The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was created in December 1939. Under the terms of this plan most pilots and air crews from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada were to be trained in Canada. During the war over 151, 500 people were trained for air force duty at 107 schools located across Canada.
Canadian industry produced many military aircraft such as the Lancaster bombers pictured here at Malton Airport near Toronto. Ferry Command was also instrumental in ensuring a steady flow of aircraft manufactured in North America reaching the European theatre of operations. The heavy administrative load from these programs were ably handled by the Women’s Division of the R.C.A.F. There were five local women who enlisted in the group Olive Bujold, Lyla Brown, Ann and Amy Barter of Cascapedia and Annie Taylor of New Richmond. Amy Barter of Cascapedia served in Gander, St. Hubert, North Battleford, and Winnipeg.
This wedding dress was made from the material of a silk parachute. The dress was worn by Lyla Stimson on the occasion of her marriage to Kenneth Beattie. Kenneth Beattie served in Hong Kong with the Royal Rifles, and was imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp near Tokyo for almost four years. This parachute was dropped from an American plane to deliver relief supplies to soldiers on the boats returning home from the POW camps. Kenneth Beattie brought the parachute home and on September 7, 1946, Lyla wore it as a wedding dress when they married. The decision to use the parachute was sentimental, practical, and resourceful. Not only did the dress symbolize hope and liberation, but it would also have been extremely hard to come by silk at this time – war rationing, shortages, and price inflation would probably have made it nearly impossible to be married in an elaborate wedding gown.
The rows of ribbon on the neck, sleeves and skirt were made from the original ripcords which opened the parachute. The cord was separated thread by thread by family members. The thread was then used to sew the dress which was made completely by hand. The wide strip down the front and the two down the back of the dress were where the ripcords were fastened inside.