World War I

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.

The Kaiser's Last Will

This parody, probably printed at the end of the First World War, was typically of such humour that poked fun at the enemy. Once they had been defeated, Canadians could afford to take them less seriously.

Conducting of Troops

The complexities involved in moving large numbers of soldiers in an orderly fashion are outlined in this booklet, which was printed not long before the end of the First World War.

The Canadian Patriotic Fund at Christmas

The Franco-Belgian Committee of the Canadian Patriotic Fund advertised its work in Montreal with images of French soldiers from decades past.

Sport and war

No. 5 Canadian General Hospital, organized in Victoria, British Columbia, in June 1915, spent over a year in Greece, providing medical services in support of the Salonika campaign. In May 1916, officers organized a sports day to give doctors, nursing sisters, and staff a respite from their duties.

Farewell to Edmonton

It was not unusual for units to have banquets before they left for service overseas - although the illustration chosen by the sergeants of the 51st Battalion might seem a little odd.

In Flanders Fields

John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" appeared in many advertisements during and after the First World War - but was it in poor taste for it to be used by a maker of surgical dressings?

Remembering in Winnipeg

A Winnipeg tradition was the Armistice Day dinner hosted at the Fort Garry Hotel by the 90th Regiment, Winnipeg Rifles, to honour the battalions it had helped to recruit for service in the First World War.

The Empire's Roll of Valour

This keepsake was published after the First World War by a children's magazine, and gave youngsters a place to keep souvenir cards picturing such subjects as the Battle of Vimy Ridge and Victoria Cross-winners Billy Bishop and Tom Dinesen.

View PDF: PDF icon Wallet.pdf

Poppy Day

In this leaflet, the Canadian Legion's Manitoba Command provided a suggested order of service for Armistice Day and reprinted John McCrae's famous poem "In Flanders Fields" - although the author's name and the date of the poem are given incorrectly.

View PDF: PDF icon Poppy Day.pdf

Peace - and another Victory Loan

Although an armistice ended the First World War in November 1918, war spending continued - for the demobilization of soldiers, for food to send to the devastated areas of Europe, and for veterans' programs. In 1919, Canadians were again asked to support the Victory Loan.

Maple sugar for soldiers

Noting that Canada's cities had given generously to war charities, the IODE asked rural groups to donate quantities of maple sugar to be sent overseas, to give soldiers a Canadian treat that could not be found in Europe.

Decoration Day in rural Manitoba

Ceremonies that involved placing flowers on the graves of ex-soldiers were common across Canada, and usually followed the same pattern as this service in Morden, Manitoba.

Au Service de Son Pays

This colourful scroll was available in both French and English, and could be personalized (following the suggestions on the back) by adding the details of an individual's service career.

A conscript's souvenir

Despite the inscription that suggests he enlisted voluntarily, Percy Norris of Sprague, Manitoba, was actually conscripted in May 1918. The fact that he later ordered this souvenir scroll suggests that he was not a reluctant conscript.

A nurse and her patients

British nurse Sarah Arnold kept a diary while she worked at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading during the First World War but instead of writing in it herself, she asked her patients (including some wounded Canadian soldiers) to write of their experiences. After the war, Arnold married John Bridgman of Aberdeen, Saskatchewan, one of the soldiers she had nursed.

View PDF: PDF icon Arnold diary.pdf

The Red Cross in war and peace

In this appeal for support, the Manitoba Red Cross reminded veterans that, as ex-soldiers, they "have knowledge of what the Red Cross Emblem means in the fullest sense of the word." For that reason, they should support the organization's continuing work for injured and disabled soldiers.

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.

The Unknown Soldier

This address, read over the network of the Canadian Radio Commission on Remembrance Day 1935, compared the Unknown Soldier to Jesus Christ.

View PDF: PDF icon Resurrection.pdf

Veterans and their finances

This 1938 financial statement of the Canadian Legion has a curious hand-written notation on it: "Legion cigarettes."

View PDF: PDF icon Balance sheet.pdf