Industry

Industry

Next to farming, more conscientious objectors were employed in essential industries than in any other area. Like farming, however, this is an area where it is sometimes difficult to get information. With the forestry camp workers, the public knew who the men were and why they were working. In a factory, however, the only difference between a CO and a regular worker was that part of the CO's wage went to the Red Cross.

Some of this industrial work was so important that even if a worker wanted to join the army, he might not be allowed. Likewise, if a CO was already working in a factory and wanted to do other alternative service, he might have to stay in his position until the end of the war. In other cases, a CO could be transferred a number of times to more essential projects.

Frank J. Martens, for example, wore a number of different hats during the war. He started out in May 1942 at a forestry camp on Vancouver Island. There he had a road construction assignment. After only a short time, he left for a new assignment.  

“Dairy farming for T.M. Edwards on Prairie Central Road in Chilliwack was my new assignment [beginning] in June 1942. Besides milking twice a day, we cleared three acres of bush. With blasting, it was always a challenge to get out quickly after lighting the fuse. I am very thankful for my parents' prayers during that time." 

Less than a year later, he returned home to Alberta.

“In April 1943, my service changed to dryland farming for Mr. Ewing at Readymade, AB, near Coaldale."

Later that year he moved to Calgary.

“I was transferred to the Union Meat Packing Plant, Calgary, in September 1943. I got $35.00 a month and paid $20 monthly for rent."

He stayed under the alternative service program until 20 March 1946. [ASP, 122-123]

JReimer Wed, 03/02/2016 - 16:12

Industry - Page 2

Industry - Page 2

Later that year he moved to Calgary.

“I was transferred to the Union Meat Packing Plant, Calgary, in September 1943. I got $35.00 a month and paid $20 monthly for rent."

He stayed under the alternative service program until 20 March 1946. [ASP, 122-123]

Another CO packed coffee at H.L. McKinnon's Ltd. in Winnipeg in 1945.

“My experience was very ordinary in that my employer was Christian and sympathetic to several of us who worked in his factory as COs .” [MHC, 1015-25 

These short descriptions give us a small glimpse into the work these COs performed, but for many COs, the work wasn't anything special. It was a natural part of their life. Luckily, we do have some longer, more descriptive accounts of industrial work.

JReimer Wed, 03/02/2016 - 16:16

Industry - Page 3

Industry - Page 3

Jake M. Unrau served in a number of different places. He began in a forestry camp in Ontario and moved from there to a dairy farm in Manitoba.

“When the war started to wind down in 1944-45 and there was a chance to change working places, I started to work at Universal Machine Shop on Mary's Road, in St. Vital, Manitoba. While employed there, I learned some new trades: welding and foundry work involving molding patterns in the sand, which I enjoyed. My employer bought scrap aluminum from dealers in the city. Most of the scrap consisted of condemned airplane motors that had to be broken into smaller pieces so we could get them into a crucible pot, which was heated by a coke coal forced air burner until the aluminum became liquid. Then the molten metal was poured into these sand molds, which yielded the desired product. We made aluminum used-oil reclaimers [and] installed [them] on tractors, trucks and cars. We also made aluminum parts for cast iron Booker Stove Space Heaters used in homes and ships. I enjoyed making useful things out of discarded wartime airplane motors."

Like all other COs, Jake gave money to the Red Cross.

“From spring 1943 to fall 1945, I paid money to the Canadian Red Cross, which functioned to save lives, also during the time of the war. My donations consisted of a regular pay cheque deduction contribution of $15 per month for about 16 months, and the rest of the time it was from $3 to $7 a month. These were not easy times in my life but very worthwhile. I am thankful to God and to our Canadian government that allowed me to live according to my conscience as an objector to direct combat.” [ASP, 198-199]

JReimer Wed, 03/02/2016 - 16:21