How Many War Bride Descendants?

What would be your estimate (guess)?

An article in the Vancouver Sun, 27 January 1996 claimed: “One-fifth of Canada’s population is descended from that most unusual immigration (WW2 war brides).”

Soon after Canadian servicemen arrived in the UK during the Second World War they started meeting and marrying British women. The majority of the brides, 93 percent were British women, stayed in the UK until 1946. About 10% of those who married declined to come to Canada. According to Pier21 “in all, 64,459 soldiers’ dependents consisting of 43,464 war brides and 20,995 children were brought to Canada between April 1942 and March 1948. Three-fourths of the war brides and their children were brought to Canada after the end of the Second World War.”

The women and children together represented about half of one percent of Canada’s population at the time.

To estimate the number in the subsequent generations we turn to the statistics in Canada Fertility Rate 1950-2020.

Assuming each war bride had an average of 3 children there would be a total of about 130,000 war bride children in a cohort born around 1950. A cohort has a span of 30 years.

Assuming each of those had an average of 2 children there would be 260,000 war bride grandchildren born in a cohort around 1990.

And assuming each of those had an average of 1.5 children there would be 520,000 war bride great-grandchildren born in a cohort around 2020. Many of those are not yet born, but they’re included in this estimate anyway.

Taking all those generations together there would be 43,454 +130,000 + 260,000 + 520,000 = about 953 thousand. Let’s call that 1 million war brides and their descendants who have ever lived in Canada. That’s 2.7% of Canada’s present population, nothing like the 20% claimed in the 1996 article.

Some war brides came but could not settle or found the marriage unsatisfactory and returned across the Atlantic. Some of their children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren will have left Canada. For a rough estimate assume they all remained here.

From the estimate blogged earlier this week only about 1,500 war brides are still alive. From life tables about 72% of the children, 99% of the grandchildren and 100% of the great-grandchildren are alive in 2020. That’s 2.3% of Canada’s population in 2020, 60% being greatgrandchildren, 30% grandchildren of a war bride.

Considering unquantified emigration and the number of yet to be born great-grandchildren it’s likely, in round figures, 2%, probably less, of Canada’s population in 2020 are WW2 war brides and their descendants.