To my Dear Family

Pte. Albert James Tufford was conscripted into the Canadian army early in 1918; by March, he was on his way overseas. Through the eleven months that he was in Europe, he sent dozens of postcards home to his family in the Niagara Falls region (his mother and younger sister) and the United States (his grandmother). In September 1918, he was sent to France; less than a month later, he was shot in the left arm and brought back to England. Tufford spent most of his eleven months at Witley Camp in Surrey, but traveled while on leave to Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. His correspondence with his family was very relaxed. He wrote a lot about the beauty of the places he visited and touched on the training he received. A few of the postcards went into detail about the wound he received in France and his medical treatment in England.

Making use of available materials

A letter home to Canada written on birch bark.

View PDF: PDF icon Birch Letter.pdf

Postcards from Camp Debert, Truro, Nova Scotia

Postcards were a routine way of corresponding quickly with family and friends in the age before e-mail. This rare collection shows Canadian infantry training and recreating at Camp Debert in Nova Scotia, ca. 1942.

Carry on, Canada!

The imagery on the postcard might seem more suited to the First World War than the Second, but it indicates the strength of imperial sentiment through the 1940s.

Cross, rifle, and maple leaf

Military, religious, and national symbols mingled in this postcard produced during the Second World War for the Quebec market.

Greetings from Folkestone

Souvenirs like this one gave a rosy view of life in CEF camps during the First World War, with pictures of church parade, a battalion band, a visit from the King, and "a bachelor's supper party."

"Gladden the hearts of our heroes"

Soldiers overseas treasured mail from home, a fact that this Toronto company hoped would help sell its products during the First World War.

Army, Navy and Air Force

This lettercard, published early in the Second World War, gave users a thumbnail sketch of the three services and described Canada's Battle Flag, shown in the background.

"There'll Always Be An England"

This patriotic postcard of the Second World War used a line from Vera Lynn's famous song. Other cards in the series offered equally stirring images.

"Do not begin now to tell me that I am foolish"

An unidentified British Columbia soldier gives his reasons for enlisting in the 50th Regiment, Gordon Highlanders, describes his training with the British Columbia Horse, and mentions attacks on German-owned businesses in Victoria.

An air letter from overseas

Air letters such as this one were distributed to servicemen and women in Britain, and were given priority in cargo space. Each person was allowed to send four air letters per month.

For more private communications

All letters written by soldiers were normally censored by their own officers, but they could request green Privilege (or Honour) Envelopes. These were not censored by their officers but by postal authorities in the rear areas, and allowed men to write of sensitive personal matters that they might not want their officers to know about.

Views of Shorncliffe camp

A New Brunswick soldier sent this folder home to his family in 1916, to show them what his temporary home, a tented camp in southern England, looked like.

View PDF: PDF icon Shorncliffe.pdf

Books behind barbed wire

Canadians could send books to their loved ones in enemy prison camps, but only through companies that had a postal censorship permit to handle such shipments.

Parcels for prisoners of war

To reduce delays in shipment, all parcels destined for Canadian POWs in camps in Germany had to be accompanied by a declaration of their contents.

Getting parcels to the troops

To ensure efficient delivery of mail to units overseas, Canadians were encouraged to use standard address labels, and to ensure that packages were within the weight limit of eleven pounds.

"All well and safe"

A common method of wireless trans-Atlantic correspondence was radio telegraphy. Canadian servicemen sent messages home via the Canadian Marconi Company through Canadian Pacific telegram.

Military badges as postcard art

Battalion badges were an important element of a unit's identity during the First World War, and proved to be a lucrative product for enterprising printers.

Brantford faces the enemy

This postcard, which uses a version of the First World War French slogan "Ils ne passeront pas", was printed for the city of Brantford, Ontario, probably in the summer of 1940, when the German armies posed a very real threat of crossing the English Channel.

"Ma's got a job making munitions"

The demands of the war required many women to take jobs in munitions and aircraft factories. This postcard reflects humorously on their transition from the home to the workplace.

View PDF: PDF icon Postcard Cake.pdf