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archival descriptions
CA SVE SD-01-02-01 · Subseries · [197-] - [198-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

This subsubseries consists of the Women’s Labour History Project oral histories, conducted by Sara Diamond through the 1970s and 1980s. These interviews document the experiences of working class women from the 1920’s through the 1950’s, and in some cases, beyond. The interviewees talk about their lives as children, working women, housewives, and trade unionists. Their personal biographies span many countries and provinces, however, the focus of the interviews is on their activities in British Columbia from the Great Depression to the immediate post-war period.

Segments of the video interviews were incorporated into Diamond’s docudrama television series Keeping The Home Fires Burning (1988). Combining original Canadian wartime propaganda, interviews with working class women, original film footage, photographs, musical soundtracks and dramatization, Keeping the Home Fires Burning explored Canadian women’s working and domestic lives during and after World War Two.

The subsubseries is divided into files, titled after the interviewee.

Lake Cowichan Group
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-01 · File · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

File consists of 3 video interviews with Mrs. Atwal, Mrs. Maan, Mrs. Johal, and Mrs. Gill (first names excluded for privacy reasons). Subjects include: Immigrant experience; lives of Indo-Canadian women in 1940’s Lake Cowichan ; women’s contributions to the union; arranged marriages; forest industry safety; budgeting working class wages; benefits of trade unionism.

Mrs. Atwal, Mrs. Maan and Mrs. Johal were all born in India and immigrated to Canada and settled in the Lake Cowichan and Duncan areas on Vancouver Island where they raised their families. Mrs. Gill was born and raised in Victoria and moved to Lake Cowichan following her marriage. Their husbands all worked in the logging industry.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-01-SD_WLHP_069 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Mrs. Atwal, Mrs Maan, Mrs. Johal talk about immigrating from India and their early years in Canada; Mrs. Gill talks about her experiences as a Canadian-born, raised and educated woman. The women talk abut their arranged marriages, their children’s rejection of the same, and about their lives as logger’s wives and living conditions in Lake Cowichan in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-07-SD_WLHP_354 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Betty Griffin discusses wages and equal pay for women, and the difference in attitude towards women working during World War II and after the war. She also discusses consciousness raising within the rank and file (including the Worker’s Educational Association and the Miss Production contest), and struggles within the union between right wing and progressive factions. Finally, Griffin discusses attitudes towards the war effort and Fascism.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-15-SD_WLHP_350 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Jean Scott discusses her early life, growing up on the prairies, and her first jobs as a domestic. She discusses her musical aspirations, leaving her abusive husband, and the poor treatment of domestic workers. Finally, she discusses working in a small country hospital, attending night school, and the personal changes that came with the advent of war.

Seed, Irene
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-16 · File · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

File consists of video interviews with Irene Seed. Subjects include: Youbou, BC; 1930s; nursing; life with a child in rural Vancouver Island; racial segregation in the forestry industry; Women’s Auxiliary; mill safety; Youbou loggers; widow’s pension.

Irene Isabel Seed, nee Powell, (1909-2004) was born in Vancouver, BC, the eldest of five sisters. Her father worked as a foundry moulder. She graduated a nurse from Vancouver General Hospital in 1931. She met her husband Frank (1907-1963), a salesman, at a United Church Young People’s Church meeting. They married in 1934. By 1939, they had moved to a Vancouver Island mill town, Youbou, on Lake Cowichan, where they raised five children. Frank worked as a millwright for Industrial Timber Mills and Irene was active in the Women’s Auxiliary.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-16-SD_WLHP_331 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Irene Seed discusses moving to Youbou, British Columbia and daily life with a child in a rural Vancouver Island community. She talks about seeking steady work during the Great Depression, her experiences as a nurse (including training, duties, and wages), and the wood industry to which her husband belonged. She touches upon racial segregation in the forestry industry, and the Women’s Auxiliary’s impact on the social life of women in the community.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-16-SD_WLHP_332 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Irene Seed continues talking about her experiences in the Women’s Auxiliary, the activities of the Women’s Auxiliary, the Auxiliary’s relationship with the forestry industry and union, and the Auxiliary’s eventual dissolution. She also goes into safety issues in the mill, raising a child in Youbou, and her first day in Youbou.

FTBT - Jean Shiels - #1
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-17-SD_WLHP_347 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Jean Shiels discusses her early life in Vancouver, and her recollections of the Great Depression (including her family’s eviction and her father’s arrest for organizing). She discusses the Worker’s Unity League and the issues of free speech and free assembly. She also talks about food, community organization and women’s organization, social attitudes towards people on relief, and changing attitudes towards race in the 1930s. Finally, she talks about organization done by women, and the impact of unemployment on young people.

FTBT - Jean Shiels - #2
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-17-SD_WLHP_348 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Jean Shiels discusses disillusionment amongst women during the Great Depression, mother and father’s history with unionism, and their eviction during the Great Depression. She also discusses the single unemployed, the difference in labour struggles from the 1930s to the 1980s, and the On to Ottawa trek.

Storm, Marjorie
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-18 · File · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

File consists of video interviews with Marjorie Storm. Subjects include: Fraser Mills; sexual harassment; National Selective Service; Pacific Veneer, Canadian Forest Products; equa pay and access; New Democratic Party; domestic challenges; IWA Women’s Auxiliary; 1970’s women’s movement.

Marjorie Cynthia Storm nee Smart (1921-2007) was born in Glamorgan, Wales. She joined her father in Canada in 1931, living for a short time in Calgary, then moving to Vancouver by 1932. She married salesman William Storm. In 1942, when her daughter was nine-months-old and after her husband had enlisted, she joined the workforce. She subsequently worked 37 years in the forestry industry taking on many roles including shop steward, secretary of the grievance committee, plant chairperson, safety committee member, recording secretary on the women’s committee of the BC Federation of Labour, and member of the human rights branch. In the 1970’s became politically active and rose to Vice-President of the BC NDP in 1973.

Marj Storm - Tape 3
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-18-SD_WLHP_009 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Marjorie Storm describes the physical layout of the plant and its’ activities; technological change in the mill and effect on employment; being a working mother; domestic challenges; 60-pound lift limits for women under the Factories Act; arbitration cases; the strike of 1948; I.W.A. Women’s Auxiliary and her attempts through resolutions to give it more clout.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-20-SD_WLHP_352 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Masue Tagashira discusses her husband’s illness, learning English, working in a barbership, her religious life, housework, childbirth, and raising children.

Fordham, Elizabeth
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-05 · File · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

File consists of 3 video interviews with Elizabeth Fordham. Subjects include: Immigration experience; clothes pressing; Great Depression; women’s labour movement; 1930’s pacifism; On To Ottawa Trek; 1934 West Coast waterfront strike; reproduction rights; summer camp for worker’s children.

Elizabeth Jane Fordham, nee Bray, was born in London, England in 1901. In 1924, Elizabeth accompanied her ex-boyfriend’s aunt to Regina, Saskatchewan, to put some distance between them. She worked at several odd jobs and as a domestic before moving to Vancouver by 1929. She worked as a presser for a time at Swan Brothers. In 1930, she married Richard Henry Alfred Fordham (1896-1977), a sawmill worker and fellow English immigrant. Richard was unemployed for a large part of the Depression and, facing eviction, they joined other unemployed in picketing landlords evicting the poor. By the 1940’s, Elizabeth was with the Women’s Auxiliary of the Worker’s Unity League. The League was responsible for establishing the Children’s Jubilee Summer Camp in Indian Arm for workers’ children in 1936. Elizabeth is recorded as a first director in the society’s 1944 incorporation papers. By the 1950’s, the couple had settled in the suburbs of South Vancouver. Elizabeth’s passion for the pacifist movement, summer camps, and civic concerns, can be traced through her letters to the editor over the following decades.

FTBT - E. Fordham - #2
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-05-SD_WLHP_353 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Elizabeth Fordham discusses the On to Ottawa Trek, Women’s League meetings, how she became involved in politics, and the different women’s organizations at the time. She also discusses evictions in Vancouver during the Great Depression, the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike, and her first job.

Godfrey, Lil
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-06 · File · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

File consists of 3 video interviews with Lil Godfrey. Subjects include: Logging at Lake Cowichan; domestic challenges; IWA Women’s Auxiliary; 1946 strike; Gordon’s general store; Indo-Canadian community in the Cowichan area; trade unionists labelled communists.

Harriet Lillian Godfrey, nee Greenwell, (1915-1999) was born in Extension, Vancouver Island. Her father was a third generation miner. The family had mined in Wellington, BC, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, Durham and Northumberland, England. Lillian trained as a teacher, however, there were no jobs available during the depression so she took on housework jobs. She married logger Ralph Clement Godfrey (1904-1994) in South Wellington in 1937 and the settled in Lake Cowichan. Lil joined the IWA Women’s Auxiliary in 1940.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-06-SD_WLHP_101 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Lil Godfrey discusses her life in the Lake Cowichan area during the 1940s, including housework and trade unionism in the region. She talks about where her support for trade unionism came from, her family’s immigration to Vancouver Island, actions undertaken by the lumber industry unions (including a 1946 strike), and fundraising in the Women’s Auxiliary. During the interview she looks through her scrapbook of correspondence and publicity regarding trade union issues and actions.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-06-SD_WLHP_329 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Lil Godfrey talks about the Lake Cowichan Women’s Auxiliary travelling delegations; women’s activities during the 1946 strike and the Auxiliary’s 10th anniversary; the Auxiliary’s community role as fundraisers and supporting services; the local chapter of the charity Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE); the importance of Gordon’s general store and the co-op; and the Indo-Canadian community at Cowichan.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-15-SD_WLHP_351 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Jean Scott discusses social attitudes towards domestic abuse, and her work with the Canadian Air Force during the war. She also discusses the beginnings of her interest in politics, her early involvement with the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the involvement of women in the party, and the Political Action Committee organized by the Canadian Congress of Labour. Finally, she discusses working for trade unions as office secretary, the types of industries being organized, attitudes towards trade unionism, and the International Woodworkers Association’s rejection of the International.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-17-SD_WLHP_349 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Jean Shiels discusses the Mother’s Council and relief during the Great Depression. She also discusses the peace movement, the League Against the War on Fascism, and support for Spain in the 1930s. Finally, she discusses the Young Pioneers and summer camp, race relations, women in trade unions, and birth control.

CA SVE SD-01-02-01-01-SD_WLHP_070 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Mrs. Atwal, Mrs. Maan, Mrs. Johal and Mrs. Gill talk about managing a working class wage including not being able to afford going to a restaurant, the importance of women raising animals and gardening to feed the family, and taking on menial jobs; how despite their poverty they all enjoyed those early times; Mrs. Johal tells a story of finding her cow in the house eating her knitting; living in housing owned by the mill companies; their responsibility towards family members including helping those immigrating during their first years in Canada; their experiences working outside the home, including in nursing and as agricultural labourers.

Bullock, Ruth
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-03 · File · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

File consists of 4 video interviews with Ruth Bullock. Subjects include: Early life on Salt Spring Island; domestic work; the Great Depression; injustices faced by women and girls; reproductive rights; the CCF; canning industry; assembly line work; union factionalization; women’s auxiliaries.

Ruth Bullock (nee Fraser) was born 1909 in Trout Lake, West Kootenay District, B.C. Ruth was a feminist dedicated to reproductive rights education and advocated for legal abortion. In 1934, she joined the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) a social democratic party. She met her husband, Reginald Walter Bullock (trade unionist, CCF member, boilermaker) in 1938. The Bullocks left the CCF and Communist Party during WWII in protest of the organizations’ support for the war effort, subsequently joining the Canadian Trotskyist movement in Vancouver until the branch disbanded in 1985. When Socialist Challenge/Gauche socialiste was recognized by the Fourth International Ruth declared her support and remained an active supporter. In her later years, she managed Vanguard Bookstore, a distributor of radical literature. Ruth died 1994 in North Vancouver.

FTBT - E. Fordham - #1
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-05-SD_WLHP_240 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Elizabeth Fordham discusses her experiences during the Great Depression, including difficulties with housing, food, and looking after children. She also discusses the women’s labour movement and the types of organizing undertaken by the movement. Finally, she discusses the pacifist movement during the 1930s.

FTBT - E. Fordham - #3
CA SVE SD-01-02-01-05-SD_WLHP_241 · Item · [198-] or [199-]
Part of Sara Diamond fonds

Elizabeth Fordham discusses her job pressing clothing. She also discusses her reasons for immigrating from England to Saskatchewan, and her subsequent movement from Saskatchewan to British Columbia. She talks about the birth control movement and the lack of sexual health education for women. Finally, she discusses her experiences setting up a summer camp for workers’ children.