The Canadian "Rosie The Riverter"-Veronica Foster

While browsing thru this cool dance book I own (and blogged about before) called “Let’s Dance: A Celebration of  Ontario’s Dance Halls” my friend stumbled up a  picture of a girl dancing jitterbug and the caption said she was the “Bren Gun Girl“. My friend turned to me and said “Do you know what a Bren Gun Girl is?” I replied with a big question mark and quickly ran to the internet for answers and what I found was pretty cool!

The Bren Gun Girl according to Wikipedia was a young woman named “Veronica Foster” who became a Canadian icon representing nearly one million Canadian women who worked in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and material during World War II. She was popularly known as “Ronnie, the Bren Gun Girl” and worked for the company John Inglis Co. Ltd producing Bren light machine guns on a production line on Strachan Avenue in Toronto, Ontario (Where I live! And now called “Liberty Village”). She became popular after a series of propaganda posters were produced; most images featured her working for the war effort, but others depicted more casual settings like Foster dancing the jitterbug  (just like the image we found in my book) or attending a dinner party.

She can be seen as the Canadian precursor to the American fictional propaganda tool Rosie the Riveter (Source-Wikipedia).

Bren Gun Girl
Source: Wikipedia

Image comment: I find it interesting that she is smoking in this picture. I know in the TV Show Bomb Girls that would not be allowed but maybe it is because she is posing with a gun and not a bomb 🙂

Note from Laura-Veronica’s Daughter:

Just to clarify a small fact… my mother never smoked. The photographer wanted her to smoke because I guess it was considered sexy in those days and smoking was supposed to be the socially acceptable cool in those days. Up until a few years ago you could smoke anywhere you wanted at any time. But… my mother never smoked… just for the “Ronnie” photos.

Now for some more pictures of our Canadian Rosie the Riveter

Inspecting a lathe at the John Inglis Co. Bren gun plant

Bren Gun Girl
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Demonstrating the use of a kerchief to protect the hair of female employees from being caught in machinery

Bren gun girl
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Playing Baseball. The site of the photo is in what is now Liberty Village in Toronto. 

Bren Gun Girl
Source: Preserved Stories
Ronnie Bren Gun Girl
Source: Preserved Stories

Preparing to go to a party at the Glen Eagle Country Club.

Bren gun Girl Veronica Foster
Source: Library and Archives Canada
Bren Gun Girl Veronica
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Jitterbugging with plant foreman Bill Ward during a party at the Glen.

Veronica Foster Bren Gun Girl
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Love the shot of her dress in this image and the dance pose as well!

Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl

After the War

After the war, Foster worked as a model and musician. She married a musician. The couple had 5 children.

Want to see more?

  • Here is a video on Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl done by CBC a few years ago. This video was pointed out to me by one of her daughters Laura. CLICK HERE
  • And check out this 2016 Blog Post with another story about Ronnie..HERE.

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To end this post I want to leave you with this great video to watch on our “Rosies of the North” Click Here

Liz 🙂

 

23 comments on “The Canadian “Rosie the Riveter”-Veronica Foster”

  1. She was such a bombshell (WW2 pun entirely intended). I discovered her via Pinterest a while back and then proceed to “stalk” her on the web, too. I had to see and learn more about this hard working, total babe of a factory employee. I really adore that you shone the spotlight on Veronica here (I’m so going to include a mention of this post in my next end of the month link roundup – more folks, inside and out of Canada, need to learn about or Rosie of the Great White North).

    ♥ Jessica

    • Isn’t she just amazing? I would of totally loved to have met her. Such a great story and now I to am just a bit obsessed 🙂

      Ahh thanks for thinking to share! Would be great to spread the love of some good Cdn history with everyone.

      Liz 🙂

  2. I am Veronica “Ronnie” Foster’s daughter. My mother only had 5 children. I am thrilled that there is so much interest in my mother and what she represented to Canadian women then and now. Thank you for keeping it alive.

    • Oh my! Thank you for stopping by ad commenting! Your mother is truly and inspiration and I’m just fascinated by her part in the war effort. But not just me I know lots of women everywhere share the same sentiment. You were very lucky to have had such an inspiration as your mother.

      • @tovintagelizze thank you. She was an amazing woman. She became a widow at 41 years old with 5 children. She missed my father everyday of her life until she passed 37 years later. Thank you for your interest. Best, Laura x

        • Sigh how sad but she had to be strong I’m sure. I would love to know more about her life and maybe do a follow up piece on her. Would that be something you would be interested in doing? Not sure if you have stories or pictures from her life with your father, her life as a worker during the war? Would be so fascinating to know more. Let me know. Liz 🙂

          • The CBC contacted my family a few years ago to get information on my mother as they were doing a 6 part documentary called Love, Hate and Propaganda. Here is a youtube link on the excerpt of the part of the documentary which included my mother. My brother augmented it with more information on her life after Ronnie The Bren Gun Girl. http://youtu.be/-E0KvWve-9g . Perhaps this will give you some more information.

            Regards,
            Laura x

  3. Just to clarify a small fact… my mother never smoked. The photographer wanted her to smoke because I guess it was considered sexy in those days and smoking was supposed to be the socially acceptable cool in those days. Up until a few years ago you could smoke anywhere you wanted at any time. But… my mother never smoked… just for the “Ronnie” photos. Laura x

    • That is a good fact (I will actually make a note of that in my blog). I figured that it was just a “look I’m cool” photo. I also added the video you sent me to the end of the blog. Great piece. Thanks again! Liz

  4. Great post, Liz! I bought a very similar dress online while trying to find the right thing to wear to the Swing Fever event. It is so badly damaged as to be unwearable, alas, but it is so very pretty with the pleated waist detail.

  5. I love shopping at this online store. There is a huge variety of items that are no longer available anywhere else, that I know of. New vintage style clothes for the while family, potato chips in tins, cleaning products, home decor, etc. all at very high quality… have a look. Thought you would enjoy this:
    http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/store/

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