This is one of the many paintings from Canada’s only female official war artist during the Second World War, Molly Lamb (later Molly Lamb Bobak). The painting depicts Private Roy tending bar and, like many of Lamb’s paintings, it presents one of the multitudes of activities which members of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps performed.
This is one of the many paintings from Canada’s only female official war artist during the Second World War, Molly Lamb (later Molly Lamb Bobak). The painting depicts Private Roy tending bar and, like many of Lamb’s paintings, it presents one of the multitudes of activities which members of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps performed.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Private Roy, Canadian Women's Army Corps

Private Roy, Canadian Women's Army Corps

Molly Lamb Bobak
Canadian War Museum
c. 1946
Oil on canvas
© Canadian War Museum


When Canada declared war in 1939, the women of Canada responded by forming volunteer service groups to aid in the war effort. The large numbers and increasing persistence of these women convinced the Canadian Government to establish, on August 13, 1941, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. The basis of the women’s corps was to release men for active duty in the front lines by replacing them in necessary, but non-combat, roles. Initially, there was some negative reaction to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. Members of the general public were reluctant to see their daughters, sisters, and sweethearts go to war. Several men in the armed forces were equally reluctant to see women enter their ranks.

These patriotic and adventurous women, however, soon proved their worth. Hardworking and determined to overcome the prejudices against them, the women of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps excelled in their new positions. In fact, within a year of the corps’ formation, demand for these women soldiers was so high that recruitment was unable to keep up with the need. The Canadian government, anxious to raise recruitment levels, began a large-scale campaign wit Read More
When Canada declared war in 1939, the women of Canada responded by forming volunteer service groups to aid in the war effort. The large numbers and increasing persistence of these women convinced the Canadian Government to establish, on August 13, 1941, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. The basis of the women’s corps was to release men for active duty in the front lines by replacing them in necessary, but non-combat, roles. Initially, there was some negative reaction to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. Members of the general public were reluctant to see their daughters, sisters, and sweethearts go to war. Several men in the armed forces were equally reluctant to see women enter their ranks.

These patriotic and adventurous women, however, soon proved their worth. Hardworking and determined to overcome the prejudices against them, the women of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps excelled in their new positions. In fact, within a year of the corps’ formation, demand for these women soldiers was so high that recruitment was unable to keep up with the need. The Canadian government, anxious to raise recruitment levels, began a large-scale campaign with magazine advertisements, billboards, handbills, displays, and other forms of advertising to coax Canadian women into the armed forces.

The Canadian Women’s Army Corps Band played at rallies and the Precision Squad made public appearances to boost interest in the corps. As recruitment efforts were increased, Canadian women responded and were soon replacing male soldiers in Canada, Newfoundland, the United States, Great Britain, in Continental Europe, and, in the case of one member, in India.

The corps’ training was very similar to the training that male soldiers received and included squad drill (without arms), saluting drill, recognition of badges of rank in His Majesty’s Forces, first aid, gas defence, special training in assigned fields, and other training as determined by the Minister of National Defence.

The positions that they filled included, but were not limited to, clerks, stenographers, cooks, waitresses, motor transport drivers, telephone and wireless operators, lab assistants, messengers, laundry workers, bookkeepers, helio workers (signaling), tailors and textile workers, mechanics of all kinds, hospital and dental workers, postal clerks, and ordnance officers. More unusual positions included draughtsmen, Provost officers (regimental police), radiographers, madres (female chaplains), medical officers, members of the Army Show and the Corps’ Band, and Kinetheodolite operators or Kine-CWACs who worked to correct the marksmanship of the artillerymen.

By the end of 1946, over 21,000 women had proved their value to the Armed Forces as members of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.

The Second World War, coming so quickly after the First World War, allowed some women the unique opportunity of serving alongside their war-veteran fathers. Fathers served alongside daughters, brothers served with sisters, husbands with wives, men with their sweethearts, sisters served together, and even mothers and daughters could be seen side by side in uniform.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Women’s Corp Advertisement

Small cardboard mini-display of a girl in a CWAC uniform used for recruitment purposes: "The Proudest Girl in Canada."

The Museum of the Regiments

© The Museum of the Regiments


Recruitment Handbill

Recruitment Handbill .

The Museum of the Regiments

© The Museum of the Regiments


"GIRLS – Serve So That Men May Fight! 2000 BC girls are urgently needed…capable and dependable girls…to release men for the fighting forces. Step into a smart uniform, an interesting and important job, good chance of promotion, pay and benefits equal to a civilian job of $80 to $90 per month. For full information call or write to your nearest Army Recruiting Officer. CWAC: Canadian Women’s Army Corps." Across the top: "Hear the "ARMY SHOW" 6pm Sundays, over CBR."
"GIRLS – Serve So That Men May Fight! 2000 BC girls are urgently needed…capable and dependable girls…to release men for the fighting forces. Step into a smart uniform, an interesting and important job, good chance of promotion, pay and benefits equal to a civilian job of $80 to $90 per month. For full information call or write to your nearest Army Recruiting Officer. CWAC: Canadian Women’s Army Corps." Across the top: "Hear the "ARMY SHOW" 6pm Sundays, over CBR."

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps on parade at the Calgary Stampede, 1942.

The Museum of the Regiments

© The Museum of the Regiments


Canadian Women's Army Corps' Precision Squad

Canadian Women's Army Corps' Precision Squad performing drill at Currie Barracks in Calgary, 1943. Members of the Precision Squad often toured across Canada to promote recruiting and Victory Bond drives.

The Museum of the Regiments

© The Museum of the Regiments


News Clipping

News clipping from the scrapbook of a Canadian Women's Army Corps member: "Fathers and Daughters Serving Together in the Army.

The Museum of the Regiments

© The Museum of the Regiments


"When the old soldiers of the Veteran’s Guard shown above first went to war, they little dreamed that a quarter century later they would be serving again with their daughters in khaki beside them. Photographed together at Fort Osbourne [sic, Osborne] Barracks, Winnipeg, they are, from left to right, Pte. [Private] John Humberstone, Pte. Hilda Humberstone, Pte. George Frost, Pte. Margaret Frost, Pte. Herbert Redfearn, Pte. May Redfearn (Canadian Army Photo)."
"When the old soldiers of the Veteran’s Guard shown above first went to war, they little dreamed that a quarter century later they would be serving again with their daughters in khaki beside them. Photographed together at Fort Osbourne [sic, Osborne] Barracks, Winnipeg, they are, from left to right, Pte. [Private] John Humberstone, Pte. Hilda Humberstone, Pte. George Frost, Pte. Margaret Frost, Pte. Herbert Redfearn, Pte. May Redfearn (Canadian Army Photo)."

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Develop an understanding of the participation and role of Canada’s Army in the World War II
  • Examine the contributions, sacrifices and experiences of individuals who participated in military events during World War II
  • Identify key locations in which Canada’s military operated during World War II

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