World War I

Canada's Part in the Great War

This booklet provides a brief overview of Canada's contribution to the First World War, written shortly after the end of the war. Learn about Canada's military operations, naval service, changes in government finances, war production and trade, home-front rationing, and services for returned soldiers.

Army Physical Drill Made Easy

This training manual describes everything an officer needs to know about leading his men through physical training, including diagrams of the proper positions for exercises and simplified language to make sure everyone can understand.

Exempted from conscription

Men who had been given exemptions under the Military Service Act were required to complete this questionnaire to justify their claim. It pays particular attention to men employed in the agricultural sector.

A lifelong Red Cross worker

The First World War offered endless opportunity for charitable organizations, and there were many committed volunteers, like Mrs Pardee, prepared to devote time and energy to the cause.

"Europe's Triangle of Suffering"

The First World War was followed by a humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe, with destitute war orphans and the spread of typhus creating significant challenges for aid societies.

On leave in Paris

One of the many services provided by the YMCA was accommodation for soldiers on leave. This pamphlet was carried by a member of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles.

View PDF: Hotel d-Ilena.pdf

The Nation's Sacrifice

This poster, distributed by a Toronto newspaper, honoured the unveiling of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, just a few months before the beginning of the Second World War.

The 701 Dead of Brant County

Sculptor Walter Allward had completed the Bell Memorial in Brantford and was working on the Canadian memorial at Vimy Ridge in France when his memorial to the dead of Brant County in southern Ontario was unveiled. Budget shortfalls meant that the intended allegorical figures could not be added at that time.

Conscription comes to Canada

Conscription came to Canada in 1917 amidst great controversy. This leaflet was part of the government's effort to explain why it was necessary and how it would work.

View PDF: MSA.pdf

Patriotic Songs

A typical combination of song sheet and recruiting pamphlet, this leaflet included traditional anthems and hymns for which new lyrics had been written.

Badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Children who had no access to actual military badges could collect cards of the badges instead.

Recycling, Great War style

With the Canadians pulling out of Britain after the First World War, there was a need to use up resources - so, this card for a March 1919 dance at the 3rd Canadian Reserve Battalion was printed on the back of a January 1918 leave permit issued to Toronto soldier Charles Kinsey.

"The Garden of the Brave"

The National War Memorial in Ottawa was more than a decade from completion when this song was published. Sales of this card benefited the Canadian Legion.

Finding work for ex-soldiers

At the end of the First World War, the Canadian government faced an unprecedented problem with the return of tens of thousands of ex-soldiers who would be looking for work. It relied on local officials for appraisals of the job market in various areas.

A New Brunswick farmer in uniform

Caleb Harrison of Forest Hill, New Brunswick, was conscripted under the Military Service Act in July 1918. These documents gave him leave from Camp Sussex on compassionate grounds in September 1918 , and formalized his discharge in January 1919.

The war from all sides

British press baron Lord Northcliffe published this contemporary history of the Great War, with proceeds going to the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John.

From ambulances to invalid kitchens

The Canadian Red Cross Society furnished these statistics about the activities of its sister society in Britain - which was spending $30 every minute on relief and charitable work related to the war.

Feeding the cause of righteousness

In 1918, in recognition of the importance of food to the Allied war effort, the province of Prince Edward island proclaimed the week of 22 April to be "a week of Dedication and Preparation" for the coming planting season.

A send-off for lodge members

When men of the King William Lodge joined the 105th Regiment, their fellow lodge members gave them each a pocket bible and their best wishes for a safe return at war's end.

"For an hero's death no tears"

On the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, Great War veterans in Vernon, British Columbia, built this evocative display.

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