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Niagara Falls
Thursday, April 18, 2024
Exploring Photos: Margherita Howe, 1942
Margherita How, the founder of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Conservancy, served as an ambulance driver in the Second World War. SUPPLIED

Before Margherita Howe became known as an environmental champion and the co-founder of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Conservancy, she enlisted on Jan. 2, 1942, to help serve her country during the Second World War. She was one of the more than 50,000 women who enlisted and could be found working as switchboard and radar operators, mechanics, clerks, nurses, truck and ambulance drivers, and more. Howe was sent for training at the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (RCASC) motor vehicle course in Toronto where she became an ambulance driver. She was assigned to transport prisoners of war from the Chorley Park Military Hospital, which was part of “Camp M,” to the Christie Street Hospital and back. She wrote that “the German prisoners seemed very morose or possibly they were apprehensive with a female driving!” She would also spend two years in eastern Canada with service corps. In 1945, she stated that she “retired” from service. Perhaps it was the war years that gave Howe such an indomitable spirit because in the decades that followed it was her determination, passion and fierceness that resulted in landmark rulings that have protected drinking water for Niagara and the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. During Women’s History Month, we raise a dry gin martini (a beloved drink of hers) to Margherita Howe!

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