Cracknell, Joan

Joan Cracknell was born July 3, 1923 in Ottawa.  Her father worked for the federal government, and Joan grew up there in the interwar years, attending Ottawa Ladies’ College.  Times got tough when her father lost his job as the Depression set in, but he was able to pick up some work on the side.  That work unfortunately involved using some hazardous chemicals, and Joan’s mother fell ill, and died of cancer, likely because of those carcinogens.  Joan was able to graduate high school, and she took work at a war bond office.  She didn’t like the work though and wanted to do more, so she decided to join the RCAF Women’s Division (WDs).  Her initial training took place at Rockcliffe – not too far from her home.  Joan’s mother was very ill by this time, and she passed away early on in Joan’s time as a WD.  After Rockcliffe Joan went to Montreal, where she was trained in Morse Code.  The next stop would be British Columbia – after a long and uncomfortable train journey.  Joean was stationed at Alliford Bay, and her main task was to take down Morse Code messages.  On one occasion they experienced a Japanese submarine scare, and on another occasion Joan and a friend decided to hitchhike down to Mexico!  Joan spent about a year on the west coast, and when the war concluded she returned to Ottawa.  She had decided to take advantage of the military’s demobilization policies, and was ready to attend university.  She went to the University of Toronto, where she earned a degree in Occupational Therapy, and she took that knowledge to hospitals in Toronto and St. Thomas, helping veterans and other Canadians to recover and find their place in the postwar world.  Joan Cracknell was interviewed by Scott Masters in August 2023 at her home in Owen Sound.