Veteran Stories:
Stella Katherine Barter (née Zarowny)

Air Force

  • Photo taken during her first posting in the barracks in Mossbank, Saskatchewan, 1944. Stella's bunk was the lower bunk, the first one on the left.

    Stella Barter
  • Stella and her softball team travelled to different towns such as Moose Jaw. This photo is taken in August 1944.

    Stella Barter
  • Stella is in the back row, tenth from the left. Her group was the last group of women to be discharged from Uplands Station, Ontario, in November 1946.

    Stella Barter
  • Document confirming receipt of Stella's application for enlistment in the RCAF, August 4, 1943.

    Stella Barter
  • Stella Barter (née Zarowny) in her RCAF uniform. She was posted to Toronto to be trained as a clerk typist.

    Stella Barter
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"I wanted to go west because I had never been away from home and I wanted to be near home, so I was posted to Saskatchewan."


I wanted to work in an office as a typist. So after that, they [the Royal Canadian Air Force, Women’s Division] sent me to [RCAF Station Downsview] Toronto for a six week crash course. You had to make your 50 words a minute then, so I was in Toronto for that. And then you get a posting, wherever. They wanted to know if I wanted to go down east or overseas or west. I says, I wanted to go west because I had never been away from home and I wanted to be near home [in Hafford, Saskatchewan], so I was posted to Saskatchewan. I could make it home for the first Christmas that I was away.

I was at [No. 2] Bombing and Gunnery School [Mossbank, Saskatchewan] and that’s where most of the Australians and British men were training for bombing and whatnot on the lake in there. I worked in a sergeant major’s office there for a while, but having no typewriter, I had to do everything by hand; and here I went in as a typist and I had to use a typewriter in the other offices in the same building, but when they were in use, I couldn’t do it, so I had to do most of the stuff by hand. So I re-mustered to a postal clerk right there in Mossbank.

Being among so many different people from so many different walks of life… We used to go to the canteen as they called in the evening, spend our times in there and we’d discuss different things and learn so much from the others or learn from each other, we should say, that it was amazing how the times would go by in the evenings, when we’d be talking about different things and our different lives. We used to have a lot of entertainment right on the station and they used to have dances, they used to put shows on and used to bring different bands and stuff from the city, like from Ottawa, came out to Mossbank, it was my last station. So we used to bring different bands from there.

All these things are, you know, you often sit and think about all these things. Then I had an opportunity to take the St. John’s Ambulance course. That was very, I often think of that, I’m glad I took it; mind you, there’s so much newer things they do now with it. But all the good times we had. We had to study a lot. Like I mean, to get the post office, like to re-muster. We had to learn a lot about handling the mail and the postage to different countries, and how to do money orders and postal. Well, everything a postal clerk, even nowadays, well, it’s all on the computer now. So when you start, you just start. Of course, with the ranks, when you start, also with the postal clerk, it was the postal clerk, it came in three stages. Like you’d start with the Postal Clerk 3 and a Postal Clerk 2, and then 1. And the same way with our ranks when you go in, you’re Air Woman [Class] 2 and then you get a promotion, then AW1, you’re Air Woman [Class] 1, and then Leading Air Woman [LAW], and then Corporal, Sergeant, and up. So I got as far as the Leading Air Woman.

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