Music

Rallying around the flag

This song was dedicated to the Canadian overseas contingents, and was published at a time when no one knew exactly how many contingents Canada would eventually send to battle.

View PDF: PDF icon Best Old Flag.pdf

"Side by side with Britain we will go"

Another in a long line of patriotic songs that featured maternalism as a theme, Miller's piece was sung by some of the most popular vocalists of the First World War era.

"They come from the far dominions"

Imperial unity was the theme of this patriotic song, published near the beginning of the First World War. It also borrowed a line from the much more famous patriotic song "Rule Britannia."

"Our Canada the best of all"

Dedicated to the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, this song included a popular trick: the first letters of each line of the verses combined to spell "Briton" and "Canada."

View PDF: PDF icon Hats Off.pdf

Soldier songs

This sheet, probably distributed to soldiers through YMCA recreation huts in Britain and France, contained a mix of old favourites, parody songs, and wartime hits.

Sing along with ex-soldiers

When veterans of the First World War got together, they almost always returned to the songs they had sung while in uniform: "We are Fred Karno's Army," "Far, far from Ypres," "There's a Little Wet Home in the Trench," "Madame, Your Beer's No Bon," and probably others whose lyrics could not be repeated in polite company.

"We are jolly glad to go"

Lorne Mulloy lost his sight in the Boer War, and became famous in Canada as The Blind Trooper. During the First World War, his wife Jean achieved a level of celebrity as a composer of patriotic songs.

View PDF: PDF icon Johnnie Canuck.pdf

Mother Britain and her children

This song offered a version of the Mother Britain theme, envisioning Great Britain as an elderly dowager with "many sons and daughters / Scattered far across the waters" who would come to her aid in time of war.

View PDF: PDF icon Dear Old Lady.pdf

"The Canuck maid who is ne'er afraid"

This privately-published song envisioned the women of Canada in the firing line with their men, because they can "carry a gun good as any mother's son."

Anthems of the Allies

Very early in the First World War, a Canadian publisher released this collection of national anthems of the Allied nations, Great Britain and the Dominions, Belgium, France, Japan, Russia, and Serbia. It included both "O Canada" and "The Maple Leaf Forever."

View PDF: PDF icon National Songs.pdf

Fighting together

This otherwise conventional patriotic song is noteworthy for its reference to the Canadian mosaic, "where nations are all mixed."

A march for Valcartier

Valcartier, Quebec, where the first Canadian units gathered before proceeding overseas in 1914, was well known outside of Canada, as this work by a composer in the United States suggests.

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: PDF icon 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: PDF icon 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: PDF icon 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: PDF icon 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: PDF icon Thumbs Up.pdf

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.

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