'Great yarns are told of squadrons bold'

In the great tradition of stirring naval poetry, Lieutenant-Commander Hugh Campbell wrote this tribute to the men and ships of the 31st Canadian Minesweeping Flotilla while serving on HMCS Fort William. The 31st operated off Omaha and Utah beaches during the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944.

Dedicated to fellow stretcher-bearers

Albert Drummond was a nurse in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when he joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps in December 1916. He eventually served overseas with the 15th Canadian Field Ambulance. Judging by the titles of the poems, this volume was probably published in 1917.

From Ypres to victory

These souvenirs cards, with original art by Lewis E. Smith, were produced in 1919 to mark significant events of the First World War, using the poems they inspired.

"Poems tragic, poems nostalgic"

The Second World War was a less poetic war than the First had been, but there were enough amateur poets in the Canadian army in Italy to fill this collection of poems, all of which had originally been published in the military newspaper "The Maple Leaf."

View PDF: PDF icon Rhyme & Reason.pdf

America's Answer to "In Flanders Fields"

John McCrae's famous poem inspired countless responses, including this one by R.W. Lillard, reprinted in a leaflet distributed at an exhibition of captured war trophies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A returned soldier - poet

Already nearly fifty years of age when he enlisted in the 193rd Battalion, Stanley Fullerton of Amherst, Nova Scotia, was plagued by ill health while in uniform and never got closer to the front than England.

A little known war poet

Nova Scotian John Bradford served as a conducting officer during the First World War, but his poetry turned to more unusual subjects, such as Armenian refugees and the story of a horse that was killed in action at the front.

View PDF: PDF icon Blind Soldier.pdf

The Irish Soldier Poet

Al Pat or "the Irish soldier poet" had served in the infantry in the First World War, and wrote about his experiences in a collection called "Rhymes of an Old War Horse." A sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, he also published this volume of rough doggerel about life on various Canadian airfields.

View PDF: PDF icon Bang.pdf

"A fighting navy that holds our foe at bay"

At the end of the Second World War, this amateur poet from Nova Scotia published a verse tribute to the Royal Canadian Navy, and to its political chief, Angus L. Macdonald.

View PDF: PDF icon Calling Canada.pdf

The Hun-Beating Proverb Book

"Containing Many Proverbs that Point to the Destruction of Arrogance, Tyranny, Villainy, Vice and the Monstrous Militarism of which Germany has been Guilty."

A railway journey

This simple poem captures a First World War soldier's thoughts as he travelled on a train bound for leave in Britain.

Ode to the Grilse

Originally a civilian yacht, HMCS Grilse was purchased by the Royal Canadian Navy and commissioned as a torpedo boat during the First World War. She was easily the fastest ship in the navy.

Stories and Poems of the Great War

Following the close of the greatest conflict the world had ever seen, many Canadians sought to commemorate their experiences. Booklets like this one contained poems and stories reflecting on wartime experiences and contemplating the meaning of what had transpired during the four-year conflict.

"Who are these boys in Navy Blue?"

James Mitchell of Waterdown, Ontario, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, carried around this poem in honour of Canada's seamen. It is believed to have been written by Leading Seaman Arthur Currie Stewart of Glen William, Prince Edward Island.

In praise of the "Buctouche"

This poem in honour of corvette K179, also known as HMCS Buctouche, was found in the papers of Canadian seaman James Mitchell of Waterdown, Ontario. It is believed to have been written by Leading Seaman Arthur Currie Stewart of Glen William, Prince Edward Island.

A poetic voice from the front

This may be the original version of a booklet that ex-soldiers sold after the First World War to raise money - Private Nixon's "Verses Written in the Trenches" is a later version.

View PDF: PDF icon Audette.pdf

O Valiant Hearts

"O Valiant Hearts" was one of the most popular hymns to emerge from the First World War. This printed copy was distributed to members of the congregation of Wellington Street Methodist Church in London, Ontario, on the occasion of the unveiling of their war memorial.

A soldier-poet looks towards peace

One of the most popular poems of the Second World War, "Prayer for Victory" was read to huge crowds by actors Greer Garson and Raymond Massey, and broadcast to millions of listeners on national radio networks. Diespecker asked that any profits generated by sales of his work go to the Canadian Red Cross Society.

A Canadian's message home

A sentimental verse from early in the First World War, inspired by Robert Burns' famous poem "Auld Lang Syne."

In praise of Canadian manhood

A Canadian soldier sent this postcard, with its verse tribute to soldierly masculinity, home to his mother in 1916.