RCAF Airwomen planning June reunion

RCAF Airwomen

This year’s reunion is June 7 to 9 at the Marriott, 100 Kent Street, Ottawa.

How the reunion began

Thousands of Canadian women served in the Second World War; there were 4,480 Nursing Sisters and, in 1941, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) women’s division was created. There were 50,000 women in the Canadian Armed Forces, of which approximately 17,000 served in the RCAF, working in both traditional and non-traditional trades.

In 1951, the Canadian government declared women would be recruited into the RCAF, as it needed greater numbers of personnel because of the construction of three radar lines across the country: the Distant Early Warning Line, the Mid-Canada line and the Pinetree line.

On July 3, 1951, the first 80 enlisted women arrived for basic training at St. Jean, Quebec. By 1953, the number of women had increased to 3,133 and, by 1955, the number had dropped to 2,903. By the early 1960s changes in radar technology meant the RCAF’s personnel needs had dropped considerably and it decided to stop recruiting women.

A happenstance reunion

One day in Vancouver in 1988, RCAF veterans Diane White and Shirley Duff met at a department store “by chance” and made a luncheon date to talk over old times. During that luncheon, they thought it would be a great idea to hold a reunion of all airwomen from the 1951 to 1966 era. They set about planning a reunion and held a very successful one in Vancouver in June 1990, attracting women from across Canada, the United States and Mariana Islands. A second reunion was held in Ottawa in June 1993.

After that, it became a periodic occurrence. These RCAF Airwomen reunions have attracted anywhere from 200 to 450 ex-airwomen, renewing old friendships and making new ones.

Reunions continue every second year. This year’s reunion is June 7 to 9 at the Marriott, 100 Kent Street, Ottawa.

Visit www.rcafairwomen.ca to join and register for the reunion. You’ll also receive our monthly newsletter.

If you were a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s women’s division, or an airwoman in the Canadian Armed Forces, retired or not; you may join the RCAF Airwomen. Get to know many of the ladies who lived history, including Second World War veterans, and hear from women in active roles in today’s RCAF.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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