British war bride turns 100 in Brighton Heights

There were days when Kay Canyock had to wonder if she would live to be 30, let alone 100.

Canyock, who was born June 17, 1920 in Bristol, England, celebrated her centenary at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Brighton Heights where she resides.

On Wednesday she took part in a parade in her honor just outside the house which included Scottish bagpipes and a police motorcycle escort. She was also celebrated with flowers.

“I was given flowers and more flowers and beautiful bouquets,” Canyock said in his distinctive British accent in a telephone interview. “They just brought another bouquet. I like flowers.”

World Wars I and II had a significant impact on his life.

Kay’s mother gave birth at home. They had no doctors available to deliver newborns as they cared for wounded soldiers from World War I, which had ended just 18 months earlier.

World War II caused a lot of death and destruction in England, especially in the city of Bath, where Kay was stationed during the war. The term “Bath Blitz” refers to the numerous air raids of 1942 in which the German Luftwaffe targeted the city.

Kay had various jobs in what was called the Women’s Land Army, which was created during wartime to place women on farms in need of workers. She remembers the green jumpsuit she wore when harvesting potatoes, among other things.

Kay ended up seriously injuring her head, neck and lower spine after falling. Born Kay Searle, she ended up meeting an American soldier hospitalized in Pittsburgh named Joseph Canyok, who was a motorcycle escort for General George Patton.

“He was one of General Patton’s bodyguards and he was shot in the hip,” Kay said. “He was injured in France and had to recover in England. And I was hurt too, so that’s how I met him.

They were presented during a Tea Dance. They fell in love, got engaged and married at St. Michaels and All Angels, which is part of the Church of England.

“My family said to me, ‘You will get married here before you go.’ They tried to bake a wedding cake, but they didn’t succeed because of the (wartime) rationing, ”she recalls.

Joseph returned to the United States but Kay had to wait three years for a visa to join him in Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t come to America on a beautiful ship,” Canyock said. “I came on an oil tanker, and it was horrible. It took nine days to cross the ocean.

When she finally arrived in Pittsburgh, Kay said she didn’t recognize her husband at first.

“Then he saw me and he wrapped me in his arms and brought me home.”

They stayed in Pittsburgh and had three daughters, three grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild. And while Canyock loved her family, she said it took her a while to get used to her new country.

“I didn’t like America at all,” she said. “I didn’t know what ‘okay’ meant. I used to hear people say ‘okay’. And I couldn’t understand when people said “Hi there” and “Give me that” without saying “please.” “

But Canyock seems very comfortable these days. Every afternoon around 4 p.m., she can be found having a real English tea.

“I even have an English teapot.”

She enjoys crispy bacon, plays bingo, and stays physically active, exercising three times a week on an omnicycle under the supervision of a physiotherapist.

Canyock still has a younger sister, aged 96, and lives in France after marrying a French paratrooper during the war. They talk to each other on the phone every Sunday morning at 11:30 am.

“We have a long conversation about the good times, the bad times, the memories and all that. And then she says ‘I’ll call you back at 11:30 am next Sunday morning.’ “

Paul Guggenheimer is an editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]

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