Stephen Quick, the new director-general of the Canadian War Museum, teared up as he addressed a group of journalists during the unveiling of the current exhibition World War Women.
Quick was talking about a length of hand-made lace that had been sent to Minnie Jarvis of London, Ontario from her fiancé fighting in Europe during the First World War. Alas, the soldier was killed in battle shortly after mailing the lace. Jarvis kept the lace for 62 years before donating it to the war museum, where it is now on display as part of the World War Women exhibition.
The exhibition is, indeed, moving. This is a display about our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers. About 50,000 of them joined the military. Many more stayed at home, working in munitions factories and harvesting the crops to feed our soldiers and allies.
Artifacts in the exhibition include hand-knitted socks by women on the home front, red aprons used by hundreds of teenage girls who went door to door as Miss Canadas selling war bond stamps, paintings by pioneering war artist Molly Lamb Bobak and the personal stories of the likes of Lorida Landry, a munitions worker fired from her job at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec simply because she got married.
World War Women continues at the Canadian War Museum until April 3. More info, here.
(Cropped image, top: Young women, known as Miss Canadas, sold War Savings Stamps to Canadians on behalf of the government during the Second World War. Barbara McNutt was only eleven when she signed up to canvass in her home town of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. This small Miss Canada apron was her uniform. Barbara McNutt’s Miss Canada uniform, 1945. CWM 20070060-002. Canadian War Museum)