Livia Picado Swan, Huron County Archives assistant, is working on the Henderson Collection this summer and highlighting some of the stories and images from the collection.

In keeping with our August theme of making lemonade from lemons, we take a look at some of the wedding photos taken by Gordon J. Henderson during the Second World War. The photographs highlight some of the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force who celebrated their marriages while stationed at one of Huron County’s air training schools. So far, staff know of 18 different weddings that Henderson photographed, which are all available to be viewed online.

During the Second World War, Henderson, travelled to air training schools in Goderich, Port Albert, and Clinton taking pictures of classes and other base activities. Many airmen came to his studio in Goderich to have their portraits taken to send home to family and friends. The Henderson Collection also includes wedding portraits, candid shots, and correspondence related to WWII air training in Huron County.

Henderson Collection wedding photo of Fannie Lavis and Cpl. Wesley F. Haddy

Haddy wedding – A992.0003.202a


Fannie Lavis and Cpl. Wesley F. Haddy, from Seaforth, were married on Aug. 6, 1945. Miss Lavis had two parties hosted for her by her friends before her wedding, including a crystal shower, according to the Huron Expositor, as found in our online collection of Huron Historic Newspapers.

Henderson Collection wedding photo of Sgt. Cecil R. Holmes and Lorraine Eleanor Atkinson

Holmes Wedding – A992.0003.179a

Sgt. Cecil R. Holmes married Lorraine Eleanor Atkinson on June 10, 1944. Their wedding was held in the Dundas Central United Church in London, and the Clinton News Record reported on the event. During the 1940s, newspapers would describe the clothing, decorations, and events at the ceremony for their readers.

“The Church was attractive with Peonies, Ferns, and Palms, and was lighted with tapers held in candelabras. C.E. Wheeler was at the organ and the soloist was Miss Edna Parsons, who sang ‘Because’. The bride was given in marriage by her Uncle. A.G. Atkinson of Detroit. She was dressed in a filmy white net with panels of brocaded net adored with bows of white velvet and orange blossoms in the full skirt, which ended in a slight train. The dress was fashioned with sweetheart neckline and long sleeves. An illusion veil fell in three lengths from a flowered Headdress and she carried American beauty roses, “ (As published in the Clinton News Record, 1944-06-15, pg. 8, from our online collection of Huron Historic Newspapers)

Note that the dress in the description doesn’t match the image. It’s likely that Mrs. Holmes wore a different gown for her wedding than she did her wedding pictures. Wedding dresses during the Second World War were often shared or passed between women to aid in the war efforts and to avoid using excess fabric when rations were in place. Other women would simply wear a fine dress from their closet instead of a dress specifically meant for the ceremony.

Henderson Collection wedding photo of Helen Marguerite Miller and Roy Wagner

Wagner Wedding – A992.0003.178a

Helen Marguerite Miller and Roy Wagner were married on June 5th of 1945, at Wesley Willis United Church in Clinton, ON. They went to the home of the bride’s family for a buffet lunch and reception.

“The bride, given in marriage by her father, wore a floor length gown of white brocaded satin, fashioned on princess lines with a sweetheart neckline. Her embroidered floor length veil was caught with orange blossoms and lily of the valley, and she carried a bouquet of white carnations, bouvardia, and lily of the valley.” (As published in the Clinton News Record, 1943-06-10, from our online collection of Huron Historic Newspapers)

As the Huron County Museum continues to digitize more images from the Henderson Collection, perhaps we will find more weddings celebrated by the men and women of the RCAF army bases in Huron County. There were many weddings held without a notice in the paper, making it a bit harder to find public information about the ceremony. I hope that the descriptions that do exist, and the smiling faces of the wedding parties, will let you imagine these beautiful times of joy during such a difficult era.