#100DaysofVimy – April 5th, 2017

Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War. Today:

Community Groups & Clubs

Poster calling for assistance in the war effort at home. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-28-690V.

Over the last three months we have shared many stories about the contributions of women in the First World War. Aside from the official organizations such as the YWCA, the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, and the Canadian Red Cross, many women formed their own unofficial community groups, taking up the cause in any way they could. Small groups from churches, women’s clubs and social circles formed knitting, sewing and baking clubs. Following the Great Fire of Parliament in 1916, one enterprising women’s group sold bits of Parliament rubble as souvenirs to raise funds for War Bonds. As a result of these small efforts, Canada’s troops received a constant stream of parcels from home, with knitted clothing, baked goods, and cigarettes. Even Prisoners of War were able to receive parcels through the Canadian Red Cross, which forwarded those it received from the women’s groups back home.

In this letter dated 16 June 1918, Private Ernest Nuttall of the 8th Battalion (90th Winnipeg Rifles) thanks Canadian women from within the Prisoner of War Camp in Langensalza, Germany.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada / MG28-I35, vol. 4, World War I Prisoner of War Camp, financial statements, 1916-1918.

The NFB film “And We Knew How To Dance” features interviews with 12 women detailing their service in the First World War. It can be viewed here: https://www.nfb.ca/film/and_we_knew_how_to_dance/

The arrival of Canadian parcels in England, to be forwarded to troops at the front.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-005195.
Cutting fabric to length with the Women’s Canadian Club.
Credit: William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / PA-800006.