Margaret Baker in Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division uniform, November 1945.Marg Baker
Group portrait of the first reunion of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division in 1947.Marg Baker
Pictured here are the members of the Eastern Air Command of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division who were given a farewell banquet at the Nova Scotian Hotel in November 1946.Marg Baker
Margaret Baker, June 25, 2010.Marg Baker
Christmas Dance for the Eastern Air Command's Royal Canadian Air Force, Women's Division, December 1945.Marg Baker
"But I was in Halifax for V-E Day; and when they had the riots down there, it was really heartrending, I think."
During the [Great] Depression, my dad was a plumber and he had worked for his father, who had a plumbing business; and because of the lack of work and money, and everything else, then he’d had to let Dad go. But Dad owned property in Muskoka [Ontario], so we went up there for a year and stayed for ten. He had 126 acres and he built cottages; and we had a boat building going on in our living room every winter. There was only three girls in our family and we had to go three miles, twice a week, to pick up our mail. My mother used to send the grocery order out with the mailman on the Wednesday and he’d come back in on Saturday with the groceries; and we’d be there to meet him with a sleigh or a wagon, or something else to carry it home. We stayed there until 1940. The war had started and there was an army camp in [No. 23 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre] Newmarket, Ontario; and my dad applied for a job as a plumber there, so we moved to Newmarket. We were there for five years.
My mother taught us with the correspondence course, three girls, and I had already been in grade eight, I think, for two years and finally, they sent me to an aunt’s, so I could go to school to get my grade eight education. And that was the beginning of us being in civilization (laughs).
Well, I went to school in Newmarket for two years and then I joined the Air Force [Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division]. I went and worked at Massey-Harris [Co.] in an aircraft plant, working on [de Havilland DH-98] Mosquito [versatile fighter-reconnaissance-bomber aircraft] bomber wings. And then they were calling for people for the air force and services, and everything else; and I decided that I wanted to join the air force and my parents were quite accepting of that because of the fact that I was still under 21, so there wasn’t any chance of me going overseas.
I went to [RCAF Station Downsview] Toronto and joined up, and was enrolled, whatever you call it, and then I went to [RCAF Station Rockcliffe, in] Ottawa for training, and that started it all. And going from three people in the family to moving into barracks with about 20 women in the same room, you know, it was … They were a friendly bunch, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable or anything like that. [I] went to Halifax north, Eastern Air Command Headquarters in Halifax in September ; and I was there until I got out of the air force in November 1946. I was a clerk accountant for the Eastern Air Command. I didn’t work with any money or payrolls, or anything else. I looked after inventories for offices and equipment.
But I was in Halifax for V-E [Victory in Europe] Day [May 8, 1945]; and when they had the riots down there, it was really heartrending, I think. We had the parade where all the services were down there at the parade square and they marched the WDs right back to barracks right after; and we were confined to barracks for two days because there had been stories going around that the Navy, I think it was, you know, they were going to raid the barracks sort of thing. We weren’t on too friendly terms at that time, I don’t think, and it got a little bit worse after the riots because the WDs weren’t in it at all and they couldn’t be blamed for anything.