World War I

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.

To the people of Maganetawan

The school in Maganetawan, in northern Ontario, dedicated an impressive plaque to townspeople who served during the First World War, and also distributed handsome souvenir portfolios of the memorial.

Today's news - 1 March 1918

During the First World War, news reached Canadian newspapers through wire services. This bulletin contained British and French official reports, and information gleaned from German sources.

Grenades in trench warfare

One lesson of trench warfare was that "bombing" (or using hand grenades) was much more important in capturing and clearing enemy trenches than had been imagined before the war. As a result, training manuals like this one by James Ferris, who joined the 63rd Battalion in Edmonton in July 1915, were published as a way to pass on new tactical knowledge.

"The power of the military band"

Community bands enjoyed a high profile during the First World War, in part through their support of battalion and regimental bands, which provided musical entertainment throughout the war years. This magazine also included notes from musicians in uniform, details of the latest patriotic tunes, and reflections on the value of music in a democratic society.

View PDF: Cdn Bandsman.pdf

"Thrift - Economy - Production"

Much of this booklet dealt with stretching wartime rations, but it also addressed thrift and economy in a more general sense, with tips on how to curb waste in the home.

View PDF: How to Live.pdf

Daniel McDonald, enemy alien?

During the First World War, the property of enemy aliens might be subject to seizure by the federal government - a possibility that generated extra work for the courts and the legal profession.

The grave of a Canadian soldier

Nelson Hodgson of the 1st Divisional Ammunition Column, was killed in the fighting around Passchendaele in November 1917. This photograph of his grave near Ypres, Belgium, was sent to his family in Guelph, Ontario.

Canada's man at Versailles

Sir George Foster, the subject of this caricature by an Italian artist, was one of Canada's senior delegates to the Paris Peace Conference after the First World War.

For Belgian refugees

In 1914, stories of Belgian civilians displaced by the German invasion spurred many Canadians to raise money for refugees. Albert, King of the Belgians, was a popular symbol in the fund-raising effort.

Ode to the Grilse

Originally a civilian yacht, HMCS Grilse was purchased by the Royal Canadian Navy and commissioned as a torpedo boat during the First World War. She was easily the fastest ship in the navy.

Don't be neutral!

Did Canadians really enlist in the First World War to help Belgium? The Hamilton Recruiting League obviously thought so, and used Belgium as the subject of one of its recruiting cards.

Safe at home

This adaption of the popular song "Home, Sweet Home" was probably performed for soldiers returning to Canada in 1918 and 1919 through Quebec City.

The YMCA and ex-soldiers

This card, giving to a Canadian soldier returning home after the First World War, gave him a six-month membership at any YMCA in Canada.

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