Keshen Sisters Overseas

Canadian Red Cross Corps: The Keshen sisters overseas

Marion and Louise Keshen are best known as the philanthropists who, along with their brother-in-law Sam Goodman, gave Halifax the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and the Keshen-Goodman Library. Many years earlier, they also served overseas with the Canadian Red Cross Corps in the Second World War. 

Halifax Municipal Archives wants to share some of the images from a scrapbook documenting the Keshen sisters' WWII Red Cross service. The scrapbook forms part of CR19 Keshen Goodman family photographs.

Black & white photo of Keshen sisters standing in uniform in front of houses.

Louise and Marion eager to leave for Europe, 1945. HMA CR19-3-1.2b

The efforts of the Red Cross Corps volunteers were crucial for the war effort. During WWII, 15,000 women volunteered with the Corps. Marion and Louise were among 641 who served in the Overseas Detachment.

Black & white photo of Keshen sisters feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square

Louise and Marion in Trafalgar Square, London, UK, 1946. HMA CR19-3-1.2a

A "Red Cross Overseas trip scrapbook" given to the Municipal Archives includes many wonderful images of their trip, but gives no clues to what type of work the Keshen sisters did. Red Cross Corps volunteers worked as ambulance drivers, civil defence workers, welfare officers, and nurses, as well as accompanying war brides and their children to their new homes in Canada. Other images indicate that they worked in Switzerland and France, as well as England.

Black and white image of uniformed women working in a mobile kitchen serving 2 firemen waiting outside of van.


Louise and Marion were in their 30s when they served in Europe, and both continued to volunteer with the Red Cross after their return to Halifax. A 1950 image from their collection shows a Red Cross van providing food at a Musquodoboit forest fire.

Colour image of 2 nurses on either side of elderly woman lying in a bed in front of a window.


Like many Canadians, Marion Keshen was proud of her war service; she kept her Red Cross uniform the rest of her life. A photograph of Marion before her death shows her nurses dressed up in Marion's old Red Cross uniform.

Visit the Archives Database to see more of the Keshen Goodman family photographs.


•    History of the Canadian Red Cross Corps in WWII
•    Rebecca Cohn Auditorium history

More on Women's Wartime Service

Read about the incredible wartime service done on the home front in Halifax by the Women's Voluntary Services.