World War I

The Army and Navy Veterans in Canada

Although it traces its roots to the nineteenth century, the Army and Navy Veterans in Canada was not granted a federal charter until 1917. It was one of the few organizations that did not join the new Canadian Legion when it was created in 1926.

Selling insurance with the flag

Using a verse by poet Frederick George Scott, an insurance company played on First World War patriotism as an advertising strategy.

An eyewitness in at the front

Novelist Arnold Bennett was the first major writer to be invited to tour the Western Front during the First World War; his account was published in late 1915. This postcard invited book-buyers to experience "all the picturesque, moving figures of the front."

Peace Day in London

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 marked the end of the First World War, and people in many Allied countries celebrated the event by observing Peace Day in July 1919.

View PDF: Peace Holiday.pdf

A symbol of service

A service chevron (to be worn on the uniform sleeve) was awarded for each year of overseas service; the certificate was intended to combat the problem of the fraudulent veteran.

The YMCA at Witley

This ecumenical service, held at a large CEF training camp in the south of England, featured Rev. A. Logan Geggie of Parkdale Presbyterian Church in Toronto.

Using the Ross Rifle

The Ross Rifle was superb for target shooting, but left much to be desired in combat conditions - as the Canadian 1st Division learned to its peril at Ypres in April 1915.

View PDF: Ross Rifle.pdf

"Our pride in the past, our hope for the future"

Despite its title, this book was all about government programs available to Canadians after they stopped being soldiers and returned to the peacetime economy.

Inside an artillery battery

Like most First World War unit publications, this magazine combined cartoons, jokes, amusing stories, and battery news. A regular feature was "Things We Would Like to Know", which included the question "Why is it we're always on the move? Can't we pay the rent?"

View PDF: OPip Xmas.pdf

Christmas in the trenches

At Christmas 1917, this soldier wrote that he was "Still Going Strong." Did he survive the war?

A weekend at home

This pass allowed Fleetwood Berry of the Canadian Field Artillery to be absent from his base for a weekend - perhaps to visit his family in Meaford, Ontario.

Brantford - The Telephone City

This fund-raising booklet said little about Brantford in the First World War, but rather used photographs of local landmarks and statuary as a form of civic boosterism.

View PDF: Brantford.pdf

A wartime sales pitch

To capitalize on public sentiment, Dodds-Simpson Press offered specially inscribed bound volumes of a popular illustrated magazine to the families of Canadians in uniform - the addresses having been supplied by the federal government.

View PDF: War Pictorial.pdf

Welcome back to the lakehead

The city of Port Arthur, Ontario, distributed scrolls to returning soldiers in 1919, to thank them for their efforts in defence of "Truth, Freedom, Home, and Native Land."

The Ghosts of Vimy Ridge

Longstaff's painting was hugely popular and widely reproduced, but was anyone offended when a funeral home distributed copies it for advertising purposes?

The Royal Highlanders of Canada

During the First World War, the Canadian War Records Office planned to publish short histories of every Canadian infantry battalion. This history of Montreal's 13th Battalion, affiliated with the Black Watch, was one of the few to make it into print.

View PDF: 13th Bn.pdf

Greetings from Folkestone

Souvenirs like this one gave a rosy view of life in CEF camps during the First World War, with pictures of church parade, a battalion band, a visit from the King, and "a bachelor's supper party."

Two brothers at war

The two Iceton brothers enlisted in the 124th Battalion in Toronto in December 1915, but only one returned home after the war. Family members put together a small collections of letters, photographs, and other keepsakes as a tribute to their service and sacrifice.

One of the originals

Charles Pocock of Montreal enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the beginning of the First World War, making him eligible to join the association of original members of the 13th Battalion.

Unfit for service

During the First World War, young men were often pressured to enlist - and were grateful to have a certificate like this one, which proved that Thomas Robson had been willing to serve but had been rejected by the army.

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