World War I

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.

Honouring the dead in Pembroke

Great War veterans and militia soldiers shared the streets of Pembroke, Ontario, for the 1931 Armistice Day parade.

Calisthenics for new recruits

For many new soldiers, the introduction to army life included healthy doses of bending, stretching, and other exercises laid out in this First World War manual.

View PDF: PT tables.pdf

Hymns for soldiers

Soldiers were fond of altering the lyrics to hymns for comic effect - so, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" became "When This Lousy War is Over."

View PDF: Sacred Songs.pdf

Sports at the front

After an afternoon of competition, from running races to horseback wrestling, the men of the 1st Canadian Field Ambulance were treated to a concert put on by the comedy troupe of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Ring in the peace

The return of peace in 1918 was a momentous occasion - so momentous that special commemorative greeting cards were printed and sold.

A law-abiding man

Many young men attempted to evade conscription during the First World War, so the military authorities provided certificates to men who had observed the law and properly registered with the government, as proof against harassment by the police of potential employers.

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