Overseas at Christmas

This Christmas card, produced by the Salvation Army, used an idyllic Canadian wilderness scene rather than any holiday imagery.

A last Christmas at war

For the unidentified soldier who sent this card home in 1945, the best Christmas present was the knowledge that this was the last wartime Christmas to be spent away from home.

Marching to victory

This patriotic marching song featured an advertisement from General Motors of Canada which highlighted its manufacture of trucks for the war effort.

View PDF: On to Victory.pdf

The King and Queen remain

The decision of the Royal Family to remain in London in spite of the German bombing offensive against Britain was enormously popular throughout the Allied world. This song, introduced to Canada by The Happy Gang, included a poem by Edna Jaques in honour of Queen Elizabeth.

"Sail on to Victory"

This popular song, by the composers of "There'll Always Be An England," put the Second World War Royal Navy in the context of great naval heroes of the past: Drake, Nelson, Beatty, and Fisher.

View PDF: Navy's Here.pdf

Canada's future imagined

Part patriotic anthem, part hymn, Webster's work reflected enormous optimism at a time when Canada had just entered its second world war in a generation.

View PDF: My Country.pdf

Waiting for a soldier sweetheart

Dedicated to "the Brave Boys of our Fighting Forces," Bussell's song was one of many that looked forward to the return of Canada's men in uniform.

View PDF: Soldier Boy.pdf

"Thumbs up in true British spirit!"

The lyrics make no direct reference to the Battle of Britain that was fought in the summer and fall of 1940, but the image of the jaunty pilot would have reminded people of The Few, the small group of Allied fighter pilots who defended Britain against German air attacks.

View PDF: Thumbs Up.pdf

The Nova Scotia Highlanders in reserve

In June 1918, the 85th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, held a gala dinner and musical evening while the unit was out of the front lines. The unit would spend most of the rest of the war in action.

Sailing to war

This booklet, printed on board the ship, would not have been out of place on any peacetime sailing. However, the men and women of the 86th Machine Gun Battalion, the 224th Forestry Battalion, No. 8 Stationary Hospital, and the 4th Division Ammunition Sub-Park were going to war, not on vacation.

View PDF: White Star.pdf

Entertaining the troops

The most famous of Canada's First World War concert parties, the Dumbells were a favourite with military audiences during the war, and civilian audiences after. Their 1918 show featured a sketch called Vimyology, which looked back on the war from the year 2017. Its patron was Major-General Louis Lipsett, who would be killed in action in October 1918.

View PDF: Dumbells 1918.pdf

Easter on the Western Front

Canadian chaplains serving in France distributed these cards to their troops at Easter in 1915 - some of them would spend the next five Easters away from their families.

A hospital dance

The Canadian hospital at Granville, which provided orthopedic treatment to the wounded, remained in operation until September 1919, long after most Canadian soldiers had returned home.

A high school dance

It was only 1942, but high schools students in Arthur, Ontario, decided to begin their evening's dance program with a Victory Dance.

View PDF: Arthur HS.pdf

A Victory Dance

A police unit of the Royal Canadian Air Force celebrated the end of the Second World War in Europe in style - with a dance and buffet.

"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.

Message from a prisoner of war

Elmer McKnight of the Winnipeg Grenadiers was one of three brothers captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong in December 1941. Later, they formed a band in captivity and their rendition of this song was played during a Japanese propaganda radio broadcast. It was heard in Canada, where Gordon Thompson eventually published it, with all proceeds going into a trust fund for the McKnight brothers when they returned to Winnipeg after the war.

The Spirit of Freedom

Sadly, nothing is known about this piece of music or the woman who registered it in Canada for copyright purposes in 1941.

"The Navy's sturdy arm"

This jaunty song paid tribute to the sailors of the Royal Navy, whose constant protection meant that "Canada has never had to fear war's alarm."

View PDF: Keep Watch.pdf


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