Like every good
publisher, Peggy Galloway knows the value of a good story.
And for the past three
years, she's been busy recording a particularly significant set of stories
for posterity, so that future generations might enjoy and learn from them,
even when their tellers are not longer around.
"There are so many people,
and so many stories, and the time really is getting on," said Galloway,
a Gladstone resident. "I just thought, 'We have to do this, before it's
too late and the stories are lost to us forever.'"
The stories in question
are the memories and experiences of women who lived during wartime -- and
often unsung group of heroes that Galloway has gotten to know very well
in recent years.
Last October, she launched
Women of the War Years -- and impressive 320-page book chronicling the
lives, laughs, hopes and fears of close to 200 women from all corners of
And while Galloway's book
received acclaim when it was released in the fall, it appears her readers
aren't the only ones impressed by her hard work and tenacity. On Jan. 17,
she was named Gladstone's Citizen of the Year - an honour that owes much
to the book, but even more to Galloway's generous nature and tireless efforts
over the course of the past several decades.
Raised on her parents'
farm outside Gladstone, Galloway moved to Alberta in the late 1940s, shortly
after she married her husband Clare.
The couple soon moved
back to Gladstone, however, to do some farming of their own, and to raise
their three children.
They got into the fuel
business in the early 1970s, taking over the Shell Bulk Fuel Agency for
the region, where Peggy became one of the first women to attend corporate
meetings generally reserved for men. After retiring, Galloway got heavily
involved with the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion, serving
as district commander for six years, and eventually sitting on the provincial
But it is Women of the
War Years that's brought Galloway her most recent round of applause. Published
with the help of grant money by a small team of volunteers and friends,
the book has evolved from a small-scale retirement project to a ground
breaking historical record.
Galloway got the idea
for the book while volunteering for a local access television station,
where she interviewed veterans and war brides about their experiences during
the Second World War.
She was especially touched
by the story of Winnipeg resident Lydia Green, who survived a Polish concentration
"She was a victim as a
child of the war, in that part of Europe where the borders were continually
changing," Galloway said. "And I was extremely impressed by her story --
I just never thought that I would be the one to record it."
But the fact that Green's
experiences had never been documented brought Galloway to the realization
that there was a wealth of women the world over with untold war stories
of their own.
"I've always felt that
their stories should be heard," she said. "But women weren't in the
battle zone, except for the nursing sisters, and I think that's had something
to do with their stories becoming less of a priority."
So Galloway set to work.
She started by writing letters to newspapers around the province, asking
for submissions from women who were willing to share their experiences.
Through word-of-mouth, news of her undertaking soon spread, until she was
getting phone calls and faxes from women all over Canada, and even Great
Britain and New Zealand.
Galloway says she never
dreamed the project would snowball into an undertaking of such epic proportions.
"Most of the work and
organization has been done from right here at this kitchen table," she
said. "And people have been touched by it form coast to coast across Canada
-- and even outside -- and I have been touched by them. It's amazing, in
this day and age, the significance of communication and what it can do."
Going through the accounts,
Galloway said she found some unifying themes.
"The feeling I get when
I look through these stories is . . . how young these women were,"
she said. "Even though many of them were in the armed forces, and saw a
lot of terrible things, many of them were still very naive."
Now that it's complete,
Galloway hopes the book stands as a reference for future generations, but
particularly for young women.
"I hope it will help them
realize that these women were really the forerunners of the equalization
of the genders," she said.
An avid painter who was
instrumental in the founding of the Gladstone-area Inter-Ridge Arts Council,
Galloway wants to turn her attention to painting for the next little while.
"Although when you're
73 years of age, you just hope you can get out of bed and get through the
day and find something to laugh about," she joked. "I have a lot of things
I'd like to do . . . I just hope the Good Lord spares me enough time
and energy and health to get them all done."
With typical modesty,
she says the Citizen of the Year award took her completely by surprise.
"I pretty near fell over,
and I still can't really absorb the fact that I received it," she said.
"But I guess if you're a person, and a good neighbour, and a good friend,
those are the prime requisites of being a good citizen. And I've tried
to do those things.