On the Firing Line: Women Journalists at War

Debbie Marshall

Submitted Article

Tuesday, April 11 2017

A group of women wrapped in furs and warm winter cloaks stands on the quay at Boulogne. Around them surges a blue, red, and khaki sea of French, British, and Belgian soldiers. White-veiled nurses run alongside patients being carried on stretchers onto waiting ships. There are shouts, marching orders, and whistles as the women stand silently watching, absorbing the details of what they are seeing, overcome by the reality that they are on the doorstep of the Great War. They are the first party of female Canadian journalists allowed into France to visit the lines of communication. 

The party includes Beatrice Nasmyth, Mary MacLeod Moore, and Elizabeth Montizambert. They are “special correspondents,” posted overseas to provide a female perspective on the conflict. 

It is a time when fewer than two hundred Canadian women are working as journalists, compared to about 1,500 men. The women will send home hundreds of articles describing the impact of the war on women on the home front as well as women living and working near the fighting. Their stories will also include rare insights into the emotional and physical lives of the men in the trenches—in particular, Canadian men. 

Many of those stories are told in Firing Lines: Three Canadian Women Write the First World War (Dundurn: 2017) by Gabriola writer Debbie Marshall.  

As part of its 2017 Talk Series, the Gabriola Museum will host Marshall in a multimedia presentation featuring live music and performances at the Roxy Theatre on April 20, at 7:00 pm. 

All are welcome. 

By donation.