As our logo says, Pemberton Holmes was established in 1887. This date has given the family-run company time to not only amass an extensive history, but also to grow an archive of materials that go along with that history. In the spirit of remembrance this November, we will be pulling out a few items from our archives to take a closer look at the lives and losses of those before us in this three-part article series.

This week, we want to highlight two amazing photos we have within our archives. The photos below were taken in Stadacona Park, Victoria. The women were V.A.D’s (Voluntary Aid Detachment), which was a unit of voluntary civilians that provided nursing care for military personnel during the First and Second World War. VAD’s also assisted in the “Spanish” flu pandemic of 1918.

But how else were women involved in the First and Second World War, and specifically on a local level? While we cannot completely cover the extent of their great contribution, we can highlight a few areas that their efforts were invaluable. In addition to those enlisted in auxiliary units (particularly during the Second World War) women were involved at every level on the home front, from factory and farm work, even to top secret operations with MI-6 like this Vancouver Island woman was. During the Second World War, the Victoria shipyards employed around 2500 workers, of which nearly 500 were women!

Interested in learning more about the experience of Vancouver Island women during the World Wars? Check out this link. Want to learn more about the Pemberton Holmes family’s history? Check it out here.