Meet Dorothy Browne.
How does one even begin to describe the verve and energy of this amazing 96 year old from Saskatchewan who's always impeccably groomed, perfectly coiffured and up for any occasion, especially if it involves dance. Dorothy has been dancing with Blueheel Dance Studio since 2014, an icon and an inspiration to our other dancers as she glides across the floor in a beautiful waltz or cavorts to a cheeky cha cha.
Dorothy's energy, wit and wicked sense of humour belie her 96 years of age. A survivor of the hardships and challenges of World War ll, she has seen as much adversity as she has joy, yet maintains such a healthy, positive attitude.
Born in Leroy, Saskatchewan in 1924, Dorothy has always been fiercely independent and filled with a sense of adventure that used to get her into a lot of trouble growing up. She spent many a summer at her Uncle's farm, which accounts for her very practical approach to life. Somehow though, it's hard to imagine this elegant lady frolicking in the mud, managing to lasso a pig and ride it squealing around the pen. Poor pig didn't have a chance!
A restless teenage at 18, she saw an ad in the local paper by the Canadian Government recruiting women to help in the war effort. The demand for labour by Wartime Industry was high since most young men in the labour force were already enlisted in the armed forces. Small Arms, Ltd. began offering jobs to single women or married women without children with husbands in the armed forces. So she packed her bag, took the train from Saskatoon to Toronto and began her new life.
Always on the forefront
After a six-week course where she got to work on blueprints, lathes and other machines, Dorothy began her job as an Inspection Officer at Small Arms. "At the end of my assembly line, which contained electric drills, the components came off, the assembly line. We took those components and our job was to gage them to the proper specifications. Now if there was the least little thing off centre, it was discarded, because even a little burr of metal can do damage to one of those guns and we knew there was a life in our hands and it was up to us. It was a job that we were proud of, I was proud of, very proud of".
We owe a debt to women like Dorothy and the 16,000 women who worked in the massive Lakeview Small Arms Munitions factory during the Second World War who manufactured millions of Sten guns and Lee-Enfield rifles that the Allied soldiers used to win the war. Their contribution to the war effort "helped to advance women's rights and build the modern Canadian economy by remaining in the workforce after the war ended in 1945".
After the war, Dorothy worked with a law firm, doing the accounts, banking and trusts investments and true to her nature, she always balanced the books, down to the last penny - no rounding errors here! "I went to work for a law firm, and I stayed actually at that law firm for 40 years. Same law firm, we did amalgamate, the last few years with a larger firm. You can imagine going from a small firm that I managed, I was in accounting, and I did all the book work. You can imagine 3 or 4 lawyers, a law clerk going from there to a large firm with 45 lawyers. But it was a good experience".
Then and now, Dorothy has been a force to be reckoned with.
When asked her secret, she says "Never give up. And always be grateful for what you have."
I went to work for a law firm, and I stayed actually at that law firm for 40 years. Same law firm, we did amalgamate, the last few years with a larger firm. You can imagine going from a small firm that I managed, I was in accounting, and I did all the book work. You can imagine 3 or 4 lawyers, a law