All Quiet Below the Western Front

soldiers working in a mine

In the early hours of July 7th, during a relatively quiet period for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915, gunner Richard Walter Rayner moved to reoccupy his section of trench along the Ploegsteert sector of the Western Front. Temporarily assigned to aid a Signal company, Rayner worked to establish and maintain lines of communication with […]

‘Guten Appetit’: A Material Legacy of Internment at Amherst

A handcarved wooden tray made by a German prisoner of war held at Amherst Internment Camp.

At first glance, this object seems rather innocuous, if not somewhat out of place considering that it is surrounded by a vast sea of items which are more ‘typical’ of a First World War collection. Yet, when one begins to dig, one finds that it has a potent connection to what is still today a […]

‘A Grand Day’: Dominion Day 1918

men climbing into hanging barrels

Monday, July 1st, 1918 represented a major confluence of minor blessings for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Unable to predict that the war would be over before the closing of the year, military leaders were taking steps to ensure their forces were trained, equipped, and rested for the battles ahead. For the CEF, this meant a […]

Summer in Thessalonica: The Malaria Epidemic of 1916

Soldiers Sunbathing Outside No. 4 Canadian General Hospital

In light of the present pandemic, much has been written comparing Covid-19 and the global response to the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. However, influenza was hardly the only illness that proliferated during the Great War era. Given the unsanitary conditions of the battlefields and the high density of people along the various fronts, the First […]

The Spirit of our Troops: Rum Rationing as an ‘Essential Service’ on the Western Front

comic of a soldier drinking from a jug with his gun leaning on sandbags

As all non-essential activities grind to a halt in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, one of the things carefully kept on the essential side of society has been liquor stores across the country. Officially, this limits alcoholism-related withdrawal and the resultant stresses that could cause to an already strained healthcare system. However, alcohol is also […]

Flying over Thessalonica

Nurse standing on Zeppelin wreckage

Despite its role in destabilizing Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary, the Macedonian front is often overlooked. Established in 1915, following Bulgaria’s declaration of war and the resulting collapse of the Serbian front, the Salonica front—alternatively referred to as the Macedonian Front—was established around the Greek city of Thessalonica. The multinational army of English, French, Greek, Italian, Serbian, […]

“Doughboy Jack and Doughnut Jill”: A Love Story

"Doughboy Jack & Doughnut Jill" Sheet Music Cover

In the year 1919, three Canadian artists of some prominence came together to write and record a comedic love song titled “Doughboy Jack and Doughnut Jill”. The song describes an American soldier and a Salvation Army volunteer falling in love at the Western Front. Like any good love song, it contains a chance encounter and […]

Private Harry W Brown, Canada’s own 1917 Hero

Private Harry W Brown

The war film, 1917, has received rave reviews from critics and audiences for its honest but unique portrayal of World War I. The film centers around two young British soldiers who are tasked with a daunting mission: run across No Man’s Land, dodge heavy fire and evade booby-trapped trenches to hand-deliver a message that will save […]

Newfoundland & Labrador’s Forget-Me-Not

Archived image of the Beaumont-Hamel Danger Tree, an iconic Newfoundland landmark from the battle of the Somme

Before 1949, Newfoundland was an independent British Dominion, and proud of it. As “Britain’s Oldest Colony,” the people of Newfoundland and Labrador proudly showcased their distinctiveness. The Newfoundland experience of the Great War would exemplify that pride and distinction, as would the commemoration that followed. Newfoundland and Labrador were swept into the Great War, as […]

Great War Veterans and the Winnipeg General Strike

Veterans hoping to find prosperity and opportunity in peacetime were to be sorely disappointed, returning to a Canada whose social and economic landscapes had been dramatically altered by the exigencies of the war and which posed great challenges for reintegration. While Great War veterans across the whole of Canada faced these difficulties, those who found […]