My Grandmother, Weapons Inspector

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Nov 07, 2016 12:00 AM

My grandmother, Victoria Roberts, grew up on the Quebec Lower North Shore (bordering Labrador). In December 1939, she got a job at the St.-Paul-Lermite war factory near Montreal, Quebec. Then 17, she left her home in Bradore Bay aboard a freighter bound for Montreal. For the duration of the war she lived in war housing a fair distance from her work. She told me that when she first walked in the factory, she didn’t think she would be able to stand the sound of all the machines buzzing.

As the naval inspector, my grandmother was entrusted with the job of making sure there was no defective ammunition being sent out and that the right number of each weapon was coming off the line. Employees in this factory worked with hand grenades, guns, land mines and many other weapons. They were also in charge of putting all the caps on the shells for the guns. Wearing face shields, they would pop the cap in the machine, and it would go around a conveyor and onto the shell. She told me every weapon had to be perfect because it could be the difference between life and death for an Allied soldier. When she made sure everything was correct, she gave the ammunition a literal stamp of approval.

My grandmother said that because she was so young, she did not really think of all the dangers of working with these weapons; however, she was very good at her job and she made many friends at the factory.

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Victoria (left) with a friend in Montreal, Quebec, during the Second World War.

It was during her return home after the war ended that she met my grandfather, Jack Roberts, travelling on the same boat. He was from St. Paul’s River, which is about 45 minutes from Bradore Bay. He was a soldier and had been stationed in Sicily, Italy. When they got home, he continued to visit her in Bradore and they eventually started dating. She said that on the ship, her friend fell in love with my grandfather’s uniform, but she fell in love with his eyes. It is definitely a fairytale love story. 

My grandfather passed away in 2008 and my grandmother turned 94 last month. She still lives in St. Paul’s River, on the Lower North Shore of Quebec. She and my grandfather had five boys and three girls.

My grandmother is a very loved woman. She has always been a very selfless and courageous lady, and anyone who meets her truly adores her. My family and I are very lucky to have her in our lives, and we will always be very thankful for her and my grandfather’s contribution to the war. By Brittanie Roberts