World War II

The Irish Soldier Poet

Al Pat or "the Irish soldier poet" had served in the infantry in the First World War, and wrote about his experiences in a collection called "Rhymes of an Old War Horse." A sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, he also published this volume of rough doggerel about life on various Canadian airfields.

View PDF: Bang.pdf

What if I lose my job?

The Second World War brought many changes to Canada, including the advent of a program of unemployment insurance. This booklet explained what was, at the time, a revolutionary system of social welfare.

View PDF: Unemp Ins Eng.pdf

"In the interests of Mechanical Maintenance"

CAM was a kind of bible for Canadian military mechanics during the Second World War - but it's equally notable for its fine graphic art covers.

"A fighting navy that holds our foe at bay"

At the end of the Second World War, this amateur poet from Nova Scotia published a verse tribute to the Royal Canadian Navy, and to its political chief, Angus L. Macdonald.

View PDF: Calling Canada.pdf

The war at a glance

This fund-raising map brochure, likely from 1942, offered a compendium of useful information on the nations at war, their weapons, and the territory that was being contested.

Canloan officers

Heavy losses among British infantry officers necessitated the creation of a program to loan trained Canadian officers, of which there was an ample supply, to British units in the field.

The Quebec Conference

In August 1943, Canada played host to US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, British prime minister Winston Churchill, and a host of important commanders and civil servants from the Allied nations to plan the next phase of the war against Germany and Japan.

Halifax powers the war

Prevented from doing so during the Second World War because of the need for secrecy, Nova Scotia Light and Power later told its war story in a series of radio broadcasts, and then condensed the broadcasts into a fully illustrated souvenir magazine in 1946.

Entertainment in wartime

Four ensembles, the Originals, the London Life Troupers, the Tweedsmuir Revue, and the London Little Theatre, performed to entertain men and women in uniform and raise funds for the Citizens Auxiliary War Services Committee.

Giving thanks for peace

Across the Allied world in May 1945, communities like Chesley, Ontario, gathered to give thanks for the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Prayers for soldiers, sailors and airmen

Endorsed by the Archbishop of Quebec, this prayer book was published by the Knights of Columbus within a few months of the beginning of the Second World War.

Recycling rubber

By 1943, Japan controlled up to three-quarters of the world's supply of crude rubber - making recycling essential if the Allied war effort was to continue.

View PDF: Scrap rubber.pdf

Sunday School and Mother's Day

This donation card, directed at Ontario children, conflated Mother's Day, religion, and the need to defeat Nazi Germany

Useful gifts for soldier boys

It was up to Canadians at home to remember their loved ones overseas with the odd gift - bought, of course, from a local retailer.

Made in Canada

This multilingual decal was made in 1943, likely to affix to Canadian war materiel, perhaps vehicles, being exported.

Thanks from the Netherlands

A Canadian soldier brought this home to Canada in 1945, a keepsake from a grateful Dutch civilian.

"Thumbs Up! Beat Hitler"

Torontonians could support the Red Cross by attending this recital, and were also asked to patronize the businesses that supported the cause.

Remembering in Edmonton

Wreaths cover the base of the cenotaph in Edmonton, Alberta, during a service held after the Second World War.

Coming home to the lakehead

This image of the women's pipe band was given to veterans in Fort William, Ontario, as they returned from service during the Second World War.

Buy Canadian!

During the Second World War, the federal government aggressively promoted a "buy Canadian" strategy, to prevent an outflow of currency to pay for foreign-made goods.

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