1945 Didy Woolgar, War Bride

In November of 1946 Mayfair Magazine began a series of articles on Canadian war brides and introduced this series with an article on Didy Woolgar, a fascinating woman who made Yellowknife her home (map).

Born into a wealthy Czechoslovakian family in 1914 Didy studied art in Lausanne, Vienna and Dresden. In August of 1938 she married a Canadian named William Stuart who worked in Czechoslovakia for the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Immigration Department

At the onset of the Second World War Didy and her husband fled Czechoslovakia. William Stewart then joined the Consular Service and unfortunately, as a volunteer on a special mission for British Intelligence, he was killed.

At the time of her husband’s death Didy was employed at Canada House in Cairo, Egypt. As it wasn’t possible for Didy to return to Czechoslovakia she had little choice but to continue with her work in Egypt. This is where she met RCAF Flight Lieutenant Jake Woolgar who, before the war, had been a pilot and prospector in the Northwest Territories.

Jake eventually proposed and Didy agreed not only to marry him but to go north into the Canadian wilderness and live in the then tiny mining community of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

The couple were married August 10th, 1945 by Yellowknife’s Justice of the Peace who performed the ceremony in the parlour of the Yellowknife liquor store!

Mayfair Magazine picked Didy Woolgar to introduce their war bride series because it seemed impossible that a woman born on a large country estate and who had studied art at some of Europe’s best schools could find happiness, back in 1946, in the Canadian north.

They began the piece by stating “If you have a husband given to spells of moody longing for the rugged simplicity of pioneer life, or for the mineral wealth which is said to jump out of the Canadian earth whenever you poke it in the right places, have no misgivings. For wives can be happy in the wilderness too!”

Didy Woolgar found happiness by immersing herself in everything northern – prospecting, flying, hunting, canoeing, snowshoeing, and fishing – but mostly it was her art that made her happy. Each summer Didy would spend up to six weeks on the Barrens and while her husband prospected she would paint watercolours of northern flowers and plants.

During the 1950s she produced hundreds of exquisite watercolours many of which were exhibited in Ottawa and New York. Several of Didy’s pieces were even presented to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Didy Woolgar remarried and moved to Ottawa in the 70s. She died June 9th, 2002. One of Didy’s 2 granddaughters still resides in Yellowknife.