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ARCHIVED - Canadian War Industry during the Second World War

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Highlights of the Collection

Themes

Plant Safety/Care of Workers


Veronica Foster, an employee of John Inglis Co. Ltd. known as 'The Bren Gun Girl', demonstrating the use of a kerchief to protect the hair of female employees from being caught in machinery

Veronica Foster, an employee of John Inglis Co. Ltd. known as "The Bren Gun Girl", demonstrating the use of a kerchief to protect the hair of female employees from being caught in machinery
e000760463 Source

Women workers select piped music to play in the central control room of a Montreal factory

Women workers select piped music to play in the central control room of a Montreal factory
e000761849 Source

 

Woman factory worker files a machine part while piped music plays on loudspeakers

Woman factory worker files a machine part while piped music plays on loudspeakers
e000761847 Source

Workman wearing protective goggles, mask and mitts operating a lead casting wheel at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Ltd. plant

Workman wearing protective goggles, mask and mitts operating a lead casting wheel at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Ltd. plant
e000761383 Source

 

Female shipyard workers walking down a path returning to work after a 30-minute lunch break in the shipyard cafeteria

Female shipyard workers walking down a path returning to work after a 30-minute lunch break in the shipyard cafeteria
e000762756 Source

Male students eat lunch at a table in the cafeteria of the Central Technical School

Male students eat lunch at a table in the cafeteria of the Central Technical School
e000761549 Source

 

Efforts were made to demonstrate a reciprocal relationship between the company and its workers.

For example, the company provided work, pay and in some cases, housing, cafeterias and entertainment for its workers. The Polymer Corporation provided bowling lanes and baseball games for its employees.

Posters warning about the hazards of working with explosive material were reminders of the dangers in the work environment. Other images document the importance of safety and health and first-aid services available to staff are also documented. Numerous photographs of workers wearing appropriate protective gear such as goggles, gloves, or aprons are also visible.

Questionable working conditions are also documented, as in this photograph of an interior scene of an aluminum factory. Fine alumina dust cover these workmen who are working without breathing apparatus. Other images of workers working under physically demanding conditions are evident, for example under adverse weather conditions or when working with molten metals.

Although the worker was provided with elements of safety and comfort, the importance of maintaining high production rates remained to be the bottom line. Photographs demonstrate the push for efficiency through the broadcasting of piped Muzak, "scientifically-designed" to improve productivity and efficiency. The 'war machine' demanded that munitions, ships, tanks and other equipment and supsies be shipped out in a steady stream.


 
 

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