This year for Remembrance Day, Vermilion’s Elsie Sinden, was remembering her late husband as a WWII veteran, and her late father-in-law as a WWI veteran.
During WWI, her father-in-law, Sgt William Frederick Sinden, had been at Vimy Ridge and while in France had sent his invitation for a Vimy Ridge Dinner for the 10th Canadian Infantry Brigade home as well as a letter. The letter sent to his wife in 1916 states that after receiving some rest, he expects to soon be sent to the firing line again.
Leaving four children in Canada, W.F. Sinden separated from his wife as he met someone else in France whom he later brought back to Canada.
His son, Cecil Maxwell Sinden, attended a convent school and a country school near Battleford. With ongoing struggles at home, he was later housed in a neighbouring brick farm house.
“When I met Cecil, my twin sister and I were chumming and singing and the next time I met him, he took to me. We went together off and on, and he wanted to get away from farming so he joined up with a group that sang in tents and he was going to go down east with his guitar. Knowing his dad was in Winnipeg working in the grain industry, he stopped in there while riding the rails in a box car.
Seeing his dad’s name on the door, he walked in. His dad gave him some money to go buy clothes and he continued on East. He got to know his step-sister, and later came back West. When the war started he wanted to get into it.
As long as you had Grade 8 you could join. My brother took him to the school and he challenged an exam and got into the Air Force,” said Elsie.
When she and Cecil married on December 31, 1941, he was already serving. She was in Vancouver, and he was sent to the Aleutian Islands because that’s where the Japanese were.
“He was mechanically inclined and worked on a round crew, but did get to go up in the planes,” said Elsie.
Later after he had been away over a year, she travelled back to Vermilion on the train with two small children. Her dad worked at Craig’s department Store, and he heard about Co-op needing someone so she worked there while her mom looked after the children. She was a buyer and went to a wholesaler in Edmonton by bus to select ladies wear, needles and thread, tea towels, etc.
“I loved shoes, and the owner, Mr. Weisler would always say, ‘Elsie, did you get yourself a dress?’ One day we were told he was going to take us out for dinner in his Rolls-Royce. I had never been out to dinner in a restaurant. My husband was jealous because he really liked cars. Later she went on to work at the Steven’s Department Store and when Cecil came back from the war he got a job at Webb’s garage,” said Elsie.
Her father decided to get a store called Vermilion Food Lockers. She explained that there were no freezers in those days, so farmers came into town to get what pieces of meat they wanted. My dad was 12-years-old when he came from Germany, and his family’s sausage recipe was found and used to sell at the meat counter. The lockers were marked with all of the cuts that were in each one. When freezers became more popular the lockers dwindled and it was turned in to a Tomboy store carrying more groceries.
“I worked most of my life up until 1965,” said Elsie who also volunteered with the Rebecca Lodge and the Legion.
Each year following Remembrance Day, Elsie keeps her poppies and lines her jewellery box as a way to remember those near and dear to her.