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Huron County author vows to honour Ontario Farmerettes

In 1949, Betty Stafford spent a summer helping the Allied war effort by working on farms in Essex County.

“We didn’t know it was going to make history, that’s for sure,” said Betty, who now lives in Huron County.

Betty was one of thousands of Ontario teen girls between the ages of 16-18 to volunteer to help with the war effort from 1941-1952 by taking the place of young men who turned in their shovels and forks for guns and tanks.

“Food needed to be produced, not only for the people of Ontario and Canada, it needed to be produced for our service men and women, and for our allies. The canning factories were going 24 hours a day, canning goods to ship across the Atlantic,” said Bonnie Sitter, a Huron County author who has made it her mission to remember Ontario’s forgotten Farmerettes.

Sitter wrote a book about Ontario’s Farmerette’s in 2019. She’s now helping to produce a documentary about their largely forgotten piece of World War II.

Time is of the essence as Ontario’s Farmerette’s, like the soldiers who fought in World War II, are slowly slipping away, taking their memories with them.

Bonnie Sitter shows John and Betty Stafford pictures from Ontario Farmerettes that worked on Ontario farms during World War II on Oct. 3, 2023. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)

“These girls did a really important job, and they’ve never been acknowledged for the hours of back breaking work they did, and I think the time has come to do that,” she said.

So too does Betty, who met her husband who was stationed at a nearby farming camp for boys back in 1949.

“They invited our camp over to their camp for a get together, and I met my wife that night, and eight years later, we were married,” said John Stafford, Betty’s husband.

“We were paid $40 a week, but rent came out of that. We had to pay for our living accommodations and our food. Tell you the truth, I don’t remember bringing home any money, but with what we had, we had a good time,” said John.

Ontario Farmerettes who worked on Ontario farms during World War II. (Source: Bonnie Sitter)

Sitter is looking for sponsors and supporters to help fund the Farmerette documentary that is currently under production, so this lost piece of Canada’s war history doesn’t end with the young girls and women who kept the food supply chain moving during war times.

You can learn more by visiting an online fundraiser, or by contacting Bonnie Sitter at

Sitter said a play about Ontario’s Farmerette’s will hit the Blyth Festival stage next summer. She’s also hopeful that a stamp honouring the Farmerette program will be approved shortly as well. Top Stories

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