The children were 3 and 1 1/2 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. They had lived in Canada all of their lives. The parents were married and had joint rights of custody. In October 1991 the mother took the children to England, her State of origin, for a two-month holiday.
The father joined the family in England and the parents mutually agreed that they would settle in the United Kingdom. The parents returned to Canada to sort out the practicalities of the intended relocation. The maternal grandparents were designated as temporary guardians of the children in the absence of the parents; the parents signed a document to this effect.
On 12 November 1991 the mother returned to England. On 11 December the father arrived in England. On 11 January 1992 he returned to Canada. On 20 January 1992 the mother applied for custody of the children in England.
On 16 April the father issued an originating summons under the Convention for the return of the children. The father also applied in Ontario for a declaration that the children were habitually resident in that Province. This was refused.