Presents for People Who Love the Past

It’s exactly four weeks until Christmas Eve 2014, so here's a list of shopping suggestions for men and women who are fascinated by the unique, exciting, dramatic, never-to-be-repeated World War Two era.

(Note: Since this was published in 2014, some of these items may no longer be available online. Enjoy gathering some ideas, anyway.)

I’ll start with a model Harvard aircraft, just like the one thousands of young airmen learned to fly in wartime. Training aircraft were distinguished by their bright yellow paint. This model costing $69.99 from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Gift Shop in Mount Hope, Ontario would add a spot of sunshine to the office of any wartime buff.

This sleek, handsome, eye-catching water bottle was crafted especially for the Aero Space Museum in Calgary. It is made from recycled materials and costs $25. To order, call 403-250-3752.

From Amazon comes this 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of Rosie the Riveter. An American icon, she was modelled after a Canadian named Veronica Foster, or Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl. To read my previous post about Canadian factory workers, click: Bombshells and Bomb Girls.

This is $19.99 from Amazon’s Canadian site. Click We Can Do It! for buying information.

The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa carries a number of wartime-themed prints and other items in its online gift store. This image called Parachute Riggers was painted in 1947 by Paraskeva Clark. A print can be ordered in three sizes, starting at $24.99. For more information, click: Parachute Riggers.

The online craft store called Etsy carries a number of original 1940s knitting patterns, which can be downloaded for a few dollars. Ladies (or gentlemen), there’s still time to whip up a few vintage-inspired items for that special man or woman on your list! 

Here’s just one example of the popular Fair Isle men’s vest. (I apologize for the name of the black colour.

To purchase the pattern, click: Fair Isle Vest.

This snowflake sweater, with matching mittens and a hat with double points called a Dutch cap, is just darling. Remember in the 1940s when girls wore caps with kitten ears?

To download the pattern, click: Snowflake Sweater.

Vintage-inspired reproduction clothing is back in style, and I love this 1940s style raspberry-coloured dress. You can complete the look with hair flowers, seamed stockings and black pumps.

And for the little aviator in your home, what about this kid’s bomber jacket, which can be ordered in a number of sizes from the Vintage Wings of Canada’s online gift shop for $44.99? Click Vintage Wings for information.

I found this on the Chapters website. A company called Red Canoe makes an authentic RCAF Kit Bag, featuring an embroidered logo and lettering. It's made from heavy cotton with webbed straps and twill body.

This is a brand new item from the Royal Canadian Mint, to commemorate this iconic moment in Canadian history. The original photograph was taken in Vancouver in 1940 by newspaper photographer Claude Dettloff. It captured the touching scene of a five-year-old boy named Warren Bernard running after his father, Private Jack Bernard, as he marches off to war through the streets of New Westminster, British Columbia.

You can read more on a previous blog post about children at war, by clicking: Children on the Home Front.

And by the way, I just purchased from my local Canada Post office a whack of these stamps featuring the original photograph to use on my Christmas cards. I still send Christmas cards, although I receive fewer in return each year, but it's something I plan to keep up as long as I can hold a pen.

You can also order a couple of other beautiful commemorative coins. Almost one million Canadian women worked in factories during World War Two, and their contribution is honoured on this limited edition silver dollar.

The Canadian Army is also honoured on this special two-ounce gold coin portraying a Canadian machine gunner in training, worth $250.

To order any of these three coins, click on Royal Canadian Mint.

Supermarine Spitfires have a special place in the hearts of would-be fighter pilots everywhere, and here is a brass-mounted wallpiece that will keep your man's eye on the clock. It costs $44.99 from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.

The Lancaster bomber received a lot of well-deserved attention this year, when our own Canadian "Vera" was reunited with the only other flying Lanc in the world, "Thumper" in the United Kingdom. To read my previous blog post about this iconic aircraft, click: Love Those Lancasters.

For the Lancaster-lover in your life, gift items abound. The very best gift of all would be a flight in one! Yes, you can book a one-hour flight in the Lancaster shown here, located in Hamilton, Ontario, for just $2,500.

For more information, click: Book a Lancaster Flight.

From the sublime to the ridiculous . . . you have to be a real Lancaster nut to appreciate this gift: a jar of used Lancaster oil! Yep, you can order one from the Lincoln Aviation Centre in England, used oil that comes straight from the bowels of Just Jane, the much-loved Lancaster there, and set it on your mantelpiece. (Just Jane doesn't fly, but you can take a taxi ride in her!)

Maybe you're one of the many people who think the Halifax bomber was every bit as good as the Lancaster, if not better! If so, you can purchase this handsome mug for $25 from the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta. Visit their online gift shop for this and other great gift ideas by clicking: Bomber Command Museum.

For the man or woman in your life who believes that Winston Churchill's leadership won the war, there are still many commemorative Churchill souvenirs around, like this handsome set of bronze bookends for 2,300 English pounds!

Or perhaps you would like something smaller and lighter, like this odd-looking Winston Churchill Toby Jug. The handle of the mug is an RAF flyer.

If you really want to go all-out on the wartime theme, this company offers a full party package! Here’s the description:

“Guests will arrive through a realistic sand bag bunker entrance, manned by two armed guards. Making their way to the reception area, guests will be presented with drinks by uniformed 1940s officers and cigarette glamour girls.

"To set the scene, searchlights will play across the sky. A newspaper seller will hand out facsimile newspapers. Sound effects include an air raid warning siren. The props include banners of an overhead Spitfire and blitzed London terraced house. Union Jack bunting and 1940s posters will cover the walls.

"On each place setting is a small Union Jack and a song sheet. Food is served on enamel plates with drinks in enamel mugs. The menu is a ration card with dried egg and spam crossed out and replaced by unheard-of luxuries. After dinner, the Ritz ballroom opens with a demonstration of old time dancing followed by some jitterbugging from a lively swing band."

I think you could probably create this theme party on your own! Here's a photo of someone's front door, decked out for the party with sandbags and camouflage netting. To find out more, click: Wartime Party.

I own this Vera Lynn CD, and it has brought me many hours of listening pleasure for just a few dollars. And it would fit perfectly into someone’s stocking!

To order, click: We'll Meet Again.

Finally, I can't pass up the chance to suggest a copy of my own newly-released novel, Bird's Eye View, about a young Saskatchewan woman who goes overseas, joins the air force, and becomes an interpreter of aerial photographs. Here are a few comments from reviews posted on Amazon:

  • I loved, loved, loved this book. It combines several of my favorite topics . . .WWII, women during the war, Western Canadian fiction. I don't think I have ever before read a Canadian WWII novel featuring a female protagonist, and it's about time someone wrote one.

  • So well written that I saw the movie in my mind while reading. War stories are very poignant and this one is no exception - I felt like crying a couple of times. Excellent read!

  • I loved this book and have nothing bad to say about it. I highly recommend it to lovers of WWII historical fiction. You'll laugh, cry, and learn something to boot. It doesn't get better than that.

Bird's Eye View is available through any bookstore. It's also available online as a paperbook, ebook or audiobook.

Bird's Eye View

  • Bird’s Eye View is my fact-based novel about a Saskatchewan farm girl who joins the air force and becomes an aerial photo interpreter in World War Two. This Canadian best-seller is available through any bookstore, and also as an e-book and an audiobook. To purchase online, click here: Bird's Eye View.


  • Wildwood is my contemporary novel about a young woman from the city who inherits an abandoned farm in northern Alberta, on condition that she and her little daughter live there for one year, off the grid. She is inspired by the diary she finds in the house, written by the original homesteader. Wildwood is available through any bookstore, and also as an e-book. To purchase online, click here: Wildwood.

My Favourite Veterans

Letters From Windermere

  • To subscribe to my new monthly blog which started in 2019, titled Letters From Windermere, describing my writing life, travels and hobbies, enter your email address in the small yellow box under "Subscribe By Email" at the top right-hand side of this page.‚Äč

Wartime Wednesdays

  • All my Wartime Wednesdays stories written from 2013 to 2018 are available to read on my website, indexed by subject and title. To see the complete list, click here: Wartime Wednesdays.

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