2012 was the 70th Anniversary of the Canadian Wrens

Minister MacKay Recognizes the 70th Anniversary of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Nov. 8, 2012) – As part of Veterans’ Week 2012, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, wishes to mark the 70th anniversary of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, better known as the “Wrens”. Established as a division of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service was created on July 31, 1942. This group of Canadian women volunteered to serve Canada during the Second World War at a time when women had not previously played an active role in the Canadian military.

“The Canadian women who volunteered to serve their nation brought significant contributions to the Canadian war effort during these turbulent years,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay. “These women helped change the way society looked at women and the important role they could play in the defence of our country. Today women play an integrated part in all aspects of the Canadian Forces, and the Wrens can be proud to have played a key role in leading the way.”

“These courageous women simply wanted to be in naval service at a time when there was a huge threat to Canada’s national interests at sea,” said Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Forces Champion for Diversity. “They willingly faced the inequalities of the day, did great work ashore to enable the success of our men at sea and helped push society into full acceptance of the role of women as full contributing members of the Royal Canadian Navy. Today, women serve as equals in the Royal Canadian Navy, as both regular and reserve members, ashore and at sea. I would not want to deploy a ship or submarine without women of all ranks among their crews.”

Many young women signed up for the duration of the Second World War, putting family and careers on the back burner. By the end of the war, nearly 7,000 women had served with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service in 39 different trades including many non-traditional occupations such as sonar operators, coders, and telegraphists.

When the war was over, the Wrens left the Navy and returned to their hometowns, but because of what they had endured, their lives had changed forever and nothing would be the same for them or for Canada. The efforts of these pioneering women helped open the door for the women who now serve in a broad range of roles in the Canadian Forces today.

Click here for photos of the Oct 13 Anniversary Dinner