Category Archives: Canada

Voting Day at the Front

soldiers voting on the Western Front

N.C.O.s and Men of Canadian Cavalry Brigade waiting to vote. December, 1917.

 

Exactly 100 years ago, in December 1917, Canadian soldiers at the front exercised their right to vote. The fact that Canada was able to keep its democratic ideals and institutions alive even under these conditions is commendable. I suspect that no one has been happier to vote than these men as it afforded them a temporary vacation from the font line, as they were allowed to leave the trenches to go vote.

Canadian Troops Cheering the British King

Canadian Troops

World War I – 1914 – 1918) Canadians cheering the British King George V, at Salisbury Plain, England. These troops likely felt a real sense of pride and joy to be reviewed by their monarch.

King George V, on horseback, reviews Canadian troops at Salisbury Plain, England.

King George V, on horseback, reviews Canadian troops at Salisbury Plain, England.

Although Canada had attained semi independent Dominion status by the time World War 1 came about, the country was very much still tied to Britain, and many anglophones felt a strong connection to Britain culturally and through family ties. Today the king or queen of England remains the head of the Canadian government, but this is a constitutional fiction only; all decisions are made by the Canadian government which has since matured into a fully independent and vibrant country of its own. But when these men had the privilege of saluting their king, they were not just saluting a figure head. For them King George tuly represented the unbreakable bond between England and her colony and they were glad to fight for him and for the mother country.

Bad Luck

Private Lawrence

Wounded Canadian Child Soldier

 

A picture of a seventeen (17) year old Canadian soldier named Lawrence, from Brantford, Ontario, who had the bad luck of being wounded just 15 minutes before the armistice was declared. He is being tended to by several nurses in a hospital. Many teenagers served in the First World War 1, on both sides of the conflict. Seeing someone this young seriously wounded just 15 minutes before the declaration of peace drives home just how futile and wasteful this war really was.

Italian Canadians Enlisting to Fight in World War 1

Italian Canadians

Italian Canadians in World War 1In this picture from 1915, a group of Italian Canadians reservists is marching through Toronto at the intersections of Yonge and Dundas Streets. Some are holding Italian flags while others are holding British and Canadian flags.

Many Italian Canadians felt a double duty to enlist and fight in the war since their mother country as well as their adopted country of Canada were both at war with the same enemy.

Italian Canadian Reservists 1915 closeup in suitsIn this closeup we can see some of the men in the center of the parade. They are wearing somewhat shabby suits. The idea of wearing suits to go to enlist in a war characterized by the muddy killing fields of the Western Front may seem ridiculous, but enlisting was seen as a momentous and formal affair (which it was) demanding a dignified attire. Many British men who signed up at the start of the war also reported for duty in formal attire for the same reason.

Italian Canadian Reservists 1915The three men in the front of the parade are better dressed than the rest and they may have been leaders within the Italian community.

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