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"Our Boys"

Before 1914 the Canadian military had a limited profile in the wider community. The sight of a man in uniform would have been a rare occasion. Canada had a small permanent standing army and a much larger militia. Instead of mobilizing the militia when war was declared, a special Canadian Expeditionary Force was raised. Canadians responded quickly to the call to arms and soon men in uniform were everywhere. By the end of the war some 600,000 men and women had enlisted as soldiers, nurses and chaplains. As the war progressed and casualties mounted, the need for reinforcements became acute. Recruiters were in every community with local leaders extolling men to do their patriotic duty. Young women were encouraged to shame men who had not enlisted and brand them as cowards. Military parades, arms demonstrations and patriotic rallies/recruitment events became common. Though press censorship and a propaganda machine did hide the details of the war, it could not hide the casualty figures from the public. Men returning from the front brought home the horrors of war and were often maimed or missing a limb. Shell shocked troops often had a difficult time readjusting to life at home. One was constantly reminded that Canada was at war.

This section contains materials from the Brock Silversides fonds (MG289) the Jean E. Murray fonds (MG61), the University at War Collection,  and the Postcard Collection.