Veteran Stories:
Martha Violet “Dear Dawson” Schurman (née Dawson)

Army

  • Letter written by Prince Edward Island Minister of Agriculture W.H. Dennis recommending Martha Schurman (née Dawson) for service in the army, January 5, 1943.

    Martha Schurman
  • Driver's Certificate awarded to Private Martha Schurman (née Dawson), Kitchener, Ontario, March 31, 1943.

    Martha Schurman
  • Female veterans of the Second World War at Government House, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, circa 2005.

    Martha Schurman
  • Martha Schurman in Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWAC) uniform, September 1943.

    Martha Schurman
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"I took a driver’s course and that’s where I got my driver’s license, which made sense after taking a mechanics course."

Transcript

When I was seventeen, I took a mechanics course in Charlottetown, which was rare for a woman to do in them days. And then I read about the CWAC [Canadian Women’s Army Corps] and couldn’t wait for my eighteenth birthday. I enlisted on my eighteenth birthday. I took a driver’s course and that’s where I got my driver’s license, which made sense after taking a mechanics course. So I learned to drive in Kitchener, Ontario. I went from Charlottetown to Halifax and then to Kitchener. And I got my driver’s license in 1943 I think it was. And from there, I was transferred back to Halifax as a driver. And we drove big machines and everything. But, the nerves got the best of me in Halifax with the hills. I wasn’t used to parking and you know, a young person, 18 years old. So I asked to be transferred to the Postal Corps and I went to Montreal. And that way, I kind of kept in touch with some of my buddies that were overseas because we handled all the mail. And when they wrote the history of Tryon, where I was born, one of the men said he often received parcels from me, from Montreal, and how they appreciated them. I liked Montreal. We had a beautiful old home that was done over on Peel Street. And it was different. I was nine months in Montreal. And I don’t remember how long I was in Kitchener or Halifax but I was nine months in Montreal. And then my feet got, weren’t good and I was discharged. When I came home, my father, he had six children, we were all still living. And he was a businessman. He was always going to Summerside and selling stuff at the stores and different things. He had a fox ranch. And we had a car and we had running water. My father was talking to a man in New Annan that had a grocery store. And the man that worked for him joined up after I got discharged. And he didn’t have nobody to work at the store. So my father came home from Summerside and he said, I’m taking you down with me in the morning, you’re going on the train, you’ve got a job in New Annan. Well, nowadays, you wouldn’t think of getting a job - your father getting you a job - sight unseen. And I lived right with the family. And that’s where I met my husband and I’ve been married now for 65 years.
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