Winnipeg Cab History / 73: Women
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Winnifred Powrie and Agnes Gatehouse, two of the first wave of women recruited to drive Winnipeg taxis in World War II.


"Chivalry Not Dead: Women Taxi Drivers Find No Cause For Acting Tough" by Ted Schrader. Winnipeg Evening Tribune, October 22, 1942, p. 13. Available online at

Winnipeg Cab History / 73


In 1932 the Transportation Employee's Association expressed its concern over advertising by several Winnipeg taxicab firms for women drivers. Responding to the concern, which was echoed by the Police Commission and the Committee on Health, the Winnipeg city council passed a bylaw which effectively barred women from being employed as taxi drivers. The TEA was naturally worried that women would be paid at a reduced rate, leading to male drivers being displaced, but the attitude of the police, the health committee and city council reflected a more general opposition to women working in "men's" jobs. This opposition lasted for decades.

World War II changed things temporarily. As in World War I, women were called on to fill jobs left vacant by men who were now serving in the armed forces. Some women chose to become taxi drivers and proved themselves well able handle the job, as they proved in many other occupations that had up to then been male preserves.

However, war work by women was generally regarded as an aberration. Once the war was over, women were expected to leave the labour force to make way for men. Those that refused were pressured into leaving or taking shorter shifts or were laid off. The rationales were varied the women were incapable of doing the job, the job was too dangerous for them, the women were taking work away from male breadwinners.

During the war Moore's Taxi employed 40 or 50 women as drivers. The number dwindled in the postwar years until 1958 when Moore's suddenly fired its last six women drivers. The excuse was that customers had complained that the women were unable to carry heavy luggage or assist with disabled passengers. On the other hand the women had supported the certification of a union as bargaining agent for Moore's drivers. Union officials claimed that this was the real reason for the firings.

Attitudes toward women cab drivers were not the same everywhere. In Paris women were driving horse cabs as early as 1907 and taxicabs well before World War I. See Les Femmes Cochers ( at


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