Introductory Essay

Volunteering was an integral part of the “total war” Canadians experienced during the First and Second World Wars, offering civilians a meaningful and practical way to contribute to the national war…

Clothes for the fashionable soldier ...

Knitting was an enormously popular activity for volunteers, with books such as this one providing patterns for everything from steel helmet caps to amputation covers.

The Red Cross in war and peace

In this appeal for support, the Manitoba Red Cross reminded veterans that, as ex-soldiers, they "have knowledge of what the Red Cross Emblem means in the fullest sense of the word." For that reason, they should support the organization's continuing work for injured and disabled soldiers.

Turning your home into an air raid shelter

While it admitted that the possibility of an enemy air attack on Canadian soil was very remote, the federal government nevertheless advised Canadians to be prepared, by ensuring that their homes offered the maximum protection against bombs.

Home ARP.pdf (34.69 MB)

Helping Britain's schools

In response to the German bombing of British cities that began in 1940, teachers in British Columbia established a fund to aid children and teachers whose homes and schools had been destroyed.

BCTF.pdf (13.11 MB)

Keeping Canada secure

As the enemy threat against Canada faded, civil defence workers turned their energies to other matters, including fighting forest fires and promoting mine safety.

CDB Sep 1944.pdf (46.15 MB)

Helping POWs

Canadians were determined fund-raisers in both world wars, and at any given time energetic groups were trying to raise money for dozens of different causes. This raffle was probably to send food parcels to Canadian prisoners of war in Germany.

Thanks from the Canadian Red Cross

Tens of thousands of Canadian women gave freely of their time and energy during the world wars, expecting nothing in return and often getting nothing more than a card of thanks and acknowledgment.

Knitting socks for soldiers

One only has to read their letters and diaries to see how important socks were to soldiers, and it was just as important to Canadians to be able to supply them. The fact that this knitting instruction sheet, preserved by Charlotte Halls of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is so well worn suggests that it was used frequently, and perhaps passed through many hands during the Second World War.

Fund-raising tag days

During the First World War, paper tags were sold to raise money for various causes; in wearing them, donors could publicly demonstrate their support of the war effort.

A student supports the Victory Loan

Ontario high school student Ross Densmore was one of tens of thousands of subscribers to the 1944 Victory Loan, the seventh such campaign in Canada during the Second World War.