Canada and England connected by Dieppe

Dieppe was the port of departure of William the Conquerer in 1066. Photo: TES.

The relationship between Dieppe (Normandy, France) and England has always been tumultuous. It was the unification of the Duchy of Normandy and the Kingdom of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 that led to centuries of trade, wars, piracy, prosperity, decline and English tourism, sea-bathing and English colony in the nineteenth century. Dieppe had become, like the rest of Normandy, French in 1204, was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War until 1431, was bombed to ruins by a combined English-Dutch fleet in 1694, occupied by the Germans in 1940, raided by an Anglo-Canadian force on August 19th 1942, and liberated by the same Canadian division on 2 September 1944.

The story of Dieppe is also part of English and Canadian  history. An English company built the railway that connected Paris with Normandy and Dieppe in 1848. Many English tourists wanted a faster journey to Paris. English business men set up firms and a dock was built for commercial ships and yachts. More and more English people became attracted by the way of life and the lower costs of living and a genuine british community was created, including English villas, shops and an Anglican congregation. One of the first golf courses in France opened in 1897 and horse racing and badminton became common sports in Dieppe. Only cricket didn’t make it.

Dieppe became the new Brighton and hotel, bathing and casino establishments succeeded each other. The French aristocracy and high society should follow soon. Dieppe attracted also a large number of French and English artists. Walter Sickert, William Turner and (the Irish) Oscar Wilde are just a few examples.

From the middle of the 18th century Dieppe, Brighton and New Haven were linked by a regular maritime service and a ferry service to New Haven still exists. It was a sad homecoming for some British and many French-Canadians on 19 August 1942 . Many of them never returned, but rest in Dieppe forever. They symbolize the links between Dieppe, England and Canada (Source and further information: www.dieppe.fr).