Tag Archives: Remembrance Day

Women in the Canadian Armed Forces

By: Valerie Chalmers

Throughout Canadian history women have actively participated in war from the home front to the front lines. The percentage of women in the Canadian Armed Forces (Regular Force and Primary Reserve combined), the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Army range between 12.4% and 18.4%. Women enrollment in the CAF sits below 20% for a variety of reasons. The CAF have implemented a variety of initiatives for employment equity and earlier this year the Canadian Armed Forces launched a program to give women the opportunity to learn about military life before they decide to join.

“War has impacted Canadian women’s lives in different ways, depending on their geographical location, and their racial and economic status. Pre-20th-century conflicts had great impact on women in Canada — Aboriginal women in particular — whose communities could be dispossessed and devastated by colonial militaries. Women were interned in Canada during wartime — that is, detained and confined — because their background could be traced to enemy states.” – The Canadian Encyclopedia

Canadian women have had a consistent presence throughout the various wars our country has been involved in. During both the First and Second World Wars women organized home defence, trained in rifle shooting and military drill. In 1941, 50,000 women enlisted in the air force, army and navy. Throughout different divisions they were trained for clerical, administrative and support roles as well as cooks, nurses and seamstresses. Women’s involvement expanded when they began to work as parachute riggers, laboratory assistants, drivers and within the electrical and mechanical trades. Women also worked to maintain our home economy by volunteering inside and outside of the country, producing and conserving food, raising funds for hospitals, ambulances, hostels and aircrafts. Women have made considerable contributions to Canada’s military efforts, despite this it wasn’t until 1989 where all military positions were opened to women.

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Getting To Know You Questions – Remembrances

In November, our blog is all about remembrances. Our bloggers were given the six questions below. Get to know our Ladies and find out what their take is on memories!
  1. How do you want to be remembered?
  2. Finish this sentence: My favourite childhood memory is…
  3. Can you share with us the one person you will always remember, and why.
  4. Finish this sentence: If only I remembered to ….
  5. This November 11th Remembrance Day we pay tribute to those women and men past and present that served and continue to serve our country.  As a fellow human being, what does their sacrifice mean to you?
  6. If you could only remember three moments in your life, what would they be?



How do you want to be remembered?

I’d like to be remembered as creative and resilient, as well as generous and helpful.

Finish this sentence: My favourite childhood memory is…

…going to Sherkston every summer.

Can you share with us the one person you will always remember, and why.

I will always remember my father because he was an entertaining character who taught me the love of music.

KaitlynKaitlyn Samways

How do you want to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered for being kind, compassionate and choosing to make a difference. I hope that I will be able to inspire others to do the same.

Finish this sentence: If only I remembered to…

…write that down.

This November 11th Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to those women and men, past and present, that served and continue to serve our country. As a fellow human being, what odes their sacrifice mean to you?

The sacrifice that men and women have made, and continue to make, means that we have an obligation to live with value and honour in our own lives. We have access to all the information to make informed and ethical decisions; we have the ability to know how our decisions impact anything else on the planet; we must choose the path that has the greatest positive effect and does the least damage. We have a responsibility to make sacrifices as well.


How do you want to be remembered?

I thought of so many ways to answer this, but the fact is I only need tMEo be remembered as a great mom. The impression I leave with others will always be important, but ultimately, it’s the imprint I leave on my son’s existence which will define me.

Finish this sentence: My favourite childhood memory is…

Christmas. The presents were nice of course but, for me, it was all about the quality time. It was the one time of year we all disconnected from the rest of the world and made it just about us.

This November 11th Remembrance Day we pay tribute to those women and men past and present that served and continue to serve our country.  As a fellow human being, what does their sacrifice mean to you?

For me, it translates most clearly into respect. The idea of living a life where your loved ones don’t come home from war is so outside of my framework of understanding that I think about it with awe. Awe for their sacrifice, and their courage, and awe for the strength of those left behind to keep going. I don’t know how I would fare in those circumstances, and have nothing but respect for those who have endured.


How do you want to be remembered?

With love, affection and over the sharing of a great joke.

Finish this sentence: My favourite childhood memory is…

My mom and older sister volunteered on Saturday’s at the St. Catharines General Hospital – so one of my favourite childhood memories is dropping them off at the hospital and then going to Montebello park with my younger sister and my Dad.  We played on the now very dangerous park swings and twirl and whirl for hours.  Then he took us to MacDonald’s on Ontario Street for lunch and we watched the rowers (it was all open to the water below at that time) and talked about everything and nothing.  This, a treasured memory you ask…..my family never ate fast food, everything was prepared from scratch, so and I know this now sounds odd, but fast food was such a treat, and the time with our Dad’s undivided attention, priceless.  To this day, I still smile when I eat those fries….such a great memory!

Finish this sentence: If only I remembered to ….

Keep my opinions to myself, unless asked.  I am working on it, and now realize it doesn’t count when I ask them “But, would you like to hear my opinion?”!

This November 11th Remembrance Day we pay tribute to those women and men past and present that served and continue to serve our country.  As a fellow human being, what does their sacrifice mean to you?

Where there is battle, or a tragic event of a monumental scale, there are those people that run from it to safety and then, there are those people that run towards it.  For all those people that run towards it, I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice of that choice.


How do you want to be remembered?

As someone who made positive change for our generation, to make it a better world for the next generation.

Finish this sentence: My favourite childhood memory is…

…my first Christmas in Canada. My family immigrated to Canada in the fall of 1959. My aunt and uncle wanted me to visit for a week in Windsor just before Christmas . I had never seen Christmas lights before. I remember sitting in the back seat  as my uncle drove through town. The entire town was covered in snow and  lit up with huge coloured lights that looked like huge gumdrops. It was a magical scene that has brought back fond memories for me, of my first Christmas in Canada .

If you could only remember three moments in your life, what would they be?

That exquisite moment when I first held each of my three children in my arms after they were born.

Lest we forget…Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Niagara

At our October Blogger’s Meeting, planning for the November posts was underway and I wholeheartedly volunteered to look up and prepare a post that would inform anyone reading our blog where this year’s Remembrance Day Ceremonies were taking place throughout Niagara.  Easy, peasy I thought, this should take all of two minutes as the information will be right at my finger tips !

poppy-353699_640What I thought would be a very easy search on the websites of the City of St. Catharines, City of Niagara Falls, City of Welland and Town of Fort Erie, unfortunately took a lot longer than expected – if I found it at all, and left me feeling a little saddened at the lack of history.

Top acknowledgement to the City of St. Catharines  – Had it in the running banner, and it was a quick search to find a nice introduction and the following information:

Every year on Nov. 11 Canadians come together for Remembrance Day to reflect and acknowledge the men and women who served or continue to serve their country during times of war, conflict and peace.

During a moment of silence at 11 a.m. Canadians remember and honour the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for our country. The City of St. Catharines observes Remembrance Day at City Hall Nov. 11 by laying wreaths at the Honour Rolls and the Watson Memorial before joining the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 at the Cenotaph at Memorial Park on St. Paul Street West.

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 Remembrance Day Ceremony

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24 will hold its annual Remembrance Day ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Schedule of Events

Time Event
9:55 a.m. Parade will form along Church Street in front of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24.
10:10 a.m. Procession will leave the Legion and travel west along Church Street to City Hall. Wreaths will be placed at the Honour Rolls and the Watson Memorial at City Hall and the Last Post will be sounded.
10:30 a.m. Procession continues west on Church Street to Ontario Street, south on Ontario Street and west onto St. Paul Street West, stopping at Cenotaph Memorial Park. There will be a police escort at the start and end of the procession, but there will be no road closures.
10:45 a.m. Commemorative Service held at Memorial Park Cenotaph.
11 a.m. Two minutes of silence will be observed.


Other Remembrance Day Ceremonies

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 350

57 Lakeport Rd. Sunday, Nov. 9 10:30 a.m. to noon – Service and parade

Royal Canadian Legion Polish Veterans Branch 418

294 Vine St. Sunday, Nov. 9 Noon – Service

In second place, comes the City of Welland, scrolling down on their Home page, I found the following link to an invitation to the Annual Remembrance Day Service – below:

 You are cordially invited to attend the



Sunday, November 2, 2014

Parade and Ceremony

When: November 2, 2014, 1:45 pm

Where: Chippawa Park Cenotaph, First Avenue, Welland



The service will begin at 10:45 am (approx.).

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 4 invites everyone to attend this service. Due to the limited time available, only the service will be performed. All speeches and presentations will have already taken place at Chippawa Park on Sunday, November 2. Morningstar Avenue will be blocked to traffic by 10:30 am. It is advisable to arrive before then or use the back entrance off of Ontario Road.





In third comes the Town of Fort Erie – quick link on their home page brought me to the info below:

Rememberance Day Parade

Date: 11/09/2014
Sunday November 9, 2014. Parade from Legion to Cenotaph for Service then parade back to Legion Branch 71, corner of Garrison and Central Ave. Parade starts at 2 p.m.

Sadly, in last place I have to put the City of Niagara Falls – see below:

No results found for my search.

Surprisingly enough they had a feature on the home page about the 1812 Bicentennial Celebration taking place February 2015.  Did I miss something?  If there are ceremonies going on in Niagara Falls – please send us the information – we’d be happy to post it.

Tuesday, November 11th is Remembrance Day, if you are in St. Catharines, I may see you at the Commemorative Service held at the Cenotaph, as the YWCA lays a wreathe in memory and thanks to the many men and women that fought for, and continue to fight our freedom.

Update Before Post Deadline:  Just got an email, and checked it out – the Regional Municipality of Niagara’s website came through big time and provided the list of Remembrance Day Services – throughout the Region.  Sharing with everyone below:

On November 11, remember those men and women who served and sacrificed to protect the freedom that we graciously enjoy today.

All regional offices will be open on November 11 except for the Provincial Offences Court.

 Remembrance Day Services in Niagara Region

The following is a list of services in Niagara region. There may be other services in your community that are not listed here.

City / Town Address Date Start Time
Fort Erie Mather Arch 130 Garrison Rd. Nov. 9, 2014 1 p.m.
Ridgeway Cenotaph 228 South Mill St. Nov. 11, 2014 11 a.m.
Stevensville Hall 2508 Stevensville Rd. Nov. 9, 2014 2 p.m.
Grimbsy Grimsby Cenotaph 233 Elizabeth St. Nov. 11, 2014 11 a.m.
Niagara Falls Gale Centre 4171 Fourth Ave. Nov. 11, 2014 11 a.m.
Niagara-on-the-Lake St. Mark’s Church 41 Byron St. Nov. 11, 2014 Noon
Pelham Centennial Park 999 Church St. Nov. 9, 2014 8:30 a.m.
Old Pelham Town Hall 491 Canboro Rd. Nov. 11, 2014 11 a.m.
Port Colborne
  1. H. Knoll Path Cenotaph H. H. Knoll Lakeview Park
Nov. 11, 2014 10:45 a.m.
St. Catharines Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 24) Church St. Nov. 11, 2014 9:55 a.m.
Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 350) 57 Lakeport Rd. Nov. 9, 2014 10:30 a.m.
Royal Canadian Legion (Polish Veterans Branch 418) 294 Vine St. Nov. 9, 2014 Noon
Thorold Royal Canadian Legion 3 Ormond St. S. Nov. 9, 2014 1 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion (Memorial Park) 20 Chapel St. S. Nov. 11, 2014 10:30 a.m.
Welland Royal Canadian Legion 363 Morningstar Ave. Nov. 11, 2014 10:45 a.m.
West Lincoln Royal Canadian Legion 172 St. Catharines St. Nov. 11, 2014 10:45 a.m.

If you know of additional public ceremonies you’d like see added to this page, send them to us now.

Thank you.

Images courtesy of Google

Question of the Month – Ancestry

Thoughts during the month of November often turn to Remembrance Day, perhaps more poignantly so this year in particular. For a lot of Canadians, that means remembering soldiers – many of them our Parents or Grandparents. But one of the most wonderful things about Canada, and I think, something that now in fact defines Canadian Culture, is our unique ability to welcome people from all corners of the world. One look at the sea of restaurants and festivals that occur in Toronto, for example, clearly shows how much Canada has incorporated traditional cultures that were not our own. I’m curious to know what new meaning Remembrance Day takes on for those who perhaps do not celebrate it in their own culture? What if you are say, German? or Vietnamese?

This month our Bloggers explore the dynamics between our ancestry and our perception and interpretation of memories and events. With those thoughts of memory and remembrance on our minds we ask:

 How has your culture and ancestry shaped who you are?

Opinion #1

cateGrowing up in the suburbs of Stoney Creek, Ontario (right before Hamilton), I remember that my principal desire was to be Italian. My parents immigrated to Canada from the Philippines around the 1980’s and settled in a town that is primarily made up of Europeans, especially Italians and Croatians. Though the Filipino population was  prominent in Downtown Hamilton, there were very few Filipinos in Stoney Creek – other than my relatives.

Having been surrounded by Europeans throughout my elementary school years – looking and feeling overtly different than all of my peers – I realized that all I wanted was to fit in with every one else. I didn’t want to have dark hair or tanned skin. I was embarrassed when my parents would speak their native language to me when we were in public. I thought the other kids were disgusted by the Filipino foods that my parents packed for my lunch, so I begged them to start buying the Canadian or American foods such as deli meat or pizza pockets. Everything about my childhood seemed so different in comparison to my European friends, and I loathed every bit of it, back then.

Lumpia, a Filipino spring roll, is one of my favourites!

I thought that my parents didn’t understand my troubles but over the years and well into my high school days, they started speaking Filipino less and less in public. And in our household, they less frequently cooked traditional Filipino foods, and finally, resolved to let me pack my own lunch.

Now, as I approach the end of my university career, I realize how much I miss the things related to my culture. Now, I wish I were still different from every one else. As a little kid and as a teenager, I just wanted to fit in but now; I just want to stand out. Though I still have my dark hair, my tanned skin, and I am partially bi-lingual, I wish I hadn’t pushed away my culture so much when I was younger. Though there are things that I still hold on to, such as cooking or baking certain Filipino foods, practicing our traditions, and wearing chinelas (translation: slippers – a Filipino practice) around the house, I wish I had welcomed my culture more.

My family and I have somewhat assimilated into the Western culture, but we are still different. Wishing that I had more of my culture to share with others, I realize that my Filipino background has shaped who I am now, because the things that I still practice and cherish today are the ones that have stuck out to be the most important. Being able to speak and understand a language other than English is amazing. Being able to cook foods that other people go to restaurants to eat is rewarding. Being able to say that I am first Filipino, second Canadian, is priceless. cate2

Opinion #2

When considering your identity as an individual, it is not uncommon to attricottagebute at least part of who you are to your ancestry and as an Italian- Irish Canadian, I know all too well about the “old country”. And while I might never get to pick my own olives or live in a thatched roof house, the cultural traditions of my grandparents and many other immigrants were not lost on the boat ride to Canada.

For starters, something as simple as greetings can definitely cause anxiety due to such a broad variety of meanings to so many Canadians. While I can only speak to my own heritage, if you were expecting to visit my Italian side of the family, you should probably prepare yourself to embrace and kiss at least 50 strangers relatives on either cheek immediately upon arrival. However, if you were to start kissing my Irish side of the family, you would most likely encounter quiet whispers and stunned glances. And I am sure everyone knows that cultural differences do not stop at greetings.


For instance, look at how different a celebration such as Thanksgiving would look at different homes throughout Canada. While most of us celebrate with a turkey, at an Italian Thanksgiving you can expect to see lots and lots of wine lamb and at least one pasta dish on the menu. Alternatively, my Greek friends tell me that Thanksgiving often includes lots and lots of ouzo some form of souvlaki with baklava for dessert in exchange of the usual pumpkin pie.

For these and so many other reasons, I think Canada is very special because it offers us an opportunity to experience such a large number of cultures simply through our friends and family. And perhaps this speaks to our tolerance towards culture as we do not require immigrants to immediately assimilate and renounce their heritage, but rather we celebrate it. Especially in the wake of the events in Ottawa and with Remembrance Day fast approaching, we seimagese a nation pulling together to honour those who have fought for our freedom. A nation pulling together not in spite of cultural differences, but rather because of cultural differences. And though I may sport an Italia jersey during World Cup, at the end of the day I am very proud to be a Canadian.


Remembrance Day: Women War Machines

Everyone loves a man in uniform. Even married, you won’t see me turning down the chance at a double-take when a Canadian soldier walks down the street or comes across the screen of the TV. Besides the obvious yummy and salacious reasons, I drool because the uniform represents a set of appealing principals including courage and self-sacrifice that should be gawked at and revered no matter the campaign that soldier fights for.

The stereotypical man in uniform is changing. More and more, those uniforms are worn on empowered shoulders of women fighting for our country in the same combat fatigues, toting the same gun and focused stare as the men beside them, but this was not always the way. Like in many other facets of life, women have been fighting for years for the chance to prove they can stay strong in the trenches with the “big boys” and lead on in victory regardless of their sex but only recently was this become a more common image in times of war.

Supporting roles are immeasurable when considering the alternative without them. Before World War 1, women were told their place was in the home with an affixed apron and dishpan hands. When times changed and men were drafted to the front lines, the loss of man power granted the preconceived “fairer sex” the opportunity to prove their capabilities surpassed universal gender roles.
Without the man of the house, how did the farming get done? Who worked the line of munitions factories? Women did. They were the conducting war machines behind the scenes making battle on the front lines possible. And not only did they lace up steel toes to forge ammunition shells for $9 a week, they donated their pots and pans and household items, including their hair curlers, to the factories to be recycled into scrap metal to create guns and military vehicles and made due with the bare necessities like rolled tissue to keep their hair perfectly curled while doing it.

On top of factory work, Nursing Sisters (women from religious organizations) and other women trained with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance to become nurses, some travelling overseas, 200 of them receiving medals for bravery as they risked their lives in field hospitals.

In times where men were gone, politics never stopped and with suffragist movements made by women like Margaret Gordon of Ontario in 1917, the fight for equal rights led to extreme measures of protest across train tracks and hunger strikes, all leading to the Wartime Election Act giving mothers, sisters, wives and wartime nurses the right to vote, paving the way for women in parliament by 1920.

All possible because women saw opportunity and refused to stand down when ordered.

When conflict brought Canada into World War 2, British Columbia started a Women’s Service Corp trained in auxiliary roles doing first aid, clerical and administrative duties as well as motor mechanics in factories. Ontario and other provinces created much of the same called The Women’s Volunteer Reserve Corps as well as an Auxiliary Territorial Service. Across Canada these women were purely volunteer and on their own time learned Morse code, signalling and map reading, infantry drill, arms drill and physical conditioning.

Joan Kennedy from BC was the driving force against Ottawa to include women when considering war needs and in 1941 the creation of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps had thousands of women in supportive roles like many had during WW1. Displaying their uniforms and insignia with the helmeted visage of Athena, the Goddess of War, they were brimming with pride yet still jilted their ranks never equalled that of men’s, they only received 2/3 the wages ($0.90 to men’s $1.30/day), and were not permitted to conduct guard duty or other roles deemed too hazardous for women.

After the army, the snowball effect took over and air force created the ‘Royal Canadian Air Force – Women’s Division’ where 17,000 women were not permitted to fly though served on flight decks with the slogan “We serve the men that fly”, and the Navy created the ‘Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Services’ where 7,000 women completed clerical tasks, were radar and coding techs on ships excluding submarine work and worked as cooks as well as nurses.

Women’s Institutes across the country created cookbooks outlining recipes that could be created with the limited rations each family were afforded, city women were encouraged to help out with the harvest of local farms, canning clubs canned fruits and vegetables to keep up with the demand, everyone pitching in to serve community even if serving with a gun at the heads of their enemy was impossible.

On the flipside, not everyone was overjoyed with the evolution of the face of war including female features and a drop in enrollment occurred when word went round that only “loose women” joined the forces. As much as the army advertised otherwise with famous colourful ads still circulated today, these judgements were not merely from men, but from traditionalist women as well who prevented their daughters from joining for fear of public scrutiny. Family or not, enough pushed on and refused to abide by standards that kept them tied down and away from fighting for their country and found a sense of belonging and solidarity.

When WW2 ended, approximately 570,000 women in industry and clerical positions from all women’s divisions of the Army, Air Force and Navy were disbanded. After all their hard work and sacrifice, once the nations need for their female driving force ended, women were returned to the home as day care units were no longer operated, even though many wanted to stay on when the war horse was put to rest.

Never ones to quit while ahead, women continued the fight and in the early 1980’s were allowed enrollment in military colleges and then won the battle when a law was passed that it was discriminatory to refuse women be in active duty. Over a period of 10 years, women were integrated into all facets of the military, it taking until 2003 when Master Seaman Colleen Beattie was the first women to serve in a submarine.

In classrooms of today the wars in Afghanistan are highlighted and for the first time in history within that campaign 310 women fought in combat roles such as Infantry, Field Artillery, Combat Engineers and Pilots, while 1350 held supportive combat roles. Some were even held as invaluable when entering countries exhibiting female oppression such as the Congo, Afghanistan and Iraq, so women of those regions can see the options given in free countries.

In the same breath, I feel it’s important to mention 26 year old, Captain Nichola Goddard (picture on left), a Forward Artillery Observer and the first female to die in front line military combat in a firefight in the Panjwaii district in Afghanistan. War is not pretty. No matter how you spin it, or the face that represents it, it’s bloody and negative and has plagued the human race for thousands of years, but war effects all people within those warring countries, not only the select burly men movies make big bucks on.

The whole point is choice. Not every girl grows up wanting to wear army boots and fatigues but for the ones who do, this dream would be impossible without the trailblazing of stubborn women refusing to be told they don’t have a choice due to flimsy arguments about inferior upper body strength, possible pregnancy, morale of predominately male units, and the mental rigors on the fragile female mind during the horrors of long standing battle.

This Remembrance Day when you donate change for a poppy, wear it proudly and remember all the people who sacrificed their lives for their country and safety of their families and the struggle of women who had to fight a war before they even stepped foot on the battlefield.

I invite you to please share with us the brave women in your lives who have in the past or are currently making those sacrifices in any role, in their family homes, community or deployed across the world and we will be sure to remember them as well.

On the YWCA’s behalf, please thank them for all they have done and all they are doing to continue the war for equality while servicing our country.

(Sources: www.historyarchive.whitetree.ca, www.warmuseum.ca, www.veterans.gc.ca, www.sistersinarms.ca, wwww. canada.com, www.news.nationalpost.com)