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Living with War
Albertans experienced unprecedented change during the war years, 1939-1945. Alberta’s civic leaders and citizens alike struggled to keep up with the many changes imposed by both the federal and provincial governments. The pace of the change was often frantic and the amount of work never seemed to end. Volunteer organizations rushed to meet the needs of the citizen soldiers overseas. Households and industry in urban and rural Alberta rationed supplies to free up materials for military production. Citizens were encouraged again and again to invest in Victory Bonds and War Savings Stamps to keep the war machine running.
The volume of newcomers to the province rivalled previous waves of immigrants. British Commonwealth and American soldiers became commonplace in local eateries and social clubs. As a result of this influx, some Alberta communities doubled or even tripled in population, leading to housing shortages.
Many Alberta women struggled to find a role for themselves and to strike the right balance between that which had been expected of them (nurturers and caregivers) and what the new wartime economy now demanded of them (factory workers, farmers, office workers, members of the military and so on).
In spite of changes, hard work and sacrifices associated with the war, Albertans required time to recreate. Dance halls, pubs, restaurants and theatres did a booming business. Hit parades on the radio and movies were hugely popular, and with each generation came a flourish of new fashions, often mimicking the stars of stage of screen (fashion scene).
For some Albertans the onset of the war placed them in very grave circumstances. Albertans whose families had come to Canada from so-called “enemy states” and recently arrived German, Italian and Japanese nationals bore the brunt of much suspicion, criticism and racism. German, Italian, and Japanese communities in Alberta struggled during the war and for many years after to demonstrate and prove their allegiance to their adopted country.