Bomb Girls tells story of working women in wartime Canadian

The Second World War brought Canadian women out of the home and into the workforce.  Thousands were employed in an Ontario munitions factory, helping in the war effort, earning their own paycheques and standing on their own two feet as their men fought overseas.

Bomb Girls, starting season two Jan. 4 ET/PT at 8 p.m., continues as they navigate life at Victory Munitions and on the home front.

Meg Tilly plays Lorna, the floor supervisor: Lorna’s a great leader.

She’s stoic, efficient and level headed.  But her home life is unstable.

That’s what I love about her.  Everybody has light and dark and joys and sorrows and they’re all intermingled.  There is no good one or bad one.  We finished season one with her pregnant and pregnant women aren’t allowed to work on the line.  Lorna has always been a by-the-rules person and the whole situation changes her.  In season two, because of this, she’s not so rigid.  She’s broken several rules.  She did things that were wrong if you’re going to go black and white.  I think she’s got more compassion and sees more shades of grey.  That’s a shift.

How did the work change women?

It contributed to the feminist movement.  All these capable women who were underutilized found themselves out there doing useful things.  Usually women would be born in a town, be raised in the town, marry and die in the town.  And all of a sudden women made decisions.  They came from all over the country to work in the plant.

It’s really important to show the change that happened with women. Everything changed, that’s what (The Second World War) was to us.  The focus is usually on the sacrifices of the men, but now we see the women and how they changed our country and how they effected change.   And now I see that time so differently.  I think back to my grandparents. I wish they were alive now so I could talk to them about what their experiences were like.  People are lucky if they still have people alive who can talk about it. It wasn’t that long ago.

What happened to the women after the war?

That was a shock. Those were the dark years, some of them call it. All of a sudden it was over. And the men came home and it was changed.  And everyone’s trying to pretend it was exactly the way it was before the war and it wasn’t.  Everyone was dealing with this huge shift and women lost loved ones, fathers, brothers, lovers, husbands and they’re dealing with other loss, loss of identity and self.  They worked and grew and bloomed and felt useful for something other than baby rearing and cleaning the house, and then suddenly they had to ask for permission to buy a hat.  I remember seeing interviews from this one woman.  She said it only takes so long to clean the house.

You’re working hard, and then it’s gone.  And the woman said, “Until I had my baby, those were the dark years.”

Bomb Girls is topical, with references to events in Oshawa or the possibility of Nazi planes flying over Canada.  

I didn’t know how close we came to ... I didn’t know.

The storylines are amazing.

I read (Second World War) tweets every day — 3,000 killed in bombing in England and you see photos of the streets and think, “Wow, how is it possible?”  I didn’t realize the extent of what happened.  You read Hitler meets with so and so.  Hitler says he’s not invading anyone, and then he invades.

There were Nazi prison camps in Canada?

I know.  I didn’t know that. And that’s in the show.

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