Veteran Stories:
Joan Balch

Navy

  • A group of WRENs at the King Edward Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1943. This is the kind of photo you will find in the Archives of the WRENs Association of Toronto.

    Joan Balch
  • A WREN working on photography in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    Joan Balch
  • A WREN from Alberta takes in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for the first time.

    Joan Balch
  • Two WRENs aboard ship.

    Joan Balch
  • WRENs on the balcony at Wolseley House in Ottawa, Ontario, 1944.

    Joan Balch
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

""In the past couple of years we have tried to gather all our various objects that we’d collected over the years and find a museum or archive that would house them.""

Transcript

My name is Joan Balch, and I'm with the WREN Association of Toronto. I joined at HMCS Prevost, and then when I moved to Toronto, I joined HMCS York. My trade at that time was radar. Navigation and direction was what they changed the name to. I was a post-war WREN, and I had three trips to the various bases. I went to HMCS Cornwallis, HMCS Naden in Esquimault, and to HMCS Stadacona.

In the past couple of years we have tried to gather all our various objects that we'd collected over the years and find a museum or archive that would house them. During that time, we have contacted the Canadian Military Heritage Museum in Brantford, and they will take some of the physical items, and they have already received some of those. We also contacted the City of Cambridge Archives, because HMCS Conestoga was in Galt. The full archives will hold most of the WREN Association information, but basically Conestoga.

They would be photographs, background material, reunions we've gone to. For Brantford we've concentrated on the physical stuff, and they have a uniform and a grey coat, and some shoes, etc. As we've asked the WRENs over the last couple of years, any time we have come across anything of interest, we have collected it. If they offer it to us, I never say no. I say thank you and take it. We have been also collecting for the University of Waterloo, and the women's group down there is doing a book about HMCS Conestoga and the CWACs who trained at Kitchener.

Follow us