The Landships: Tanks in the First World War

The 5th CMR returning on a tank. Amiens. August 1918. Seeton Collection. CCGW/CCGG 2015.10.13.01

The 5th CMR returning on a tank. Amiens. August 1918. Seeton Collection. CCGW/CCGG 2015.10.13.01

The centenary for the Battle of Courcelette is coming up next month, the first of three for the Canadian Corps on the Somme. Courcelette represents not only the first outright success that the Corps had after two years of largely unsuccessful fighting at Ypres, but also the first use of Haig’s latest weapon; the tank.  Continue reading

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“Suitable Memorials”: The War Sculptures of Frances Loring

Frances Loring, [no date]. Image courtesy Exhibition Place, Toronto.

Frances Loring, [no date]. Image courtesy Exhibition Place, Toronto.

While doing research for another project on the war memorial in St Stephen, New Brunswick, I stumbled across the name of the artist who sculpted the bronze statuette that topped the monument; Frances Loring. Intrigued, I started to look further into this mysterious person, and stumbled upon one of the pre-eminent Canadian sculptors of the early 20th century.  Continue reading

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“Vegetables for Victory!”: Canadian War Gardens during the First World War

Victory Garden on front lawn, Crescent Road. [c1916]. William James Family Fonds, City of Toronto Archives, F1244.

Victory Garden on front lawn, Crescent Road. [c1916]. William James Family Fonds, City of Toronto Archives, F1244.

By 1916 the war had dragged on for two long years, and it was becoming obvious even to the most intractable optimists that the war was likely to last for several more. The fight was no longer a question of a breakout or total victory, but which side could outlast the other. Mass mobilisation for the war effort in Canada meant that communities were involved in the war effort as never before. Continue reading

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The horse war: Horse transport in the First World War

[Riding boots with spurs, c1915-1919] Collections CCGW/CCGG.

[Riding boots with spurs, c1915-1919] Collections CCGW/CCGG.

For those of you who follow us on Facebook, you will have seen these boots already. We received this pair of Canadian First World War era riding boots last week, complete with Canadian army marked spurs. Though these boots may have been worn by a member of the cavalry, it is more likely that they were property of a soldier working in horse transport; either with the Canadian Army Service Corps or the Canadian Field Artillery. Continue reading

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For your sweetheart: Canadian regimental pins of the First World War

144th Battalion Winnipeg Rifles [regimental brooch], c 1915-1917. Collections CCGW/CCGG

144th Battalion Winnipeg Rifles [regimental brooch], c 1915-1917. Collections CCGW/CCGG

Like many other businesses in Canada, jewelers at the outbreak of the war began manufacturing products to capitalise on public outpouring of patriotism throughout the dominion. Companies like Birks in Montreal created and sold small brooches illustrating the badges of the many battalions in the CEF, that soldiers could give to their loved ones. Commonly called “sweetheart” pins, they were suited for wear on a coat lapel or discreetly on a dress.  Continue reading

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“A suicide job”: Lt. Walter Ritchie Clarke at the Canal de l’Escaut, October 1918

"Fredericton Officers Who are Returing with 26th Battalion ", The Daily Gleaner, Friday, May 16, 1919. [Fredericton, NB]. Collections CCGW/CCGG.

“Fredericton Officers Who are Returing with 26th Battalion “, The Daily Gleaner, Friday, May 16, 1919. [Fredericton, NB]. Collections CCGW/CCGG.

Walter Ritchie Clarke had been in the militia since he was 13, when he joined the York Regiment in New Brunswick as a bugler in 1905. By the time of his enlistment with the CEF in 1916, Clarke was married with a daughter, and had been serving as an orderly room sergeant for the first two years of the war. He came directly into the CEF as an officer and was soon sent overseas with a draft of men meant for New Brunswick’s frontline battalion, the Fighting 26thContinue reading

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A machine war: The technological legacy of the Battle of the Somme

Repairing telephone wires in the Ancre Area, Hamel, October 1916. Copyright IWM (Q 1589)

Repairing telephone wires in the Ancre Area, Hamel, October 1916. Copyright IWM (Q 1589)

Tomorrow will be the centenary of the Somme and due to Canada Day the Centre will be closed, so I thought I would post something in advance of our usual Friday blog. Aside from the day of remembrance in Newfoundland, the Somme doesn’t come onto the Canadian radar until September, when the Canadian Corps was engaged at Courcelette. Continue reading

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