Veteran Stories:
Marie Beatrice “Bea” Venne

Air Force

  • Beatrice Venne in Uniform, Ottawa, 1942 or 1943.

    Beatrice M. Venne
  • "We went to a rodeo in Regina, SK. Four of us standing on the street. My friend Marcella got on the horse. She had never been at a rodeo because they were from N.B".

    Beatrice M. Venne
  • Beatrice Venne standing on the right.

    Beatrice M. Venne
  • L-R: Beatrice Venne; Marcella; Flora; Mary.

    Beatrice M. Venne
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"Nobody treated you different because you’re a woman, you shouldn’t be here. No, it wasn’t like that, everybody had their job to do and you just did it."


I’m Beatrice Venne and I was born in Leask, Saskatchewan in 1925. Oh, I just wanted to go. Somebody dared me. They said, oh, you’ll never get in and I said, I’ll show you. Basic training, we had to run, we had to march, we had to obey the rules. We weren’t allowed to go after, we had a curfew that we had to be in barracks at a certain time and that was it. That didn’t bother me any because we were always running around anyway. You know, like when you’re on the farm, you’re always moving, you were chasing cows and you’re used to heavy work. It’s not like you sleep, a person who don’t know what it is to do heavy work. I worked for farmers, so they expected you to be up at the break of dawn and work until midnight. So you got used to working hard.

After we finished our basic training, they asked what we would like to do, when we finished. And I said, well, I don’t know what else; I think I’d like to cook. And that’s where I started, they sent us into Guelph, Ontario. Just like when you’re going to school, they’d take you there and one day you’re with the bake shop and you’d cook all day there, they’d show you what to do and then every day you did something different. And you learned how to cook and you learned how to cut meat and you learned everything about cooking. And then you had a test after you finished all your training. And you had to pass your test before you got your papers too, then you’d get a little raise. It wasn’t much but it was a little something anyway because when you only work for $10 a month, a little bit of money goes a long way. Nobody treated us any different then. That’s what I said, like you didn’t know any different, you just went along with everybody else. Nobody treated you different or, because you’re a woman, you shouldn’t be here or nothing. No, it wasn’t like that, everybody had their job to do and you just did it.

Sent us back to [CFB] Rockcliffe, we cooked all the time there, after you finished your course, you went back and you did your cooking there. There are MT [Mechanical Transport] drivers and flyers, and everything in the air force. We cooked for them. We had all around shift, 24 hour shifts. We cooked at night, when the men would come in from flying and we’d have to have meals ready for them when they came in. So we were always busy.

Everybody has their own job. Some days you’re on meat, some days you’re in bake shop. Another time, you’re on soup, another time you’re on coffee. You know, everything, everybody has their own job to do for that day. They assign you a certain time to do what you do. And everybody was the same. Breakfast, we always had the cereal and toast, and coffee, and eggs, and bacon, and ham, whatever, and jams. Just like you’d do at home, the typical breakfast. And lunch, we’d have soup and sandwiches or whatever they put on the menu, then you followed that menu and you’d just cook like that. And supper was the same thing: you had roast, potatoes and vegetables and everything.

So some of the veterans, like when they were overseas, didn’t get much because there was not much overseas what they had, but Canada was okay because in Canada, people had lots of animals. I don’t know if they donated them or they sold them, it wasn’t very much. But we always had lots of meat in the service if we needed it, like you know, pigs and pork, and hams. You always had food. I don’t think anybody was deprived of food really.

They had movies all the time at the base. You weren’t allowed to go downtown unless it was your time off, like maybe a good 48 hour pass. But otherwise, you stayed on the base. You went to dances. We had dances pretty near every night and movies every night. You could go to a movie every night; they always had movies that you could go and see. Oh, I remember going to a bunch of different ones, Mrs. Miniver and oh, gosh, don’t ask me all the names of the movies that we seen, the old movies. I still like watching them. Gone With the Wind; you know, things like that. We watched all these old movies, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and the dancing and everything; we used to watch them all the time because that’s the only entertainment we had. And we’d go roller skating.

Oh, I still have a friend that lives in New Brunswick that last year I went to see her in New Brunswick. Her and I were cooking together. After 60 years, I went to see her last year. And Mary Tibbits. She used to be Mary Demerchant. Good memories. I wouldn’t say they were bad memories, no. It was always seemed like everything ̶ we had fun.

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