International Women’s Week runs from today, March 2nd, till March 8th, International Women’s Day.  This year the theme is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”.

Our Museum Library has a number of books that you might be interested in reading; if you can’t come in for a browse, you might find these titles in your local library.  We’ll share a few titles throughout the coming week.


A History of Women in the Canadian Military ~ The author, Barbara Dundas, wrote about women in Canada’s Armed Forces.  The Governor General of Canada at the time, Adrienne Clarkson, celebrated the book, “I am sure that anyone who is interested in the ever-evolving role of women will deeply appreciate this book that chronicles an important part of their full and equal inclusion in our society and our national institutions.”  The author begins the story in 1885 during the North-West Rebellion, a time when Canadian women first answered the call to military service; the Minister of Militia and Defence ordered a medical contingent to accompany the expedition ~ thus the need for women nurses.

When the military operations were successfully concluded, the five nurses, along with the rest of the medical staff, accompanied the wounded to Winnipeg where their patients received additional medical attention.


NURSING SISTERS (National Archives of Canada)


Throughout the immediate post World War II period, the nurses saw the most widespread service.  While military operations in Korea were still in progress, nurses were serving as part of Canada’s contribution to NATO forces in Europe.  In 1951, RCAF nurses entered the dangerous field of para-rescue, which had previously been restricted to airmen and doctors.  Candidates trained at the Para-Rescue School in Edmonton, a six week programme of vigorous physical training and classroom instruction prior to attempting their first parachute jump.




The role of women expanded further between 1965 and 1988; in 1988, women began training as fighter pilots.  Captain Jane Foster was one of the first to do so.