It’s May 1945, and the northern part of the Netherlands has just been liberated from Nazi occupation.
Henderika Arends was just a young woman, but her world changed when she met a Canadian soldier: Kings County resident Charles Richmond Gould, who was stationed as a cook in the area.
Arends and Gould soon started to date. Each day, Arends would wait for him after work and he would walk her home, where her family welcomed him with open arms.
Eventually, the pair became engaged and planned for Arends to follow Gould to Canada after he was sent home. For two years, they wrote to each other faithfully, until Arends broke off the engagement. Her mother simply couldn’t let her daughter go to Canada.
Saying goodbye to her Canadian soldier broke Arends’ heart, making her quite ill, said Geralde Reesor-Grooters, a correspondent for Memories - a Dutch television show that tries to reunite people with lost friends and loved ones.
Sadly, there will be no happy reunion for Arends and Gould: he died more than a decade ago. However, Arends is still hoping to track down family members or friends who can tell her about his life after their split.
After making the difficult decision to break things off with Gould, Arends did end up happily married, but her husband passed away in 1969. She didn’t go looking for her long-lost love at that point because she worried she would be disturbing the life he had built.
“Her first love, Charles, has never left Henderika’s thoughts,” said Reesor-Grooters.
Now 95, Arends still lives in the Netherlands, but memories of Gould come more and more to the forefront as she gets older.
“She still wonders what became of him,” Reesor-Grooters said.
Searching for information
Reesor-Grooters has been doing the legwork in Canada to find information about Gould for Arends. So far, she has been able to track down some people who knew him, but no one who knew about his lost love.
Better known as Charlie, Gould married late in life and had no children. Arends originally corresponded to him in Halifax, but, at some point, he moved back to Kings County and settled in Black Rock. He was a cook at an army base until his retirement – most likely Greenwood – and was an avid gardener. He is remembered for sharing vegetables with neighbours and even got an extra plot of land to grow more vegetables to share.
He also loved to play cards and darts and was associated with the Berwick Legion.
Gould died May 16, 2001, about a year-and-a-half after his wife did.
“We would like to piece together some information for Henderika,” said Reesor-Grooters. “Does anyone know Charlie? From the legion, the army base, as a neighbour, or otherwise? Any information, no matter how small, can help us piece together the puzzle. Pictures, especially, would be helpful, as we don’t have any, other than their 1945 engagement picture.”
Anyone with information can email Reesor-Grooters at email@example.com or call 905-642-6130.