May 7, 1945, was a day Rose Elsegood would long remember, even though she was only twelve. Her teacher had told the class that the war was over, Nazi Germany had surrendered, and lessons were done for the day.
Elsegood joined the excited, cheering children cascading out of schools and into the Toronto streets. “This man in a business suit stopped her ... and asked what was going on,” said Janette Kasperski, Elsegood’s daughter. “She said the war was over, and he threw his briefcase up in the air, and his papers flew all over the place.”
Rose arrived home to see that her family had gathered, and that was when this photograph was taken. She is holding the newspaper that reads, “Peace is here, Nazis give up,” and remembers the house being full of people that night. As neighbours made their way door-to-door to celebrate, her father passed out drinks to all the guests.
For Rose’s sister Eleanor, the end of the war couldn’t have come any sooner. Her boyfriend and future husband, Grant Rowland, had just turned eighteen. If the conflict had continued, he would have gone overseas to fight.
The war had already affected another sister, Evelyn, and her boys, David and Tom. Evelyn’s husband, Thomas Carthew of the Queen’s Own Rifles, spent most of the war overseas, but his sons — seen here on the shoulders of her sister and her brother- in-law — had been too young to remember his departure.
After the war, Rose worked three summers as a farmhand. As men returned, many attended university, leaving farms in need of workers. Women like Rose who took these jobs were called “farmerettes.”
“She would work from June to October and got as much as fifty dollars,” said Kasperski. “She considered herself rich when she had that.”
Submitted by Janette Kasperski, daughter of Rose Elsegood. Text by Steve Ducharme.