World War I

Entertainment, dancing and bridge

The Great War Veterans Association was the largest of Canada's ex-soldier groups that decided to remain independent when most others amalgamated into the Canadian Legion in 1926.

Singing on the road to war

This songbook, donated to soldiers by a Hamilton, Ontario, businessman, including selections ranging from "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" to "Stop Yer Tickling, Jock."

Constructing barbed wire defences

This manual, used for training purposes by the 215th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was based on two years' worth of hard experience in defending captured positions.

Bell's Bulldogs

This Calgary battalion took its nickname from its very popular first commanding officer. Among those listed in this directory is Prime Minister R.B. Bennett, an associate member of the organization.

View PDF: 31st Bn 1933.pdf

A voice for veterans

The Army and Navy Veterans in Canada was one of the few such organizations that decided to remain independent when the Canadian Legion was formed in 1926.

The Heroic Dead

The Hants County, Nova Scotia, war memorial drew its inspiration from British history, from the creators of Stonehenge to the builders of the British Empire.

The Emma Gees

Every November, former machine gunners in British Columbia assembled to remember fallen comrades and enjoy an evening together. On this evening, they were all too aware that another generation of Canadians had been forced to go to war.

Voting in Ontario

Wartime elections meant a new class of voters: those in uniform. In Ontario, the franchise was extended to men who were not normally allowed to vote, including those under the age of twenty-one and members of the First Nations, provided they were serving in the military.

"You have in explosives a good servant"

In this book, Sergeant Coleman of the Royal Canadian Regiment sought to augment the short time given to grenade training by providing practical hints on handling, arming, throwing, and making various kinds of bombs for use in trench warfare.

View PDF: Bombs.pdf

Are you physically fit?

According to these regulations, medical requirements for volunteers to the CEF were fairly stringent. In practice, the need for manpower meant that many serious medical conditions were "overlooked".

The good old 18th

In 1919, the members of London's Women's Canadian Club held a dinner for the returning 18th Battalion, just as they had done when the unit left London in 1914. Among the celebrities on hand were Sir Adam Beck and Hume Cronyn, MP.

How to survive in the trenches

This booklet, written with the benefit of three years of experience with trench warfare, covered everything from gas discipline to rum rations.

Killing at close quarters

This training manual stressed that effective bayonet fighting required "Good Direction, Strength and Quickness, during a state of wild excitement and probably physical exhaustion."

"Are my men full of keenness?"

Just a few months before the attack on Vimy Ridge, Canadian Corps commander Lord Byng showed as much interest in the comfort of his soldiers as he did in tactics - and encouraged his officers to do the same.

Another Victory Loan

To prepare people to support the last Victory Loan, organizers in Nova Scotia outlined how their previous investments had been spent.

A soldier's paybook

Harry Catling, a thirteen-year veteran of the British Army, left Canada for England as a reservist as soon as the First World War began, returned to Canada when his term of service expired in 1916, and promptly enlisted in the Canadian Army Service Corps in Toronto.

To our heroes, the boys in khaki

This concert, typical of wartime patriotic events, featured musical selections from local artists and one of the city's military bands and a lecture entitled "On land and sea, with our veterans."

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 tailor looks for work

To assist ex-soldiers in finding work, the federal government provided introduction cards to be given to prospective employers. Henry Royle of Vancouver was interested in resuming his prewar trade: tailoring.

Missing at Regina Trench

Frank Elvin of Guelph, Ontario, was not yet twenty years old when he went missing in action in the last stages of the Battle of the Somme in October 1916. The date on the card likely refers to the date that official notification reached his family.

View PDF: Elvin card.pdf

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