WANTED: “Skilled Laundresses”

by | Jan 11, 2022 | History

In my research into Canadian women’s domestic contributions in the Second World War, I came across this interesting notice in Chatelaine magazine in October 1942. If women on the Home Front were tired of sewing and knitting, there was always laundry that needed to be done.

“The girls in uniform and the recruiting drive now on from coast to coast.  And the rumors (which may be official announcements any day now) that the first big contingents of C.W.A.C. girls to be sent overseas will be some hundreds of skilled laundresses to operate our Canadian Army’s washing machines and mangles.  An intensive course in modern laundry work is now in full swing for C.W.A.C. recruits at Glebe Barracks, Ottawa.  Want to get to Britain and see the boy friend, girls?”

C.W.A.C. was the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, formed in 1941 when women were first allowed to enlist in the Canadian military.  Recruits had to be British subjects without dependents, and between the age of 21 and 40 years old.  Over 21,000 women enlisted in CWAC in WWII, for such non-combat jobs as mechanics, parachute riggers, wireless operators, clerks, photographers and ambulance drivers.  But no where else in my research so far have I found reference to women as ‘skilled laundresses’.  I wonder if they received the same pay as other female recruits of ninety cents per day. How intriguing it would be to find a war-time diary of a CWAC laundress!