World War I

"In the interests of recruiting"

The young men of Pictou County, Nova Scotia, could find a wealth of information about enlistment in this weekly pamphlet - whether they were interested in the Royal Flying Corps, the tunnelling corps, the engineers, the transport services, or the 106th Regiment Nova Scotia Rifles.

A Vimy pilgrim's travel arrangements

Ross McIntyre of Komoka, Ontario, served in the Black Watch rather than in the Canadian Corps - but he still made the trip to France in 1936 for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial.

Bring your friends and enlist

When voluntarism slowed down in late 1915, units resorted to many tactics - including direct mail campaigns like this one - to attract potential recruits.

From steelworker to soldier to farmer

The Soldier Settlement Board aimed to turn ex-soldiers of the First World War into farmers, something it did with only limited success. This record, kept by Joseph Morrison of Launching, Prince Edward Island, details his farming successes and failures in 1922.

Calling Francophones

Selling the First World War to French Canada was a challenge but this booklet, published as a recruiting tool, attempted to make the case in favour of participation.

Patriotism on show

This printed fabric calendar, with a typical patriotic motif and slogan, was displayed in a house in New Brunswick - at least until September 1917.

The Dead of Assiniboia

The memorial, which lists 39 dead from the First World War and 15 dead from the Second, was moved and repaired in 1982. The soldier had to be removed because of damage caused by vandals.

Help an old soldier

To make ends meet, ex-soldiers (and probably con artists impersonating ex-soldiers) sold postcards, booklets, trinkets - and calendars.

Old Boys in Brantford

Toronto's 84th Battalion was broken up in 1916 to provide reinforcements for other units, but its members continued to meet for years after the First World War ended.

Remembering the Sacrifice

A Form of Service from the unveiling of the Cross of Sacrifice in Rothesay, New Brunswick, remembering "men of the parish who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War".

Field Day

A program for a Field Day held "somewhere in France", containing competitors and events, held on the 30th of June 1917.

Proof of veteran status

The War Service Badge, and this certificate, which verified that the holder had the right to wear it, was intended to combat the problem of the fake veteran after the First World War. Henry Whyte of St George, Ontario, served with the 19th Battalion.

From soldier to veteran

When he was discharged in 1919, Leon Cantelon of Wingham, Ontario, almost immediately joined what was then Canada's largest ex-soldiers' group, the Great War Veterans' Association.

The war in Africa

This kind of exhibition was important in raising awareness of, and support for, military campaigns that drew little attention.

A Christmas menu

This hand-coloured menu may seem modest, but it would have represented a significant departure from a soldier's regular fare.

Souvenir of an overseas voyage

Early in the war, soldiers going overseas might be given a souvenir like this. As the war dragged on and sailings became increasingly more frequent, they disappeared from the scene.

For Victory Loan donors

The Victory Loan drive was a staple in wartime Canada, as were the receipts given to people who pledged support.

Payments from a soldier-settler

British immigrant Percy Thomas enlisted in Toronto in 1916 and, after he was demobilized, received land from the government's Soldier Settlement Board. Receipts show him repaying the debt into the early 1930s.

Conscription comes to Canada, 1917

This handbill, intended to be widely distributed and posted in public buildings, provided instructions for unmarried men between the ages of 20 and 34 to report for service or lodge a claim for exemption.

Six Bits

The 75th Battalion drew from the Toronto area, and its association newspaper celebrated its war exploits and the postwar achievements of its members.

View PDF: Six Bits.pdf

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