The Monument Design

The Design for The Volunteers/Les Bénévoles

Photos: Bruce Bottomley

The Volunteers/Les Bénévoles is the first monument with full-sized bronze figures of women in Halifax’s history. It honors the work of thousands of women who volunteered during the Second World War. They have never been honored, but their work was extensive, varied and vital. Read about their story here.

The design, by well-known Canadian artist Marlene Hilton Moore was chosen in a national competition.

The three figures represent — an African Nova Scotia canteen worker with her tray (far left), an older woman with her Mi’kmaw basket containing knitting (far right) and a young girl with her wagon piled with salvage items (foreground).

Woman with Knitting

Hundreds of thousands of women supported the troops by knitting massive quantities of socks, caps, sweaters and other badly- needed comfort items. The Canadian Red Cross estimates that 750,000 volunteers knit 50 million articles during the Second World War.

African Nova Scotian Woman

Women fed more than 100,000 servicemen who passed through Halifax on their way to the war in Europe. Meals were one of the most important services women provided. The woman figure is helping serve meals to black servicemen. Canteens and clubs were segregated.

Young Girl with Wagon

Children were part of the volunteer war effort. The young girl is part of a salvage drive and is hauling her wagon full of pots, pans and broken toys. The Federal Government encouraged Canadians to salvage materials for conversion into airplanes, tanks and other weapons.