"We went up in planes and had one of those big cameras attached to a rope. And you hung the top of your body out the window, taking pictures of things on the ground."
I had just come through graduating from the Ontario Ladies College [present day Trafalgar Castle School, in Whitby, Ontario] and I was walking …I had picked up my brother on the other side of Toronto and my family lived near Burlington. And I picked my younger brother up; and I saw these girls walking along with their uniforms. And they looked so great, I went and joined [the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division]. And my parents were absolutely shocked when I got home. It was my twentieth birthday.
At basic training, I took tests. I wanted to be one of those people who moved things on a map, you know, where planes were. And because I was nearsighted, I couldn’t. My eyes apparently were not good enough. So, anyway, that’s, and then after being there about nine months, I was transferred to Ottawa [RCAF Station Rockcliffe] to the school where they taught photography. And that was a good experience.
We went up in planes and had one of those big cameras attached to a rope. And you hung the top of your body out the window, taking pictures of things on the ground. Well, it would be just in the air slip [air flow around the plane] that you were and by no time at all, I had a little brown bag drop over the Ottawa River (laughs).
I’d never been away from home before, so it was kind of a new experience. And [RCAF Station] Mont-Joli [Quebec, home of No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School] was a fabulous place at that time. I was there just a very short time; and I was asked to be with the little newspaper, The [Mont-Joli] Target, that came out. And so I went around and took pictures of all over.
It was training in the sense that I was in the part of the station that did photographs, you know, the air force men; and we had a great big room that had a round circle on the wall. And the air force men sat in the seat of an airplane and they had what looked like guns, but they were actually photography that they could shoot pictures of what was on the wall, which was all these German planes were flashed on the wall. And that’s what the, what I did, was flash these paintings or bombers that were, the German bombers, and they would shoot at them. But the camera would give them the, when the film was developed, they could know how accurate their shots were.
And then they started photographing the northern part of Canada. This had never been photographed before and they’d never been able to make maps. So this was, all of a sudden, this is what was happening. And the film that was taken would be with a 60 percent overlap so you could make it in three dimensions. So everything was, you know, you saw it as it was because it was three dimensional.
So that I annotated and annotated, and annotated, developed it, you know. So this was mostly what I was doing eventually and where Canada had never been mapped before, it was a great opportunity.