Art by Bill Galloway
Part 1
Brian Marshall
Brandon Sun ~ 
Monday, April 17, 2000

When we talk about the Second World War, reference is always made to the gallant men who gave their lives to ensure we would live in the greatest free country in the world. Seldom are women mentioned. Yet hundreds of thousands of women played key roles in that war at home and abroad. 

More than 50,000 served in the Canadian Armed Services, while a further 440,000 were involved in civilian labour forces, 750,000 in war industries, 760,000 on farms and another 4,5000 were Nursing Sisters (all officers, incidentally).

A group of women, who were connected through Royal Canadian Legion Auxiliaries, heard the stories of these women through their families, friends and associates. They decided that if those stories were not recorded in some fashion they would soon be lost with that generation.

So they decided to produce a book they would call Women of the War Years. It was an enormous undertaking but Peggy Galloway of Gladstone recruited Janet and Neil Goertzen and Catherine Smith of Gladstone, Bernice Nerbas of Brandon, Ruth Emisch of Carberry, Maureen Cox and Velma Clayton, Anna Dee Erickson and Bernice Welden of Dryden along with other family and friends to gather the stories for the book.

They were plagued by family illnesses which set their targeted deadline back. However, response to the book was overwhelming and they received more than 180 submissions.  They came from all over Canada, the United States, Great Britain and even New Zealand. As an interesting aside, most of the women involved in the war effort were born before they were declared persons in Canada in 1929.

But the book is now close to completion and they are currently planning its launch in Gladstone Legion Hall. They have not yet decided on a date, but Peggy said it would be set soon.

She also said the committee is still accepting donations to help defray costs of the book. If you would like to donate to the project just make your cheque payable to the Town of Gladstone with a reference that the cheque is for the Women of the War Years and send it to Box 593, Gladstone, R0J 0T0.

Peggy Galloway: Gladstone's Citizen of the Year
Collecting war-time stories leads to recognition
by David Schmeichel
Herald Leader Press
Tuesday, January 23, 2001
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 the globe.

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 council.

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 camp.

"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.



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