi, North Hatley is one of the prettiest villages in Quebec.10 Below is a post card of the Pleasant View Hotel:11
- Courtesy Cadeau, C, All About Canadian History, The End of World War II in Canada, Montrealers celebrate VE Day, https://cdnhistorybits.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/ve-day-vj-day-canada/, accessed 29 November 2022.
- Baladodiscovery.com, Saint-Sauveur History, https://baladodiscovery.com/circuits/900/poi/10159/saint-sauveur-history, accessed 27 December 2022.
- Pinterest, Kirill Blinov, accessed 26 December 2022.
- Wikipedia, Bens De Luxe Delicatessen, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bens_De_Luxe_Delicatessen_%26_Restaurant, accessed 7 December 2022
- Stanton, Michael, 2005
- Memento Heritage Montreal, St. Columba Church, https://memento.heritagemontreal.org/en/site/st-columba-church/#:~:text=Built%20in%201920%2C%20the%20church,the%20Polish%20and%20Korean%20communities, accessed 27 December 2022.
- Lovells Directory, 1949, Deakin, page 1120, accessed December 20, 2022.
- Newspapers.com, McHugh-Deakin wedding announcement, 30 May 2022, accessed 22 November 2022.
- Eastern Townships, North Hatley, Things to Do in North Hatley, https://www.easterntownships.org/towns-and-villages/45050/north-hatley#:~:text=Founded%20in%201897%2C%20the%20village,village%20centre%20are%20all%20unique., accessed 28 December 2022.
- Pleasant View Hotel, North Hatley, Quebec, Photogelatine Engraving Co. Limited, 19?, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, 0002643996, accessed 28 December 2022.