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]