In 1941 basic pay was set at two-thirds that of servicemen of equivalent rank. Trades pay was substantially lower than that for servicemen, and servicewomen could not claim dependants' allowances. These inequalities were cause for complaint from both uniformed and civilian women. In July 1943 the government raised basic pay to four-fifths that of men of the same rank, equalized trades pay and granted allowances for dependent parents and siblings, but not for dependent husbands or children. Although inequalities remained, the services were ahead of most private industry in narrowing the gap between men's and women's pay and benefits.
A 1943 public opinion survey revealed that only 7% of Canadians regarded joining the women's forces as the best way for women to serve Canada's war effort. This attitude accompanied widespread resistance to the breaking down of sexual divisions of labour and authority. Braving the opposition, 21 624 women served in CWAC before its dissolution in 1946. Almost 3000 were stationed in the UK; starting May 1944, select groups of these were dispatched to operational areas in Europe to serve as support staff for Canadian invasion forces. When Germany surrendered in May 1945, the CWAC constituted 2.8% of the total strength of the Canadian Army.
Colonel Margaret Eaton headed the corps April 1944-October 1945 in the position of Director General, CWAC. Thereafter, this position was gradually downgraded in preparation for the disbanding of the corps. Servicemen as well as women proposed inclusion of women's corps in postwar RESERVE FORCES, but Cabinet did not give approval. Only in 1951, during the KOREAN WAR, was the decision taken to enlist women again in the regular forces.
Author RUTH ROACH PIERSON
Links to Other Sites
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa is dedicated to the men and women who served with valour and distinction in Canada’s armed services. Their website features a virtual tour of the museum and multimedia online exhibits that depict how Canada met and overcame wartime challenges throughout its history.
The Canadian Letters and Images Project
This extensive collection of letters and photographs brings to light personal stories about wartime life at home and on the battlefield. Produced by Malaspina University College in British Columbia.
The Archives of Ontario Remembers the Home Front
In honour of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the Archives of Ontario presents this stirring retrospective of Ontario’s extraordinary Home Front contribution to the war effort. Check out the personal stories, photographs, posters, video clips and other multimedia.
Library and Archives Canada: Military and Peacekeeping
Check out the online exhibits about the history of Canadian military and peacekeeping operations featured at the website for Library and Archives Canada. View paintings by Canada's great war artists, gripping photographs of war on the frontlines, war diaries and stories, multimedia, and much more.
Canadian Military History Gateway
Search this website for authoritative information about Canadian military history. Provides links to websites for Canadian museums, libraries, archives, and other heritage organizations. Also features an online glossary of military terminology, educational resources and much more. From the Department of National Defence.
Winnipeg Tribune fonds
The material in the Winnipeg Tribune fonds pertaining to the Canadian Wartime Experience includes newspaper clippings and photographs of subjects relating to a number of conflicts including the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. From Archives & Special Collections, University of Manitoba.
The Memory Project: Canadian Women's Army Corps
Listen to an interview with Canadian veteran Corinne Kernan Sévigny who shares her thoughts about women serving in the military during wartime. Also check out related digitized artefacts and memorabilia. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
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