Canadian woman retraces grandmother’s footsteps in London

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News

Carly Butler, 27, recently left her home in Windsor, Ontario, to retrace her grandmother's footsteps in London, England.

Butler's grandmother, Irene Wiebe, was a war bride, and waited for seven long months to be reunited with her husband, a Canadian soldier, after the end of World War II. Her love letters to her husband, Nick, were discovered after her death.

"It brought her back to life for us," Butler said of the letters. "We could feel her spirit. We could giggle about some of the things she said. She always had that British accent that everybody was so curious about. She was very bubbly and bold. Reading them brought that back."

"She was waiting for her papers, because she was a British war bride," Butler told the Windsor Star. "So they were married but apart for seven months."

Wiebe wrote 104 letters during those seven months.

Butler is now using those letters to recreate Wiebe's daily life in London. She'll visit her grandmother's old home, the cinema she frequented, the subway line she used and the city hall where she wed — and she'll attempt to line up those visits with the dates on the letters sent 67 years ago.

She hopes to return to Canada on the Queen Mary II, as Irene made her voyage on the original RMS Queen Mary. She'll leave England on July 19th, the same date her grandmother emigrated.

Butler will even experience her grandmother's exasperation with a long-distance romance, as she'll be awaiting a reunion with her own husband-to-be, Adam.

Butler does have a long-distance advantage her grandmother didn't: Skype.

Butler, who took out a loan and is raising additional funds to support her trip, is hoping to turn her London adventures into a book.

She is chronicling her travels at

"The reason I get so excited about it is this is something only I can tell," said Butler. "It's unique. Not a lot of people have this, the gift of these letters. It's almost like I have to. It's part of keeping this history alive."

Wiebe and her husband, Nick, were happily married for more than 50 years. They had a son and a daughter and several grandchildren, the Daily Mail reported.