Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day, when the special contributions women make to society in all walks of life are celebrated. We have many remarkable shoes belonging to many remarkable women in the collection of the Bata Shoe Museum and as we like to say, every shoe tells a story. So this year, on this day, we wanted to tell the story of Patricia Fish through her army boots from the 1940s.  Her daughter, Hilary Lee, wrote the following when she donated them to the BSM in 2002.

“Patricia Fish was born on February 19, 1921 in Hamilton, Ontario. She spent her formative years moving back and forth between Canada and England, because of her father’s work. She was living in England when the World War II broke out and together with her father and brother, joined the Home Guard. In 1942, while still living in England, she enlisted in the Canadian Women's Army Corps because she felt the cause was just and she wanted to contribute. She was given the rank of Private. From time to time she was stationed in Brussels at CWAC headquarters where she was part of a typing pool. At other times, she was part of the contingent that followed behind the front lines where she could hear the artillery fire in the distance. In Belgium and Holland, she fulfilled her 100 hours of nursing taking care of burn victims, both adults and children. When stationed in England, she delivered messages between offices using a bicycle. She said that this job scared her the most because you never knew what was contained in the message you were carrying - one time it could be regular army paperwork, another time it could be top secret - and occasionally it could be a decoy message.  She had to be aware of anyone approaching her, and was even watchful of the planes overhead. She told of biking along with her message when a plane started flying directly overhead. When she made a turn, more to calm her nerves and let the plane fly on, the plane turned too. Apparently she pedaled faster than she ever had in her life so she could make it to her drop point. 

After the war, she remained in England and worked for a Member of Parliament. After she married in 1948, she returned to Canada and worked for A. V. Roe. Later in life she worked for the CBC and University of Toronto. In her private life, she was very active in the peace movement in the sixties and later became a member of Greenpeace. She traveled throughout the world, and attended many WWII anniversary events in Europe. She kept in touch with her army buddies until her death in 1999."