World War I

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).

Army Corps and Divisional Signs

John Player & Sons Cigarette Company released a series of collectors cards titled "Army Corps & Divisional Signs 1914-1918." Originally there were only 50 in the series, but two more sets were released. In total, there are 107 in the collection.

To my Dear Family

Pte. Albert James Tufford was conscripted into the Canadian army early in 1918; by March, he was on his way overseas. Through the eleven months that he was in Europe, he sent dozens of postcards home to his family in the Niagara Falls region (his mother and younger sister) and the United States (his grandmother). In September 1918, he was sent to France; less than a month later, he was shot in the left arm and brought back to England. Tufford spent most of his eleven months at Witley Camp in Surrey, but traveled while on leave to Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. His correspondence with his family was very relaxed. He wrote a lot about the beauty of the places he visited and touched on the training he received. A few of the postcards went into detail about the wound he received in France and his medical treatment in England.

From the Princess of Wales Chapter, IODE

The gift is unknown - all that survives is the card that accompanied it, a token of thanks to a local soldier for his service.

This certificate shows that Sergeant W. Hardy is officially a Sergeant as of June 23, 1915

Your New Sergeant

This certificate indicates that William Hardy, a carpenter from Toronto, officially qualified as a Sergeant on 23 June 1915.

This PASS shows the name and date of when the soldier can enter the exhibition grounds

Visiting the Exhibition grounds

This pass was given to a civilian to allow entrance to Toronto's Exhibition grounds, perhaps to visit a soldier or to watch training in progress.

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.

"In the interests of recruiting"

The young men of Pictou County, Nova Scotia, could find a wealth of information about enlistment in this weekly pamphlet - whether they were interested in the Royal Flying Corps, the tunnelling corps, the engineers, the transport services, or the 106th Regiment Nova Scotia Rifles.

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.

Bring your friends and enlist

When voluntarism slowed down in late 1915, units resorted to many tactics - including direct mail campaigns like this one - to attract potential recruits.

From steelworker to soldier to farmer

The Soldier Settlement Board aimed to turn ex-soldiers of the First World War into farmers, something it did with only limited success. This record, kept by Joseph Morrison of Launching, Prince Edward Island, details his farming successes and failures in 1922.

Calling Francophones

Selling the First World War to French Canada was a challenge but this booklet, published as a recruiting tool, attempted to make the case in favour of participation.

Patriotism on show

This printed fabric calendar, with a typical patriotic motif and slogan, was displayed in a house in New Brunswick - at least until September 1917.

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.

Help an old soldier

To make ends meet, ex-soldiers (and probably con artists impersonating ex-soldiers) sold postcards, booklets, trinkets - and calendars.

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".

Field Day

A program for a Field Day held "somewhere in France", containing competitors and events, held on the 30th of June 1917.

Proof of veteran status

The War Service Badge, and this certificate, which verified that the holder had the right to wear it, was intended to combat the problem of the fake veteran after the First World War. Henry Whyte of St George, Ontario, served with the 19th Battalion.