• Only a teenager when she joined the Hamilton-based Victory Entertainers, Connie Laidlaw brought Charlotte, the ventriloquist’s dummy, to life. She gave 266 performances for servicemen on the home front during the Second World War. (Photo: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 125798)


Barbara McNutt stands in her Miss Canada uniform, ready to sell war savings stamps. (Photo: George Metcalf Archival Collection/Canadian War Museum)

“When World War Two started, I was six years old living in Dartmouth, N.S.,” began Barbara McNutt while exploring the Canadian War Museum’s latest exhibit, World War Women.

“The large estate between our house and Halifax Harbour was turned into an army camp...We could hear riveters at the shipyard 24 hours a day and see ships moving up the harbour to anchor at Bedford Basin waiting to cross the Atlantic.”

McNutt said she collected cooking fat and scrap metal in the neighbourhood to help in the war effort. When she turned 12, she volunteered as a Miss Canada girl, donning a red apron and blue wedge cap and selling war savings stamps door to door.

“Raising money to help win the war was a very responsible job,” she said, “and we took it seriously.”

Her tiny apron and cap are on display at the World War Women exhibit, which explores the crucial contributions made by Canadian women in the First and Second World Wars through personal stories, artifacts, photographs, audiovisual material and text.

Through the exhibit’s five main themes, including volunteering, serving, working, domestic pressure and worry and loss, visitors can explore women’s wartime experiences and society’s changing perceptions of them. The exhibit runs until April 3, 2016.

Did you know?

• By the end of the Second World War, women and girls had raised $318 million by selling war savings stamps.
• More than 50,000 women served with the Canadian Armed Forces during the two World Wars.
• Molly Lamb Bobak was the only female Canadian official war artist sent overseas during the Second World War. She went on to be one of Canada’s most celebrated war artists.
• 3,000 nurses served in the armed forces, and 2,504 were sent overseas with the Canadian Army Medical Corps during the First World War. Canadian nurses were accorded officer status to discourage fraternization and give them authority over patients..
• During the Second World War, more than 300,000 Canadian women held jobs related to war production.
• During the two World Wars, approximately 100,000 Silver Crosses were given to the mothers and wives of soldiers who were killed.