World War I

From Montreal to the Western Front

The formal group portrait was a ritual of service during the First World War. This draft of artillerymen, destined to reinforce units at the front, includes a number of men who appear far too young, and perhaps under the height restrictions, for military service.

A community honours its dead

When the Pugwash war memorial was unveiled in 1922, the souvenir booklet listed not only the area's dead, but those people who had donated to the memorial fund, as well the amounts.

The 48th Battalion CEF Association

The 48th Battalion was mobilized in Victoria, British Columbia, in November 1914 and was redesignated the 3rd Pioneer Battalion before reaching the Western Front in the spring of 1916. Veterans of the unit continued to meet for annual events into the 1950s.

Saving for the war

Carrying interest rates of between 5% and 5.5%, Canada's Victory Loans represented a sound investment, and an excellent opportunity to show patriotism by supporting the war effort.

How to listen to a military band

University professor John Daniel Logan offered a critical appraisal of the brass band of the 85th Battalion, surely the only First World War military band to receive such scholarly attention.

View PDF: 85th Bn band.pdf

"Brothers-in-Arms"

Presented to a school in Steinbach, Manitoba, as part of the War Memorial Library of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, this booklet told the story of Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and South African soldiers during the First World War.

Rebuilding after the Halifax Explosion

The Grove Presbyterian Church and the Kaye Street Methodist Church were destroyed in the Halifax Explosion of December 1917; after the war, parishioners united to build one church to serve both congregations.

View PDF: Common Sorrow.pdf

Another Christmas away from home

The menu was impressive, but the note at the bottom indicated that they might have to resort to tinned rations at the last minute.

"Servant of God, well done!"

Merton Crawford of New Brunswick enlisted in the Canadian Mounted Rifles in March 1915, and went missing in action during the last weeks of the Somme campaign in 1916.

The Canadian Army Medical Corps wants men!

This recruiting card was typical in promising to get the volunteer to the front quickly, but unusual in offering valuable training for a postwar career.

Dominion Day in Ontario

This souvenir postcard included alternate Canadian lyrics to British standards, in honour of Canada's founding day.

Dr Scrimger, VC

This war savings stamp honoured Captain Francis Scrimger of Montreal, who won the Victoria Cross at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915.

"Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!"

For soldiers in training during the First World War, the gas mask was not so much a vital piece of battlefield equipment as an unusual accessory to be modeled in amusing photographs.

Helping the youngest war victims

One of the deadliest legacies of the First World War was disease - not just the Spanish flu, but typhus, smallpox, and consumption. As this fund-raising pamphlet argued, children in Eastern Europe were especially vulnerable.

Victory Bonds on sale!

Like previous campaign, the 1918 Victory Loan drive relied on thousands of local volunteers, both as organizers and canvassers.

Fund-raising in the Maritimes

Over a single week in 1918, the Canadian Red Cross Society intended to raise $250,000 in Nova Scotia alone - the equivalent of over $3.4 million in 2014 values.

Christmas in Germany

With the war over, soldiers of the 5th Battalion enjoyed Christmas 1918 in Germany, where they were serving with the occupation forces.

Peace rules the Day

This card, featuring John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields," was preserved by a soldier of the Royal Munster Fusiliers serving in Rangoon, Burma.

A shattered city

After the city of Halifax was devastated by an explosion in 1917, all of the sights that had characterized the war in Europe - ruined buildings, wreckage-strewn cityscapes, rows of unidentified bodies - were seen in Canada.

Returned Soldier's Handbook

This booklet told soldiers what to expect as they returned home to Canada, including what travel arrangements and services were available to veterans.

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