Last week I had the pleasure of taking part in a private tour of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa with a group of Members of Parliament. The tour included the museum's permanent exhibits as well as a walk through their current special exhibit, World War Women, with one of its creators. The museum and its contents probably rank among my top five favorite things on planet earth, and it was a great excuse to finally see the new exhibit! The nature of the group and tours meant that I was unable to take any photos to share with you, but I thought I'd share some interesting facts about the exhibit along with images courtesy of the Canadian War Museum.
Here's the official description:
"The First and Second World Wars brought enormous changes to Canadian women’s lives. They adapted to the conditions of total war in practical terms – working, volunteering and serving in uniform. In the wake of war’s inevitable tragedies, they also faced other challenges. The contributions made by women to the Canadian war efforts were crucial, and their experiences forged a new understanding of women’s capabilities both within themselves and within society.
Through artifacts, images, audiovisual material, oral history and text, World War Women delves into the personal stories of the women associated with these materials. It is organized in stand-alone thematic zones, each devoted to an element of the wars that particularly involved and affected women."
These 'zones' are dedicated to each of the areas in which women contributed to the war effort. For example, there is a section for women who worked in factories, ones who served as nurses, ones who served in Women's Divisions overseas, and all around the outside are little windows into the lives of women who wrote and received letters to and from loved ones who were fighting. At the end, we found ourselves in a room plastered with propaganda posters which gave a sense of how inundated women were at home with instructions to ration, save waste, buy war bonds, not spread any important secrets, and do their duties. It was a powerful ending to a truly moving experience!
Here are some of my favorite featured ladies:
|Library and Archives Canada / e010785939|
Another interesting story which unfortunately does not have an image is that of Minnie Jarvis from London, Ontario. While her fiancé was fighting in Europe during the First World War, he sent her a length of handmade lace. Sadly, he was killed shortly after, and Minnie kept the lace in its original envelope for 62 years before donating it to the War Museum.
|CWM 20070060-002. Canadian War Museum|
Finally, some interesting facts about Canadian women at war (some might sound familiar if you're a regular reader!):
|Personnel of the Canadian Women's Army Corps at No. 3 CWAC, collectionscanada|
|Canadian War Museum|
|Department of National Defense|
|Women's Division, 1942, No. 1 Technical Training School, St. Thomas, Ontario|
|Defence Industries Limited, Ajax, Ontario|
|Women soldering and assembling cables for airplanes, Canadian Car and Foundry Co., 1945.|
Special thanks to the Canadian War Museum for the information and images (unless otherwise labelled). The exhibit remains open until April 3rd so if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend experiencing it while it's still here!
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)