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Memories of Wallis House

When first assigned to HMCS Bytown, the WRENs who arrived were likely surprised to find out that they were to be stationed on a landlocked former seminary! The unique aspects of this circumstance, and the building itself were fondly remembered by many WRENs years later.

In its initial occupation, following the Seminary years, the transformation was quite a job!

Miss Eleanor McCallum recalled making curtains for the windows from leftover dress material, and the necessity of clearing away some of the building’s lovely vines. Spiders had been hiding in them and biting personnel! She also recalls that each WREN was allowed one stuffed animal that could sit on her bed, showing the homier side of things.

Mrs. Ruth Scott was stationed at Wallis House from 1994-1945 and remembered the following:

“There was a rear verandah, known as the ‘quarterdeck,’ requiring the usual salute from all navy personnel. The back yard was an ugly grassless area which served as parade ground, where drills and Sunday parades were held. The ‘quarterdeck’ after dark saw many kissing couples, WRENs returning from dates. I had good-nights ’till the ‘watch’ sternly intervened.”

While the formalities of life with the navy could sometimes get in the way of a kiss after dark, the WRENs were proud to be a part of the navy, and advertised as much:

A brochure from the era emphasized the importance of freeing men up for the fleet.