Hilda Lonsdale Beauline
Life and Work
Hilda Lonsdale was born on December 16, 1922 in Leeds-Yorkshire, England. Her father, James, was injured in WWI and died when Hilda and her brother, Herbert, were very young. Hilda's mother, Lily, worked in a factory sewing buttons on clothing.
Hilda graduated school hoping to study fashion design at college, but because of limited finances and the onset of WWII, she was not able to pursue this schooling. She joined the Air Raid Precaution unit, whose responsibilities included monitoring air assaults and warning the populace of incoming bombing raids. Her workplace was in the basement of a building where there was little ventilation, so she was often ill. Hilda wanted to enlist in the Air Force, but her mother refused. She then entered the landed army and joined many women working for the war effort on trains, farms, and factories. She moved to Knaresborough, England to live in a hostel with other British army women.
Eighteen year-old leading airman Roger Beaulne from Hull, Quebec was stationed at Allerton Park, just outside of Knaresborough. One night in 1943, he was socializing with a few friends in a local pub when two women walked in and asked if any of the men played the piano. The young men said, "No, we don't, but we dance," and Hilda replied, "Ok, then come down to the hostel. The more the merrier." According to Roger, the conversation in the pub was how they started. Hilda and Roger worked at their respective jobs during the day and spent their free evenings together, though returning home in time to meet their 10 o'clock curfews.
Hilda's home was a two hour bus ride from Knaresborough, and Roger met Hilda's mother in 1944. Then, on February 17, 1945, Hilda married Roger in the Registrar's office in Leeds. Hilda's brother and mother were at the wedding, and Roger had buddies from the base in attendance. Hilda did not have enough coupons to get a proper wedding gown and was married in a short dress. Roger received many of the items for the wedding meal from the cook at the base, and the wedding reception was held in Lily's house. There was no honeymoon; the couple had only two days before returning to work. The newlyweds went as often as possible to Leeds to spend the weekend together. On April 3, 1945, Hilda gave birth to the couple's first daughter, Yvonne. Hilda had stopped work when she was pregnant and returned home to her mother's house. Roger travelled down from Knaresborough as often as possible to visit.
Roger left England in December 1945 and arrived back in Canada on New Year's Day, 1946. He was discharged from the Air Force and found work at a windmill outside of Hull, Quebec. The Red Cross was required to check Roger's living quarters and insure that there was a home for his new war bride. He had to show that he was established and could provide for Hilda and Yvonne before they were allowed to travel to Canada to meet him. These precautions were necessary because by 1945 there was some concern over the numbers of war brides that had arrived in Canada only to be deserted by their husbands.
Hilda and Yvonne sailed into Halifax aboard the "Mauritania" in August 1946. Mother and daughter disembarked and then travelled by train to Ottawa, where Roger met them to take them to Hull, Quebec. Hilda asked her husband when they met why he was in uniform. He replied, "There aren't any jobs, so this is my job now." Many of the returning Canadian soldiers found the postwar employment situation limited. Countless veterans, Roger included, received letters from the Canadian military stating that they would accept reenlistment.
After arriving in Canada, Hilda changed faith to become Roman Catholic, and the couple had their marriage blessed by the Roman Catholic Church. Their second daughter, Susan, was born on June 1, 1947. Their son, Robert, was born eighteen months later, but, sadly, he passed away at three months of age from pneumonia. Their fourth child, Denise, was born on October 21, 1949. They lived in Hull, Quebec until 1951. Hilda enjoyed Rogers large family, met many people, and made friends easily.
In 1951, Roger, Hilda, and their four children moved to England, then Belgium so that Roger could work as a safety supervisor for the Canadian Air Force in Marlboro, France. They returned to Canada in 1955 and lived on a military base in Rockcliffe, Ontario until 1962. On March 6, 1960, their youngest son, Steven, was born. During their stay in Rockcliffe, Hilda performed in a couple of plays and worked in the base dining room. The family was transferred to Camp Borden, where they lived until Roger's retirement from the Air Force in 1966. He then began to work for the National Research Council, Engineering Plant, in Ottawa. By this time, Denise and Susan had both married RCMP officers and had moved in with their husbands. Roger and Hilda were living in Ottawa in 1973 when they travelled to Alberta for a visit. They enjoyed their short stay in Wetaskiwin and decided to move to Alberta that same year.
Roger joined the RCMP in Wetaskiwin, working there until 1978, at which time he began working at Peavey Mart, a job that he held until his retirement in 1984. Hilda worked for the Betty Shop on Main Street for two years and then worked for Carlton Cards in the Wetaskiwin Mall.
Tragically, Steven was killed in a car accident on March 11, 1982. Only ten months later, the family suffered another loss when Yvonne passed away from illness. The asthma that plagued Hilda for some time worsened, and she soon began experiencing other health problems. She entered long-term care in August 2001, and passed away at the age of eighty years on April 23, 2003.
Compiled by: Marilyn Hawkins
Contributors: Roger Beaulne, Denise Yaholkoski, Susan McGilvray