History Frequently Asked Questions

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Probably not.  Outpost hospitals were administered by provincial Red Cross divisions and local Red Cross branches, rather than by the National Office.  Provincial and national annual reports for the relevant years might contain some mention of your particular hospital or nurse, but the CRCNA does not have detailed records of outposts or their staff.

Our most extensive information relates to Canadian Red Cross founder Dr. G.S. Ryerson, for whom we have some personal papers and memorabilia.  We do not have specific files or papers relating to other Red Cross leaders over the years, but information about them can be gleaned from the historic annual reports, and in the minutes of the National Executive Committee, available for consultation in our archives.

No, we don’t.  We do not have records of servicemen or civilians who experienced this sort of thing, and the hospital visits, dinner invitations, “ditty bags” of necessities, Christmas cheer parcels, and other work of the Red Cross in such situations was coordinated locally or provincially.

No, we do not have a museum, and we do have an extensive collection of knitting booklets already.  However, if the one you found has a personal story attached to it, contains personal notes/clippings or other unique content, or covers an area of knitting work we do not already have a booklet for [*there were instructions for soldiers, civilians, men, women, children, etc.], we may be interested in acquiring it for our archives.  Please contact us to inquire: Archives at archives@redcross.ca

Unfortunately we do not have the resources or staff to do your research for you.  Historical highlights of our work can be found here in the history section of our website, and national annual reports containing many details of our work are available here as well, for you to peruse.  Please feel free to make an appointment to consult our archival holdings at National Office in Ottawa at archives@redcross.ca.

We have both the national annual reports of the entire Canadian Red Cross Society (including blood), and also the annual reports of the Blood Transfusion Service specifically, from 1946 onward.  We also have a copy of the 1997 final report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Blood System in Canada. 

Records relating to blood donation in Canada after 1998 are held by Canadian Blood Services and Héma Québec.

Please see our “Spotlight On... POWs” section, here in the history section of this website.  We also have some archival material on food parcels that can be consulted in person at the Canadian Red Cross National Archive in Ottawa.

Many Junior Red Cross songs, plays, poems, games, and the like are contained in the pages of the Canadian Red Cross Junior, the national Junior Red Cross magazine.  We have bound copies of the magazine from 1922-1971, available for consultation in our archives.

The Canadian Red Cross Society was proud to offer assistance to war brides both during their ocean-crossing on war bride transports, and upon arrival in Canada, at the end of the Second World War.  The Red Cross volunteers most closely associated with this assistance were Escort Officers drawn from the ranks of the Canadian Red Cross Corps.  Although the Red Cross was an integral part of welcoming war brides, it did not keep any records of the women and children coming to Canada.  This was the responsibility of the Canadian government.  Pier 21 Museum in Halifax (where most war brides and immigrants arrived in that period) may have further information to assist your search.

No.  All records of POWs are maintained by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Probably not.  There are two reasons for this.

The first reason is a lack of surviving records (or lack of records in the first place).  Millions of women in many countries worked as volunteer knitters, sewers, POW parcel-packers, branch executive members, canvassers, hospital visitors, letter-writers, record-keepers, VADs, drivers (etc.) for a host of national Red Cross societies (Canadian, British, French, American, German, Belgian, Italian, International, etc.) during both world wars.  Your mother might have worked for any of these.  Records of wartime local and provincial branch volunteers in Canada have long since been destroyed (if they existed in the first place), and the National Office never held comprehensive records of volunteers across Canada. 

The second reason is a historic tendency to imprecisely use the terms “Red Cross work” and “Red Cross nurse.” Many women did what they loosely termed “Red Cross work” (raising money, knitting and sewing for soldiers, etc.) for a wide variety of wartime charities (including but not limited to the Red Cross) through their regular church groups, clubs, and workplaces.  The Red Cross never had records of these volunteers, nor did all of this so-called “Red Cross work” actually have anything to do with the Red Cross itself.  Similarly, many people used the term “Red Cross nurse” to apply to any woman who did some kind of hospital-based volunteer work, including hospital visiting, VAD work (untrained nursing helpers who were administered in Canada by the St. John Ambulance Association), or military nursing (trained nurses who were actual members of the Canadian armed forces). 

The one exception (for which we do have records) comes from the Second World War.  Canadian women enrolled in the Canadian Red Cross Corps who served in the Overseas Detachment or as Escort Officers on war bride transports are included in our service records of the CRCC-Overseas Detachment.  These records are confidential, and can only be accessed by the women in question or their immediate descendants.

The archives may be consulted by appointment only, Monday to Friday, 9am-3pm.