Skip to main content

Washing Machine

Curated Submission
1930 - 1940
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
74 x 122
Materials & techniques
Wood, metal; Industrial manufacturing
Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre 988.021.001
This wooden tub washing machine was used by Celine Bouvier in the community of Fort Providence during the Second World War. Beginning in 1939 the government stationed a regiment of Royal Canadian Corp of Signals in Fort Providence to man a radio station connecting to a nationwide communication network. This service was taken over by the United States Army in 1942–43 during mobilization and construction of wartime transportation projects in the Northwest Territories. There were very few businesses in the small trading and mission post along the banks of the Mackenzie River at the time. Bouvier saw a business opportunity and informally arranged with the radio and army personnel, as well as the local RCMP, to do their laundry.
Her laundry services likely continued after the war, as government workers and RCMP remained stationed in the area. By the early 1960s the washing machine was antiquated, and Bouvier was ready to throw it out. She hired Sig Phillip who owned one of the only trucks in town to take it to the dump, but he purchased the unique washing machine instead. It was a museum piece in the community for many years, reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit of Fort Providence’s residents during the busy days of the war.
There are no manufacturer markings on the laundry machine, but it compares to early 20th-century models produced by the Michigan Washing Machine Company in the United States, as well as to models sold in Canada during the 1930s, such as the Diamond A sanitary washer. The manual machine operated without electric motors.
Submit a related artifact
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Email More...

Main sponsors

  • Logo of the Imperial Oil Foundation with accompanying characteristic oval 'Esso' symbol.

Institutional partners