As Union Jacks fluttered over the fireplace and silver spoons clinked against Royal Dalton China, volunteers served delicate, crustless sandwiches and warm scones with clotted cream and thick strawberry jam.
When you listened closely, the hum in the packed living room had a distinct British lilt.
The nine guests of honour, British war brides who had come to Canada immediately following the Second World War, were abuzz with shared memories: how they met and married their distinguished Canadian husband (many at a dance or a picture show), what ship they had sailed on (one did fly to Canada in a Lancaster bomber) and what their thoughts were when they arrived in this vast new land that would be their home.
Their awe of the vastness of their newly adopted homeland, Canada, was palpable even today. Arriving in the bustling seaport of Halifax and then having to take a train for days just to get to the place where they would be making a home for themselves and their husbands was something beyond comprehension.
For many, the destination was a prairie home and the first winter in the land with the endless vista was a shocker. Forty below temperatures and houses buried as the howling winds piled the snow higher and higher were new experiences for these young brides.
With all making their way west eventually, a couple of the war brides actually came straight to Port Alberni after the war. What a train ride that would have been.
Some, like Jenny Stewart, a resident of Ty Watson House, were mere teenagers when they married their Canadian sweetheart. While they had met in Scotland, Jenny's beau was part of the liberation of Holland.
He wrote from Holland to say that he knew that he would be going home to Canada soon and he wanted her to come with him as his bride.
He asked that she answer as soon as possible because "if you say yes, I have things to do."
One of those "things" was to get permission from his commanding officer.
Jenny said "Yes" and they were married in a community church in Scotland while Walter was on leave. He soon left for Canada and six months later, on her 18th birthday, Jenny sailed on the Aquitania to Halifax.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the day came when the war brides joined Sam McKimm in the singing of a few Vera Lynn songs. As the powerful melody of "We will Meet Again" floated out across the room, the tissue box passed through several hands.
While a small commemorative book of their stories will be created for the ladies at the War Brides Tea by the Reflections Committee in the near future, each one left Ty Watson House that day with a memento of a loaf of freshly baked white bread and a flower arrangement in teacup to commemorate an afternoon dedicated to a very unique group of Canada's citizens - the British War Brides.
The Alberni Valley Hospice Society would like to pay special tribute to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 293, and the Alberni Valley Museum for their generous support in making this afternoon delight possible.