Postcards from Camp Debert, Truro, Nova Scotia

Postcards were a routine way of corresponding quickly with family and friends in the age before e-mail. This rare collection shows Canadian infantry training and recreating at Camp Debert in Nova Scotia, ca. 1942.

Carry on, Canada!

The imagery on the postcard might seem more suited to the First World War than the Second, but it indicates the strength of imperial sentiment through the 1940s.

Cross, rifle, and maple leaf

Military, religious, and national symbols mingled in this postcard produced during the Second World War for the Quebec market.

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."

"Gladden the hearts of our heroes"

Soldiers overseas treasured mail from home, a fact that this Toronto company hoped would help sell its products during the First World War.

Army, Navy and Air Force

This lettercard, published early in the Second World War, gave users a thumbnail sketch of the three services and described Canada's Battle Flag, shown in the background.

"There'll Always Be An England"

This patriotic postcard of the Second World War used a line from Vera Lynn's famous song. Other cards in the series offered equally stirring images.

"Do not begin now to tell me that I am foolish"

An unidentified British Columbia soldier gives his reasons for enlisting in the 50th Regiment, Gordon Highlanders, describes his training with the British Columbia Horse, and mentions attacks on German-owned businesses in Victoria.

An air letter from overseas

Air letters such as this one were distributed to servicemen and women in Britain, and were given priority in cargo space. Each person was allowed to send four air letters per month.

For more private communications

All letters written by soldiers were normally censored by their own officers, but they could request green Privilege (or Honour) Envelopes. These were not censored by their officers but by postal authorities in the rear areas, and allowed men to write of sensitive personal matters that they might not want their officers to know about.