August 8th marked the centenary of what came to be known as the “last hundred days”, a string of Allied offensives that eventually led to the demise of the German Army and the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918.
As we commemorate the centenary of the First World War’s final year and attempt to better understand Canadian wartime views and experiences, music offers us a way of ‘hearing’ the past. The lyrics, music, and cover art of popular songs reflected the changing attitudes of Anglo-Canadians on the home front between 1914 and 1918. In the beginning, composers focused on martial songs with patriotic lyrics that encouraged enlistment and support for ‘king and country.’ Later in the war, sentimental songs were more common because there was an increasing need to comfort sad or grieving women and children on the home front. This post examines popular songs composed in 1918, providing a sense of the messages and melodies heard by Canadians one hundred years ago.