Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Canadian Women's Roll in War 1939 - 1940

Women's Role In War Remains Feminine One Here
(Canadian Press Staff Writer)
Toronto, Jan. 25

These are full days for the typical Canadian woman. If she isn't knitting pullovers or sewing pneumonia jackets for the Red Cross Society, she is filling a "ditty" bag for sailors, giving alternate Sunday evenings to entertain the air force at suppers or doing special war duties assigned by her own club.
Since 1914 women have won greater freedom---the right to vote, the opportunity to take their place beside men in all professions -but so far in Canada their field of war duty is purely a feminine one-knitting, dewing or nursing.
When war broke out 25 years ago there were a few national women's organizations such as the National Council of Women, the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, and the Victorian Order of Nurses, where women were taking an active part in public problems. Their total membership was less than one-third what it is today.
Women's war efforts were more unified when war began in September. A national drive for registration of women's qualifications for service in national emergencies was already under way. Then machinery started to collect all available offers from coast to coast. These revealed thousands of workers with experience in munition and textile factories, as translators, canteen workers and nurses, who were anxious to give their services.

Ready for War

Remembering the distress caused by the influenza epidemic that followed the first Great War, women all over the country enrolled in home nursing and first aid courses, prepared to go over-seas or work in their own communities.
First major war effort was the sending of tons of clothing and blankets to evacuated children in England. Canadian women over-seas banded together under the direction of Mrs. Vincent Massey, wife of the Canadian high commissioner, and organized the distribution of these supplies and attended to Canadian war work developing on their side of the ocean.
New Red Cross Branches, I.O.D.E. chapters and St. John Ambulance units sprung up in every province. Troop canteens and recreation rooms were opened in most of the large cities and military districts by women's organizations. Sewing groups met in churches, homes, schools and downtown offices to work in their spare time for the men in uniform.

-The Calgary Herald, Thursday January 25, 1940

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