Arthur Wylie - from infantryman to doctor

Walter Arthur Wylie (on the right in this photograph) was a student at Yorkton High School in Saskatchewan when he enlisted in the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion in March 1916. He served at the front for seventeen months with the 46th Battalion and was wounded early in the Hundred Days Offensive. Wylie returned to Canada in 1919, to marry Blanche Robinson and begin a long career as a doctor. He treasured these souvenirs from his time in the CEF, and also kept diaries of his wartime experiences (currently being digitized).

Ron Laidlaw's Keepsakes

Ron Laidlaw, longtime resident of London, Ontario, was a war photographer with the RCAF during the Second World War. He was, allegedly, the first Allied photographer to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and among the first to enter the newly liberated city of Paris. He brought back with him a collection of Nazi artifacts and Adolf Hitler collector cards, as well as official photos that he took in England, France, Holland, and Germany. The postwar material includes two scrapbooks, one detailing his retirement from CFPL Television in 1987 and the other his trip for the fiftieth anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands in 1995, his war medals, cuff-links given to Laidlaw by the Masons, and cigarette holders. After the war, Laidlaw returned to his position at the London Free Press until an opportunity arose to launch a new TV station, CFPL. He was the station's only news director until his retirement in 1987.

Joe Sams' family scrapbook

Joseph Reed Sams enlisted in 1943 and fought with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. While he was at the front, his family kept a scrapbook of newspaper articles concerning the major battles in which they believed he had fought. Throughout the scrapbook are items that are more personal, such as the telegram informing the family that Sams had been wounded. Other interesting items, added after he had returned home are a Nazi badge, Sams' campaign ribbon, and a fifty-Reichsmark bill. After the war, Sams went on to become an insurance agent, and in 1963 was elected as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Wentworth, Ontario.

An album of the Canadian Army Medical Corps

This album, from London, Ontario, features many unidentified photos and images with handwritten captions. Among the identified subjects are Mr. and Mrs. Dechtro, Miss Frances McCabe as a child, Mr. Frank Lafleur, Mr. Thomas Cat, Mrs. Emma Seven Oaks and sister, Lydia Jahnke, Mrs. Grace Raubolt and son, Miss Agnes Davies, Mr. Nick Poulas, Sergeants McFee and Shaw, “Frenchy and Scotty,” George Latimer, Sergeant Major McDonald, Harriet and Isabell Raubolt, Mr. and Mrs. Higginson, the “Riot Squad” in London, Isabell Powell, Sergeant D.G. Powell, Jack Timney, Lance Corporal Borke, and Nellie Bronk. There are numerous images of a CAMC unit in London in 1916, and photographs of troops aboard the SS Cassandra, of the 13th Battalion, Canadian Engineers, of an unidentified London nurse who was buried at sea, and of icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland. Other images were taken in Dallas, Cleveland, Niagara, Toronto, and London, England.

Captain Cecil Bruce Ferris

Cecil Bruce Ferris, born in Kingston in 1885, enlisted in the 2nd Field Company, Canadian Engineers in September 1914. While serving in France, he sustained a gunshot wound to the chest and spent time in convalescent hospitals in England; during one of his leaves, he married his sweetheart Clara (known as Rosie) in Deal, England. The collection includes their marriage invitation, and dozens of letters between Bruce and Rosie that were sent to his mother Alice, whom Bruce kept well informed on his life, both at the front and in England. For his service he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Croix de Guerre in 1916. After the war, he was deeply involved with his unit, eventually becoming Commanding Officer. As a result, the collection includes much of the day-to-day paperwork involved with commanding a company of engineers. Captain Ferris died in 1965 in Toronto, Ontario.

"They gave their own lives"

Although this service was held after the Second World War, its content and symbols were redolent of the First.

A Vimy pilgrim's travel arrangements

Ross McIntyre of Komoka, Ontario, served in the Black Watch rather than in the Canadian Corps - but he still made the trip to France in 1936 for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial.

The Dead of Assiniboia

The memorial, which lists 39 dead from the First World War and 15 dead from the Second, was moved and repaired in 1982. The soldier had to be removed because of damage caused by vandals.

Old Boys in Brantford

Toronto's 84th Battalion was broken up in 1916 to provide reinforcements for other units, but its members continued to meet for years after the First World War ended.

Remembering the Sacrifice

A Form of Service from the unveiling of the Cross of Sacrifice in Rothesay, New Brunswick, remembering "men of the parish who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War".

From soldier to veteran

When he was discharged in 1919, Leon Cantelon of Wingham, Ontario, almost immediately joined what was then Canada's largest ex-soldiers' group, the Great War Veterans' Association.

Six Bits

The 75th Battalion drew from the Toronto area, and its association newspaper celebrated its war exploits and the postwar achievements of its members.

View PDF: PDF icon Six Bits.pdf

"Overseas in 1914"

This reunion was organized by the Originals Club, founded in 1918 to bring together men who had gone overseas with the original 1st Division. There is an unmistakeable note of nostalgia in its description of the war years and the legacies of service.

The Canadian Corps in Port Colborne

The Canadian Corps Association was founded after the Corps reunion in Toronto in 1934, and a few branches still exist in Canada, the membership rolls bolstered by descendants of originals of the Canadian Corps and veterans of later wars.

Entertainment, dancing and bridge

The Great War Veterans Association was the largest of Canada's ex-soldier groups that decided to remain independent when most others amalgamated into the Canadian Legion in 1926.

Bell's Bulldogs

This Calgary battalion took its nickname from its very popular first commanding officer. Among those listed in this directory is Prime Minister R.B. Bennett, an associate member of the organization.

View PDF: PDF icon 31st Bn 1933.pdf

A voice for veterans

The Army and Navy Veterans in Canada was one of the few such organizations that decided to remain independent when the Canadian Legion was formed in 1926.

The Heroic Dead

The Hants County, Nova Scotia, war memorial drew its inspiration from British history, from the creators of Stonehenge to the builders of the British Empire.

The Emma Gees

Every November, former machine gunners in British Columbia assembled to remember fallen comrades and enjoy an evening together. On this evening, they were all too aware that another generation of Canadians had been forced to go to war.

The good old 18th

In 1919, the members of London's Women's Canadian Club held a dinner for the returning 18th Battalion, just as they had done when the unit left London in 1914. Among the celebrities on hand were Sir Adam Beck and Hume Cronyn, MP.