Circa 7 years ago I acquired copies of enlistment, propaganda, sensitive, campaign, first world war posters from LAC, Library Archives Canada. The collection consists of over 2000 posters from Canada, Briton, France, American, and French Canadian, with other languages depending on the regional area in Canada. 6 years ago around 15 Canadian FWW posters were found on line until I posted over 50, not counting Second World War Posters.
Since I have over 1500, I’ll post several categorise blogs:
Canadian First World War, Propaganda, Victory Bond, Campaign Posters, 1914-1918. http://wp.me/p55eja-9u
Canadian/British, Red Cross. Y.M.C.A. First World War Posters, 1914-1918. http://wp.me/p55eja-aC
Des Affiches Canadien-Français Durant La Première Guerre Mondiale, 1914-18. http://wp.me/p55eja-bx
Main Source: Dr. Serge Durflinger.
During the First World War, the Canadian government used posters as propaganda devices, for fund raising purposes and as a medium to encourage voluntary enlistment in the armed forces. Posters were an important form of mass communication in pre-radio days and hundreds existed during the war, some with print runs in the tens of thousands.
Because of Canada’s bilingual character, recruiting poster images and text reflected different cultural traditions, outlooks and sensibilities. Recruiting posters remain snapshots in time, helping historians understand the issues and moods of the past.
The French-Canadian recruiting posters on display in the Les Purs Canayens exhibit reflect Canada’s pressing demand for manpower during the First World War. They also indicate the underlying social, cultural and political strains which affected Canada’s war effort and influenced military policy. Most French-speaking Canadians did not support Canada’s overseas military commitments to the same degree as English speakers.
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the Dominion of Canada was constitutionally a subordinate member of the British Empire. When Britain was at war, Canada was at war: no other legal option existed. Nevertheless, Ottawa determined the actual nature of Canada’s contribution to the war effort, not London.
When Canadians learned they were at war, huge flag-waving crowds expressing loyalty to the British Empire drowned out voices of caution or dissent. The war would be a moral crusade against militarism, tyranny, injustice, and barbarism. “There are no longer French Canadians and English Canadians,” claimed the Montreal newspaper, La Patrie, “Only one race now exists, united…in a common cause.” Even Henri Bourassa, politician, journalist, anti-imperialist, and guiding spirit of French-Canadian nationalism, at first cautiously supported the war effort. Few Canadians could have predicted at this time that their nation soon would become a major participant in the worst conflict the world had yet seen, or that the war would place enormous political and social strains on Canada.
Recruitment: Policy versus Reality.
The Conservative government of Prime Minister Robert Borden immediately offered Britain a contingent of troops for overseas service. Thousands of men enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), then assembling at Valcartier, Québec under the personal, if chaotic, supervision of Sam Hughes, the exuberant Minister of Militia and Defence. There was a surplus of volunteers and selection standards remained high; some men, in fact, were turned away. On October 3, a convoy of ships carrying nearly 33,000 Canadian troops departed for Britain. In December 1914, Borden announced solemnly that “there has not been, there will not be, compulsion or conscription”. To find whatever manpower might be necessary, Borden placed his faith in Canadians’ patriotic spirit.
Fully two-thirds of the men of the first contingent had been born in the British Isles. Most had settled in Canada in the 15-year period of massive immigration which had preceded the Great War. The same attachment to the Mother Country was less obvious among the Canadian born, especially French Canadians, of whom only about 1000 enlisted in the first contingent. At the time war was declared, only 10 percent of the population of Canada was British born. Yet, by the Armistice in 1918, nearly half of all Canadians who served during the war had been born in the British Isles. These statistics indicate that voluntary enlistments among the Canadian born were never equal to their proportion of the population.
Following the despatch of this first contingent, the Department of Militia and Defence delegated the task of recruiting to militia units across the country. This decentralized and more orderly system raised a total of 71 battalions — each of approximately 1000 men — for service overseas. Posters, which appeared in every conceivable public space, were an important part of this large recruiting effort. The poster text and images were usually designed and printed by the units themselves and tailored to local conditions and interests. Many of the posters on display are good examples of these.
Recruitment, however, was already tapering off in the fall of 1915. In October of that year, Ottawa bowed to the pressure of patriotic groups and allowed any community, civilian organization or leading citizen able to bear the expense to raise an infantry battalion for the CEF. Some of the new battalions were raised on the basis of ethnicity or religion, others promoted a common occupational or institutional affiliation or a shared social interest, such as membership in sporting clubs, as the basis of their organization. For example, Danish Canadians raised a battalion, two battalions recruited “Bantams,” men under 5 feet 2 inches tall, and one Winnipeg battalion was organized for men abstaining from alcohol. Up to October 1917 this “patriotic” recruiting yielded a further 124,000 recruits divided among 170 usually understrength infantry battalions.
In July 1915, with two contingents already overseas and more units forming, Ottawa set the authorized strength of the CEF at 150,000 men. Extremely heavy Canadian casualties that spring during the Second Battle of Ypres indicated that additional manpower would be required on an unprecedented scale. There would be no quick end to the fighting. In October, Borden increased Canada’s troop commitment to 250,000; by the new year, this had risen to 500,000. This was an almost unsustainable number on a voluntary basis from a population base of less than eight million. Within months, voluntary enlistments for Canadian infantry battalions slowed to a trickle.
French Canada and Recruitment.
Following the nation-wide outbursts of patriotism in August 1914, French-Canadian support for the war began to decline. There existed among French Canadians a tradition of suspicion and even hostility towards the British Empire, and, while sympathetic to France, Britain’s ally, few French Canadians were willing to risk their lives in its defence either. After all, for over a century following the British conquest of New France in 1760, France showed no interest in the welfare of French Canadians. In North America, les Canadiens had survived and grown, remaining culturally vibrant without French support. By 1914, while an educated élite in French Canada professed some cultural affinity, most French Canadians did not identify with anti-clerical and scandal-ridden France.
When a French government propaganda mission toured Québec in 1918, Bourassa spoke for French Canada when he wrote of the irony of the French “trying to have us offer the kinds of sacrifices for France which France never thought of troubling itself with to defend French Canada”. In short, neither France nor Britain was “a mother country” retaining the allegiance of French Canadians. The “patriotic” call to arms rang hollow.
French Canadians’ language and culture seemed more seriously threatened within Canada than by the war in Europe. In 1912, Ontario passed Regulation 17, a bill severely limiting the availability of French-language schooling to the province’s French-speaking minority. French Canada viewed this gesture as a blatant attempt at assimilation, which it had resisted for generations. Bourassa, who by 1915 saw the war as serving Britain’s imperial interests, insisted that “the enemies of the French language, of French civilization in Canada are not the Boches [the Germans]…but the English-Canadian anglicizers…” Bourassa’s acerbic campaign against the “Prussians of Ontario” had a major impact on recruiting for “Britain’s” war. The Montreal daily, La Presse, judged Ontario’s unyielding Regulation 17 as the main reason for French-Canadian apathy. To English Canada’s calls for greater French-Canadian enrollment, Armand Lavergne, well-known nationaliste, replied: “Give us back our schools first!” Wartime appeals for unity and sacrifice came at an inopportune time.
French Canada’s views were reflected in low enrollment numbers. Yet, most Canadians of military age, notwithstanding language, did not volunteer. Those tied to the land, generations removed from European immigration, or married, volunteered the least. Significantly, these characteristics applied most often to French Canadians, although many rural English-Canadians were not enlisting either. If British immigrants are not counted, the respective contributions of French and English Canadians are more proportional than the raw data would suggest.
French Canada supplied approximately 15,000 volunteers during the war. Most came from the Montreal area, though Québec City, Western Québec and Eastern Ontario provided significant numbers. A precise total is difficult to establish since attestation papers did not require enlistees to indicate their mother tongue. Though French Canadians comprised nearly 30 percent of the Canadian population, they made up only about 4 percent of Canadian volunteers. Less than 5 percent of Quebec’s males of military age were enrolled in infantry battalions, compared to 14-15 percent in Western Canada and Ontario. Moreover, half of Quebec’s recruits were English Canadian and nearly half of French-Canadian volunteers came from provinces other than Québec. The result was an angry national debate concerning French Canada’s, and especially Québec’s, manpower contribution. Read More; http://www.civilization.ca/cwm/explo…irst-world-war
Click on any image and the large poster window will open.