Listening to 1918: Popular Songs on Canada’s Home Front

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. 

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Gault’s Light Infantry: Raising the Patricias in 1914

For over a century, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry has been one of the most celebrated regiments in Canadian history, in part for its earned reputation as “first in the field.” [1] Privately founded and raised by Montreal businessman A. Hamilton Gault, the regiment would bear the name of the Governor-General’s daughter, Princess Patricia. In an effort to “be in the field within weeks,” however, the requirements for recruitment were strict and only the best would be selected. [2]

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