WOMEN


Waitresses awaiting troops.

Along with men, the building of the Alaska Highway brought women to the north. They came either with their families, as nurses or single and unemployed. They were looking for excitement, money and adventure.

Until the construction of the highway, the Yukon's population was approximately 5000 people, with an average of two men to one woman. However, when the soldiers arrived this ratio jumped to about twenty four to one in most places. This led to a conflict for women....
As a good hostess, these women were expected to "entertain" these soldiers, although society did not openly encourage physical relationships. This illustrated a double standard of the time.

Since the men were working on the highway they often left these women. Unfortunately, pregnant, unmarried women would usually lose their jobs. This baby boom put a severe strain on women's resources.

Prostitution was also common in all highway communities, legally in Alaska and illegally in the Yukon. STD's were on the rise and the only form of protection available for couples were condoms. Occasionally doctors received government sanctions to find out who was disease free.

Another common place problem was rape and other sexual offences. There were many convictions in Whitehorse of indecent assault, often alcohol related. Sometimes these incidents were ignored or the blame was placed on the women for enticing the offender.

HEALTH

The building of the Alaska Highway led to health problems in the north which local residents had never dealt with before. The highway construction disrupted the lives of the local First Nations. Many diseases were brought in by the workers. Since the First Nations people had not been exposed to these diseases before this time many outbreaks swelled to epidemic proportions. Measles, pneumonia, influenza, meningitis, whooping cough and mumps spelled disaster for these people. As a result there was a population decrease among the First Nations people.


Nurses outside temporary headquarters.
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