World War I

Armistice Food Products

The advertising decal not only celebrated the armistice that ended the First World War, but also the unity of the Allied nations in a common cause.

A long training march

A soldier from Nova Scotia describes a brigade training march, involving 6000 men in a formation three miles long.

Army life in 1914

Printed early in the First World War to satirize army life, these cards were mailed by a soldier at Valcartier, Quebec, to his family in Melfort, Saskatchewan.

Fighting for France

A typical sentimental postcard of French manufacture, sent by a Canadian soldier to his sister in Ontario in 1915.

A tender moment ...

This image of a couple kissing, sent by a Canadian soldier to his wife, would have been considered slightly racy at the time of the First World War.

Badge of the 135th Battalion

This postcard was manufactured in England, probably not long before the 135th Battalion, raised in and around London, Ontario, was broken up for reinforcements.

His Country's Call

A typical patriotic image from the First World War, by British artist Cyril Cuneo.

Sabotage at a Walkerville factory

In 1915, the Peabody factory in Walkerville, Ontario, which manufactured military uniforms, was targeted by German-American saboteurs, who struck and then returned to the United States.

Socks for France

A soldier could rarely have too many pairs of socks. This French-based charity had offices in Paris, Montreal, Toronto, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Supplies for the troops at the front

Early in the First World War, the Canadian Fields Comforts Commission was the main agency involved in sending clothing, reading material, toiletries, and sweets to soldiers at the front.

The 1st Contingent at Valcartier

Postcards of Valcartier, where the first units of the CEF concentrated before sailing to England in 1914, were a popular souvenir during the First World War. This image shows units from Montreal.

Victory March in London, 2 May 1919

A message from an unidentified soldier: "Got these cards on July 12th in London. am now in YMCA Portsmouth. it is raining outside. intend taking a trip up in a airplane this afternoon. peace celebration day July 19th 1919."

Souvenir of the Vimy Pilgrimage

A Canadian veteran travelling to the unveiling of the memorial at Vimy Ridge bought this souvenir on board the SS Montrose while en route to France.

Tea with Princess Mary

In this card to his family, Andrew Brider of Hamilton, Ontario, described having tea with royalty at Windsor Castle in 1917.

The day of the Armistice

George Faatz enlisted in St Thomas, Ontario, in September 1915, and survived to send this card to a friend on the day the armistice came into effect. At any other time in the war, the card would have been destroyed by censors because of his hand-written note at the top.

The Second Battle of Ypres

Silks were often included in cigarette packages as product premiums to be collected. These silks refers to villages near Ypres, where the Canadian Expeditionary Force first saw action in the spring of 1915.

Comforts for soldiers

During the First World War, the YMCA was a major supplier of comforts to soldiers, which were often distributed through huts like this one, at the large Canadian camp at Witley, in the south of England.

A Vimy Pilgrim writes home

In 1936, a Canadian veteran sent this postcard to a friend in Windsor, Ontario, to describe the unveiling of the memorial on the site of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The life of a conscript, 1918

Elroy Goudie of Petrolia, Ontario, described to a friend the military camp at Carling Heights, in London, just five days after he was conscripted in June 1918.

The Canadians at Seaford

During the First World War, it was customary for a unit to decorate the entrance to its encampment, like these at Seaford, on the south coast of England. One design, by Corporal Stenhouse of the Canadian Engineers, was forty feet long and ten feet wide. Another display marked the headquarters of the Canadian Army Service Corps.