Previously published in Examiner
Part 4 of the Rosie the Riveter series
It was the first time in Canada that women were so actively involved in the workforce. At the beginning of the Second World War, there were 11 million people in Canada. There were approximately 600,000 women in the workforce, but by the time the war ended these numbers had jumped to over a million women (1,200,000).
During 1943 – 1944 the breakdown of Canadian women workers was as follows:
Service sector: 439,000 women
Manufacturing: 373,000 women
Construction: 4,000 women
The advantage Canadian women had in specialized fields
Where the physical stature of women was always given as an excuse for why they could not do heavy labour or men’s work in general, their size actually worked to their advantage in factory work. Since women are smaller physically they were able to do very dexterous jobs with precision. This precision was necessary for instrument assembly work , optics, and electronics.
One Canadian women who had nine sons all of which were away from the farm in the war or elsewhere, actually, “drove the tractor, plowed the fields, put up hay, and hauled grain to elevators, along with tending her garden, raising chickens, pigs and turkeys, and canning hundreds of jars of fruits and vegetables.”
Other work Canadian women did during wartime
The women who worked with loggers and lumberjacks were known as “lumberjills.”
World’s first female aircraft designer was a Canadian
Elsie MacGill, known as the Queen of Hurricanes was the very first woman aeronautical engineer in Canada. She was also the world’s first woman aircraft designer. She and her team designed and manufactured the Hurricane combat aircraft.
Canadian women in the Military
Canadian women wanted to be involved in all sectors of the war effort, they were not content to just stay at home to help the cause, though that was an integral part of the women’s war effort and is not to be downplayed. We will discuss the wonderful accomplishments of women at home in Montreal and elsewhere and what they had done to support the war effort in a different section of this series. However, for now we are looking at the women who served in the military first.
To be continued