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Hard Labour for Young Girls

Heroes Remember

Hard Labour for Young Girls

There’s a place called The Sweet Water Canal, so I remember travelling down there and here’s these young girls about oh, fourteen to sixteen years of age, weighing around 68 to 75 pounds. And do you remember your old grandmother’s great big basket, willow baskets for laundry basket? Well, you’d see them get loaded with mud cement and three men picked them up and set them on their head and they’d walk up and they were building bridges. And when they walked up they’d come and take it off the girl’s head and dump it, put it back on her head. They’d walk back down, this was one girl. Guys said, “Oh, you’re crazy, you couldn’t pick, that’s not that heavy, blah blah blah.” So I stopped and I spoke to, a little bit in Arabic and I said, “Just watch.” I said, “Now you three pick that one up.” It was a shock to them how heavy it was. This basket full of wet mud cement, it’s like a mud clay cement they make up and put it on. These girls walk up and down all day doing that. Same thing as you’d see young girls going early in the morning, eight miles to get two and a half gallon jug of water, set it on their head and walk back and you say, well how can they do it? Well, they read books, they skipped, they told stories to one another, whatever you know. You knew that they were young teenagers talking with one another. But they walked four hours to get water and four hours back. So it’s hard to realize that when we live over here, and the difference over there.

Mr. Gourlay speaks about the role of the young women and the hard labour they endured.

Ronald Gourlay

Mr. Ronald Gourlay was born in Dundee, Scotland on March 21, 1939. Growing up during the Second World War enforced the desire of wanting to be a part of the military. After moving to New Brunswick, Canada, in 1956, Mr. Gourlay first joined the Royal Canadian Army Service Corp. He travelled to Camp Borden to obtain training and after six months took on a trade in transport. Mr. Gourlay’s military service took him to Germany from 1957 to 1959, Egypt from 1960 to 1963, Cyprus from 1963 to 1965 and again in 1971. In 1983, Mr. Gourlay retired from the military. During his military career he travelled to 34 countries in 27 years. Mr. Gourlay speaks to youth about his experiences and has great pride for the service provided by his regiment.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ronald Gourlay
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Army Service Corps

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