A Tribute to Fern Blodgett Sunde: first female radio operator to go to sea
For immediate release: October 17, 2020 – Cobourg, Ontario
We cordially invite you to the virtual unveiling ceremony of the Fern Blodgett Sunde bronze monument, to be held today (Saturday, October 17, 2020) at 1:15 pm Eastern Daylight Time.
The ceremony will take place in the meditation garden, Victoria Park, Cobourg, by Lake Ontario.
Fern Blodgett Sunde (1918-1991) grew up in Cobourg, with a dream of sailing the high seas. Determined to serve Canada when WWII broke out, she became the first Canadian woman to graduate with a professional wireless radio operator’s certificate, and the first woman ever to work deep sea as a ship’s radio operator (“Sparks”).
A fluke in Norwegian regulations, a shortage of radio operators, and her own persistence allowed her to sign onto the M/S Mosdale, a Norwegian merchant ship. Fern carried out her duties with outstanding competence and great courage during the Battle of the Atlantic.
It was incredibly dangerous, as Allied ships fighting to get personnel and crucial supplies to Britain faced U-boats, mined waters, enemy aircraft, and the perils of the sea as battlefield.
Fern was aboard 78 of the Mosdale’s record 96 transatlantic crossings, opening the door to a sisterhood of Sparks.
In 1943, she was awarded the Norwegian War Medal, the first woman ever to receive the honour.
Speakers will include His Excellency Jon Elvedal Fredriksen, Norway’s Ambassador to Canada; Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett, Royal Canadian Navy; Dr. Richard Gimblett, Command Historian of the Royal Canadian Navy (retired); Dr. Stéphanie Bélanger, Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research and Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada; Tyler Fauvelle, professional Canadian sculptor who created the monument.
Please join us! Soyez des nôtres en ligne pour cette celebration!
For more information about Fern Blodgett Sunde and her amazing achievement please click here.
Leona Woods, Chair and Helen Vari, Honourary Chair
Fern Blodgett Sunde and the Battle of the Atlantic Commemoration 2020