‘The Volunteers’: Halifax’s 1st monument to women depicts volunteer efforts during WWII
A new monument paying tribute to women was officially revealed at a ceremony at city hall on Thursday.
The monument, titled “The Volunteers/Le Bénévole,” is comprised of three full-sized bronze figures that show examples of volunteer work done by women, young and old, during the Second World War.
For women like 101-year-old Peggy McAlpine, who volunteered during the war and also helped with the unveiling, the monument’s design provides a sense of pride.
“It’s so well done and so realistic,” McAlpine said. “I can see personalities in the faces there.”
Less than two years ago, the Halifax Women’s History Society (HWHS) launched a program called “A Woman on the Waterfront” (WOW) to raise money for a monument of a woman.
Each of the figures depicts women from three generations, one of whom is African Nova Scotian.
The “Young Girl with Wagon” depicts part of the war effort’s salvage drive. The “African Nova Scotian Woman” depicts a woman helping serve black servicemen meals as canteens and clubs were segregated. “Woman with Knitting” shows the work thousands of Canadians did by knitting socks, caps, sweaters and other comfort items.
All three figures were designed by award-winning Canadian artist Marlene Hilton Moore, who is originally from New Brunswick. She was chosen in a national competition to create the new artwork.
“I’m very, very excited,” Hilton Moore said. “Number one; it’s a commission, it’s a sculpture of mine that’s going to be in the Maritimes and I’m a Maritimer and the other thing is that it’s honouring women and the work that women do.”
WOW chairwoman Janet Guildford said Thursday that Hilton Moore’s design met all the criteria “for this first, historic monument to women in Halifax.”
“This is an important day for the society, for Halifax and for Canada,” she told reporters.
“Obviously it’s way overdue and it’s important to recognize because it was important. The service that women have provided to any society, often invisible, but vitally important and I think this war work was absolutely no exception.”
In Halifax, there are fewer than a dozen statues that show women out of the approximately 280 found throughout the city.
“There’s the odd little bust or sign or plaque somewhere but this is the first recognition of the contribution that women have made to the history of the city,” Guilford said.
It’s expected “The Volunteers/Le Bénévole” will be unveiled near the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on the waterfront in mid-November.
– With files from Natasha Pace, Global News
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