Nova Scotia Archives

'An East Coast Port': Halifax in Wartime, 1939 - 1945

Women and Families Respond to War

The war years in Halifax brought dramatic changes to the role of women at home and in the community. Jobs traditionally held by men suddenly became vacant, opening up new opportunities and frontiers for women — who were more than ready for the challenge.

As government employees, they helped to administer price controls, food and fuel rationing, and citizen registration requirements — war measures that reached into every corner of every home. In industry, they picked apples, packed fish, and helped build boats and technical equipment. As volunteers, they worked in canteens, service clubs and hostels, providing food, entertainment and a 'home away from home' for the thousands of troops who flooded into the city.

Women joined the military as nurses and went with the Overseas Nursing Divisions, or remained behind and cared for those invalided home. Others joined the Canadian Women's Army Corps, the Canadian Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service. Many others volunteered full or part-time with the Canadian Red Cross.

Family life was strained under the restrictions and deprivations of war, but again, wives and mothers rose to the challenge and learned to do 'more with less' — especially in the kitchen where wartime cookbooks promoted food rationing, with the ingredients adjusted accordingly.

Almost every family had someone serving overseas. There were no phone calls, e-mails or text messages; telegrams were dreaded. Instead, letters — all of them opened and censored, of course — travelled back and forth as lifelines of continuity, bearing the news of everyday life.

The welcome extended to Guest Children evacuated to Canada from Great Britain after the London Blitz was warm and enduring, a high-note of the war years; many were billeted with Halifax families for the duration and some remained afterwards. The significance of their arrival was not matched until war's end, when nearly 45,000 war brides arrived in Canada — most of them via Halifax — with 21,000 children in tow.

More information:

Canadian Women's Army Corps
Wartime Cookbooks
British Guest Children

Results 1 to 15 of 79 from your search: ch4

Central Magazine Exchange, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Date: 1941

Reference: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives 1975-305 1941 no. 459a

Women and Families Respond to War


Magazine Department of the Naval Reading Service

Date: 1940

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004 Photo F

Women and Families Respond to War


Naval Reading Service

Date: 1940

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004

Women and Families Respond to War


Sorting magazines and newspapers at the Naval Reading Service

Date: 1940

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004 Photo F

Women and Families Respond to War


Naval Reading Service in old King Edward Hotel, Barrington and North Streets, Halifax

Date: 1940

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004

Women and Families Respond to War


Naval Reading Service

Date: 1942

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004 Photo G

Women and Families Respond to War


Elaine Tilly, Jean Gow, Claire Sandey and Irene Griffiths of the Naval Reading Service

Date: 1942

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004 Photo G

Women and Families Respond to War


Mrs. Lloyd Anderson, Mrs. MacDonald and C.P.O. Kinsman see that A.B. Gifford gets a good supply for his ship

Date: 1942

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004

Women and Families Respond to War


Mrs. M.S. Morton, Mrs. J.D. Gow, Mrs. Stuart Salt and Mrs. Lloyd Anderson

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004

Women and Families Respond to War


Jean Gow, President and Founder of the Naval Reading Services

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004

Women and Families Respond to War


Francis (Peter) Gow

Date: 1938

Reference: Jean D. Gow Nova Scotia Archives 2002-045 002 envelope 004

Women and Families Respond to War


Dickensen - Gow wedding

Date: 1941

Reference: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives 1975-305 1941 no. 197-8c

Women and Families Respond to War


Favorite Recipes

Date: 1940

Reference: Nova Scotia Archives V/F vol. 541 no. 22

Women and Families Respond to War


Corporal Daisy Nunn working in the hospital of the RCAF Station Dartmouth

Reference: John Rogers Nova Scotia Archives 1995-370 no. 33 33

Women and Families Respond to War


LAC John P. Vezina of Montreal recuperating in the Sick Bay at RCAF Station Dartmouth, with the old Leading Airwoman Nancy Goddess

Reference: John Rogers Nova Scotia Archives 1995-370 no. 34 34

Women and Families Respond to War



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