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).
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
Demonstrating the use of a kerchief to protect the hair of female employees from being caught in machinery
Playing Baseball. The site of the photo is in what is now Liberty Village in Toronto.
Preparing to go to a party at the Glen Eagle Country Club.
Jitterbugging with plant foreman Bill Ward during a party at the Glen.
Love the shot of her dress in this image and the dance pose as well!
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.
To end this post I want to leave you with this great video to watch on our “Rosies of the North” Click Here