The 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipients

January 21, 2020

The Vimy Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award, sponsored by Scotiabank. This award recognizes the actions of young people who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to volunteer work through positive contributions, notable deeds, or bravery that benefits their peers, school, community, province, or country.

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award consists of a fully funded week-long educational program in Belgium and France to study Canada’s tremendous First World War effort. The program, scheduled for April 2–10, 2020 features daily visits to important First World War sites including museums, cemeteries, and historic battlefields, as well as participation in the Vimy Day commemoration ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

20 students were selected from across Canada. We are so thankful to everyone who applied and appreciate your dedication to community service and your interest in Canadian history.

Congratulations to this year’s winners:

Hudson Bosch – Barrie, Ontario
Spencer Bubis – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Coralie Bureau – Victoriaville, Québec
Una Chang – Surrey, British Columbia
Charles-Édouard Corgier – Lachine, Québec
Daphné Dupuis – Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Alexandra Elmslie – Guelph, Ontario
Nahira Gerster-Sim – Vancouver, British Columbia
Elliott Grondin – Granby, Québec
Karen Guan – North York, Ontario
Sana Hashmat – Fredericton, New Brunswick
Katharine Kanters – Amaranth, Ontario
Linda Kemigisha – Edmonton, Alberta
Anna Kouao –  Vankleek Hill, Ontario
Anuj Krishnan – Edmonton, Alberta
Madison Moran – Brockville, Ontario
Alexina Nault – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Charlotte Schwartz – Ottawa, Ontario
Nazanin Soghrati – Richmond Hill, Ontario

Thank you to our lead sponsor Scotiabank for their generous support of the Vimy Pilgrimage Award. Scotiabank aims to support organizations that are committed to helping young people reach their infinite potential.



This program is also sponsored by Air Canada: The First World War is an important, strategic moment in Canadian history and Air Canada is proud to support our youth and tomorrow’s leaders by sponsoring the 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award, allowing 20 exceptional teenagers from across Canada to learn and remember.

Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – August 7, 2019

The Beaverbrook Vimy Prize participants, ready to fly out of Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on 7 August 2019.

Our 2019 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipients embarked on an immersive educational program in Belgium and in France to study Canadian history during the First and Second World Wars. Follow them as they blog about their experience!

Today’s first blogs come from our chaperones. (Please note : participants will blog in their language of preference.)

Today we begin the BVP 2019 program! I’m looking forward to spending the next two weeks working with my fellow educators/historians to teach an incredible group of Canadian, British, and French youth about the First and Second World Wars. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to engage with the past through experiential learning on the historic battlefields!

-Sara Karn


Le grand jour est enfin arrivé! C’est avec une grande joie que je prends part pour la première fois au Prix Vimy Beaverbrook 2019 comme accompagnatrice. Je me réjouis à la perspective de découvrir les sites canadiens de la Première et de la Seconde Guerre mondiale avec un groupe de jeunes étudiants et étudiantes curieux, enthousiastes et passionnés d’histoire. 

-Chloé Poitras-Raymond


L’heure est enfin arrivée et nous quittons Montréal pour les lointaines contrées européennes. Pour ma part, c’est la première fois que je participe en tant qu’accompagnateur pour le PVB et je suis fébrile à l’idée de rencontrer mes collègues, les étudiants et étudiantes qui se joignent à nous cette année pour approfondir leur savoir et leurs réflexions autours des deux conflits mondiaux. J’espère pouvoir piquer leur curiosité historique et leur ouvrir de nombreuses nouvelles portes d’interprétations et de compréhension sur ces deux conflits, sur leurs impacts non seulement sur le Canada et l’Europe, mais aussi sur le monde.

-Thomas Vennes


As we get ready to board the flight to Brussels, we’re looking forward to getting the 2019 BVP started. We have a great itinerary lined up and it will be a lot of fun to visit these important historical sites with a fantastic group of students. Having the opportunity to learn about the First and second World Wars while experiencing the sites and battlefields is a tremendous opportunity for the students to immerse themselves in the stories that marked this critical period in not only Canadian, but also world history.

-Sean Graham


I am beyond thrilled and honored to be returning with the Vimy Foundation and part of the Beaverbrook program. This is my second experience with the Vimy Foundation and I look forward to this incredible opportunity with the students. The experiences and knowledge shared during these 14 days will be remarkable and something that I will never forget. As a teacher I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences with 16 amazing students. Every day will offer amazing opportunities for everyone to learn and grow and I look forward to learning with and from the students throughout this journey.

-Christopher Kinsella


A Legacy in Colour

Over a century ago, (William) Ernest Keeling of the UK enlisted as a motorcycle dispatch rider early in the war. Having trained throughout the summer months of 1915, he arrived on the Western Front in late July 1915.

In summer 2019, his descendants, now living in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, discovered a photo of Ernest Keeling in our collection of pictures from the First World War in Colour project. This is the first time a subject in one of our colourized photos has been identified!

Ernest Keeling was identified as the main subject in this colourized photo from November 1917.

The photo, taken by official Canadian war photographer William Rider-Rider in November 1917, features a dispatch rider riding away from a mobile pigeon loft built onto a converted London bus. This photo was colourized by the Vimy Foundation and digital colourist Canadian Colour, and is featured in the book They Fought in Colour, published by Dundurn Press in 2018.

Between the summer of 1916 and the end of the war, Canada’s official war photographers took nearly 8,000 photographs. However, most of the records related to these images do not have any information on the subjects of the photos.

This discovery has been an emotional one for the grandchildren of Ernest Keeling, cousins Mihiteria King of NZ, Sarah Buttimore (nee Keeling) of the UK, and Graham Keeling of Australia. They have newspaper clippings of Ernest with pigeons on his motorbike during the First World War, but hadn’t come across the photo in colour. Uncovering the service of their grandfather from the war has been extremely impactful.

They have also since discovered that two of Ernest’s medals have been located in the The Royal Engineers Museum in Kent U.K.. All their research is compiled on a neat webpage for safekeeping. You can find out more about Ernest Keeling here.

The Treaty of Versailles
A Centenary Action

Following months of negotiations between heads of state and diplomatic teams at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, the First World War was formally concluded on June 28, 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

A Peace Conference at the Quai d’Orsay. William Orpen. IWM (Art.IWM ART 2855)


For Canada, having representation at the Paris Peace Conference and signing the Treaty of Versailles was vitally important; Prime Minister Borden campaigned hard for this inclusion. As he stated in Parliament:

On behalf of my country I stood firmly upon this solid ground; that in this, the greatest of all wars, in which the world’s liberty, the world’s justice, in short the world’s future destiny were at stake, Canada had led the democracies of both the American continents. Her resolve had given inspiration, her sacrifices had been conspicuous, her effort was unabated to the end. The same indomitable spirit which made her capable of that effort and sacrifice made her equally incapable of accepting at the Peace Conference, in the League of Nations, or elsewhere, a status inferior to that accorded to nations less advanced in their development, less amply endowed in wealth, resources, and population, no more complete in their sovereignty and far less conspicuous in their sacrifice.

Canada signed the Treaty independently, but the signature was indented under “British Empire”. While this did reflect the continued ambiguity of Canada and the other dominions’ role in the world, it did represent a significant step for Canada gaining full independence over its foreign policy. Twelve years later, the Statute of Westminster (1931) granted Canada the ability to determine its own external affairs. The international recognition Canada received was due in no small measure to the sacrifices of its armed forces throughout the First World War.

An independent foreign policy meant that Canada would no longer be obliged to enter a war because of its relationship with England – as it had in August 1914. Future wars would only be entered with the consent of Parliament. Consequently, with the start of the Second World War, when England declared war on Germany Sept. 3, 1939, Canada was not obligated to follow England’s lead and entered the war Sept. 10, 1939, after a vote in the House of Commons.

After the Treaty had been signed in June 1919, a special session of Parliament was summoned on September 1, 1919 for the Treaty to be ratified in Canada. During this special session, Prime Minister Borden spoke about the agreement of all countries to the terms of the Treaty:

I do not claim that there was no hesitation, or even that there was no protest. Probably there was not a single nation whose representatives were absolutely satisfied with every disposition contained in that Treaty. I do not except the representatives from Canada from that sweeping assertion. But there was the great outstanding fact that thirty-two nations of varying and sometimes conflicting ideals and aspirations, widely divergent in status, in power, and in political development, and separated sometimes by ancient antagonisms and long-standing jealousies, did finally give their undivided assent to a Treaty, which whatever its imperfections may be, was designed in all sincerity to assure the future peace of the world.

Despite Borden’s claims above, the terms were not without controversy. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations, along with accepting responsibility for having caused all the loss and damage during the war. Some felt that these terms were overly harsh; others were critical that it was too lenient. Many would argue that the that the terms imposed by the treaty created the conditions that would lead to the unrest in Germany and outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 – the exact opposite of the intentions of those involved in the treaty’s creation.

Image : Portrait of Sir Robert Laird Borden. Sir William Orpen collection. Library and Archives Canada / Acc. No. 1991-76-1 / C-11238.

From Library and Archives Canada: “This portrait of Sir Robert Laird Borden (1854-1937), Canada’s ninth prime minister, was painted by Sir William Orpen (1878-1931) during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Orpen had been commissioned by the British Government to produce a commemorative work of the historic event. As did other delegates, Borden sat for an individual sketch which later served as a model for the Prime Minister’s portrait in a large group portrait of conference delegates at the event. The finished group portrait, A Peace Conference at the Quai d’Orsay, now hangs in the Imperial War Museum in London. This unique portrait of Sir Robert Borden was produced during one of the four occasions on which the prime minister sat for Orpen, and reflects the prime minister’s fragile state of health, the demands of the previous months putting him at the brink of physical and emotional collapse.”


“Canada and the Peace: A Speech by Robert Laird Borden on the Treaty of Peace,” (Ottawa: 1919).


A tribute to Joseph Bernard Hill

To honour National Indigenous Peoples’ Day on June 21, we share the words of one of our Beaverbrook Vimy Prize alumni, Andrew Yin of Ontario.

While researching for the 2016 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, I learnt about Joseph Bernard Hill, a First Nations man who fought in the First World War who was killed in September 1918. In August 2016, during the program in France, I visited the Ontario Cemetery, where Joseph was buried, to commemorate his life. It was a powerful experience that left a lasting impact on me. I would like to share my feelings in a tribute to Joseph Bernard Hill.

2016. Here I stand, in front of you. By stumbling upon your name, a journey through history, through your life, had commenced.

1914. September. The atmosphere was increasingly tense, as Canada was obligated to join the war. However, there was also a sense of patriotism; you, as a First Nations man, were prepared and ready to fight for your country.

1915. March. You were 19, not much older than I am right now. You were finally allowed to enlist into the military, with the service number 89648. Away from your homeland, you went sailing with thousands of men across the Atlantic towards a foreign land.

1918. September 30th. Three-and-a-half years after your enlistment. The armistice was about to be called; however, it was one month too late. In Northern France, you were part of a courageous group of Canadians who slowly advanced despite being under intense fire. Unfortunately, on this fateful day, you were stuck by a bullet.

1918, 22 years old. You became a part of the 60,000 Canadians, including the 300 Aboriginal men, whose lives were forever laid far away from home. However, through your sacrifice, you have proven to the rest of Canada that as a First Nations person, you deeply cared about your country. You helped Canada to march a small step forward. Your name, forever inscribed on a gravestone in Northern France, bears testimony to your determination and perseverance, silently but powerfully inspiring your next generation; you had made a lasting impact on your community.

2016. Joseph, your contributions have not been forgotten. I followed a journey through your life, a story of courage and grit. Now, it has a deeper significance to me. Inspired by you, I know that I shall never give up on the road to reach my goals, no matter how difficult it may be. I will keep fighting my battle, as long as I can.

Your sacrifice is a lesson for us to respect. You enlisted during a period of rampant discrimination towards your people; however, you have proven that these were unjustified. A respect towards Aboriginal Canadians is long overdue.

Finally, because of you, I asked myself: what can I do to make Canada a better place? I am part of a fresh generation whose actions will determine the Canada of tomorrow. Joseph, your noble actions inspire me to be more dedicated to making positive changes in my community.

Joseph Bernard Hill, a name that is inscribed on my heart. Today, I am here to appreciate and respect the life that you had sacrificed. I am here to thank you for inspiring me to share the torch of remembrance.

In November 2016, I visited the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, where Joseph lived, and donated a rubbing of Joseph’s headstone, bringing a part of him home. As a result of my Beaverbrook Vimy Prize journey, I have been sparked by the flame of remembrance, hoping to do my part in creating a better Canada for everyone.

(Read an article about Andrew’s visit to the MBQ Council.)

Joseph Bernard Hill, born November 26, 1895, to Joseph and Bernadetta Hill of Deseronto, Ontario. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field in July 1917, with the citation reading: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at FARBUS on May 3rd 1917. This N.C.O. was in charge of the linesmen and kept patrolling the lines despite the intense enemy shell fire and not only supervised the repairing of the lines but also carried messages from the Brigade to the other Batteries whose lines were out. The lines were continuously being broken but communications were never lost for more than a few minutes at a time. Cpl. HILL by his splendid display of courage and coolness under heavy shell fire set a magnificient [sic] example to the men in his charge.” Killed on September 30, 1918.

View his Service Record here from Library and Archives Canada.




Hiring: Communications Coordinator (Maternity Leave Contract)



The Vimy Foundation, a nationally recognized Montreal-based not-for-profit organization, is currently looking for a Communications Coordinator as a 12-month maternity leave replacement.

The Communications Coordinator directs planning and implementation of strategic communications to enhance the Foundation’s reputation locally, regionally, and nationally.

Reporting to the Executive Director, Communication Coordinator plays a key role in working with and supporting the Foundation and is an integral member of the team.

Salary: $39-42k commensurate with experience.

Location: Montreal, QC

The Vimy Foundation is a registered charity founded in 2006. Its mission is to preserve and promote Canada’s First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 – a milestone when Canada earned its place on the world stage. To learn more, visit



Leads on the development of print and digital media strategies and integrated communications campaigns for Foundation constituencies, with the goal of promoting the mission of the Foundation to audiences and stakeholders, including community members, youth, media, and donors.

Works with the Executive Director, Programs Manager and others within the organization to create internal and external communications pieces and ensure that content is produced and placed throughout print, online and social media communications channels.

Serves as the Foundation’s media liaison facilitating media opportunities for the Executive Director and select Board Directors.

Serves as lead of all items related to the Foundation website, all social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube) and other regular digital and print communications.



– Prepare (and follow up on) pitches to local, regional and national media outlets
– Able to write and edit across different writing platforms including for social media, print and digital media
– Coordinating social media and leading communications efforts
– Developing and updating content for website and social media channels
– Developing special event plans and executing them on site
– Coordinating digital and print advertising
– Some knowledge of fundraising including grant writing and donor reporting


– Bilingualism in French and English preferred
– Minimum 2 years in communications, outreach/networking, or event planning environment
– Strong writing skills
– Knowledge of Canadian media landscape
– Proven ability to organize and execute events
– University undergraduate degree
– Interest in Canadian history and culture
– Ability to work in a fast-paced, dynamic, changing environment
– Excellent interpersonal skills
– Intermediate level of MS Office
– Experience with WordPress or other CMS, MailChimp, Google Analytics, Google Ads
– Ability to focus on achieving desired outcomes while managing competing priorities
– Proven ability to lead collaborative processes engaging diverse stakeholders, including board directors, in developing, supporting and implementing strategic directions
– Proven ability to work effectively and constructively under pressure


Please submit resume and cover letter to by 11:59PM EDT on Monday, June 24. We thank all candidates for their interest, but only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

This organization is committed to equity in its policies, practices, and programs. We support diversity in our work environment and ensure that applications from members of underrepresented groups are seriously considered under the employment equity policy. All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.


Commemorating D-Day 75

Today we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

June 6, 1944—D-Day—a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel. The Canadians successfully captured their shoreline positions at Juno Beach and penetrated the farthest inland, but victory came at a high cost: 359 Canadian soldiers were killed on D-Day alone.

Each year, our Beaverbrook Vimy Prize students have the opportunity to visit Juno Beach and the Juno Beach Centre, Beny-sur-Mer cemetery, and other important sites of the Battle of Normandy. Today, to mark this important anniversary, we have collected some of their reflections from over the years. (Please note: students will blog in their language of preference).


Similar to my experience at Vimy Ridge, Juno Beach was a unique and humbling experience. Building off of the success of the First World War, Canada was given increasingly important responsibilities climaxing with the contributions of Canadians in the landings on Juno Beach. It was truly humbling to walk along the sand that Canada had been trusted by the world to take; the sand that hundreds of Canadians had fallen on. Yet walking across the sand was strangely peaceful.

Meeting the locals and taking in the beauty of the area, it was to believe that a major battle was once fought here. The trenches, bunkers, beaches, mulberries in the harbour, all made for a sobering and meaningful experience.

– Adam Labrash, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2016

C’était très intéressant de voir le débarquement du point de vue Canadien et d’en apprendre plus sur le long et rigoureux entrainement pour faire partie des forces Alliées. Ensuite, nous sommes allés au cimetière Canadien de Bény sur Mer, qui était magnifique. Là-bas, j’ai été très impressionné par deux épitaphes de Canadiens mort le Jour J et dans les jours suivant : « I have fulfilled my duty » et « All you had you gave to save mankind. Yourself you scorned to save your life ».

– Paul Toqueboeuf, Boulogne, France; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2017

An interesting moment was visiting the Beny-sur-mer cemetery because we were able to see how the epitaphs for the First and Second World Wars are different. What I found very interesting was how so many of the Second World War epitaphs were more personal, with fewer religious references, and often stated who had chosen the epitaph. This made me think about who headstones are really for. The deceased, or those they left behind. I also wondered about why the shift towards personal, familial epitaphs occurred.

– Sabrina Ashgar, Northwood, Middlesex, UK; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2017


As the sun rose halfway behind grey clouds on Juno Beach approximately 2.5 hours after we expected it, I stood hand in hand with my family, sang an off-key and sleep rough national anthem, and walked slowly up the pier, rocks clacking in our pockets. The boots of 14,000 soldiers walked behind us, marching us slowly into the morning light. No matter what happens, their light will sustain us. No matter what happens, we will face the hardship together. No matter what happens, we will love each other, wholly and unconditionally. And on days like these, it almost seems like that could be enough. Lest we forget.

– Rachel Bannerman, St. Catharines, ON; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2015

Aujourd’hui, nous avons visité plusieurs endroits historiques liés à la Bataille de Normandie. J’ai particulièrement apprécié le tour des bunkers, en plus de notre visite au Centre Juno Beach. Durant le tour des Bunkers, j’ai eu l’opportunité de voir ceux-ci en personne, c’était impressionnant de se trouver où les soldats allemands commandaient et observaient l’ennemi, car je pouvais voir des sites historiques ayant bravés le temps. J’ai également été surprise d’apprendre qu’un des bunkers avait été découvert récemment, il y a environ 8 ans. Apprendre cela m’a fait réfléchir: si les humains découvrent encore, de nos jours, des objets et lieux historiques, allons-nous continuer à en retrouver ? Pour moi, voir des représentations visuelles des évènements historiques de cet endroit était plus touchant que lire de l’information sur le sujet, puisque je pouvais me mettre momentanément dans la peau des soldats durant la Bataille de Normandie et ainsi imaginer ce qu’il aurait pu vivre à l’époque.

– Laetitia Champenois Pison, Montreal QC; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2018

It was an amazing experience to be on the beach and see the geography of it all. It made it much clearer in my mind. I’ve seen pictures hundreds of times but nothing can compare to seeing it in real life.

– Cassidy Choquette, Steinbach MB; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2018

There is a post with the name and home town of all of the soldiers who died on Juno Beach on June 06, 1944. As we walked amongst the names, we were all struck by the realization that we recognized a lot of the town names from home, and it was not just big cities represented, but small towns as well. The soldiers who stormed that beach 70 years ago came from across Canada, as did the youth in this delegation today. If we learned nothing else about the war today, it would have been that soldiers came from everywhere, and communities large and small would have felt the devastation of loss in the fight to bring democracy to the world.
– Loralea Wark, Whitehorse, YK; Beaverbrook Vimy Prize 2014


Learn more:

Juno Beach Centre

Veterans Affairs Canada

Announcing our 2019 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Recipients!

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize! 16 students were selected to participate in an immersive educational program in Belgium and France. From August 7-20, 2019, they will learn about our history during the First and Second World War.

Alliya Arifa – Ouroux sur Saone, France
Meaghan Bulger – Charlottetown, PE
Maya Burgess-Stansfield – Uxbridge, ON
Phillip Darley – Hamilton, ON
Evan Dicesare – Stephenville, NL
Andelina Habel-Thurton – Montréal, QC
Rose He – Fredericton, NB
Nimra Hooda – Edmonton, AB
Andréa Jackson – Orillia, ON
Noah Korver – Olds, AB
Sophia Long – Pinawa, MB
Lily Maguire – London, England
Jack Roy – Fredericton, NB
Isaac St-Jean – Prévost, QC
Florence Trigaux – Rimouski, QC
Nathan Yee – Vancouver, BC

There were so many impressive applications that once again choosing only 16 participants was extremely difficult. We thank all those who applied and demonstrated their hard work and dedication.

This program is made possible due to generous support from the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation.

March 26 – Propaganda during the Great War
First World War Centennial Speaker Series

On March 26, 2019, historians Marie-Eve Chagnon and Guillaume Marceau of the collective “Les échos de l’Histoire” spoke with guests at the Chateau Ramezay in Montreal about Propaganda during the Great War. These two experts analyzed the historiography surrounding the issue of atrocities in Belgium and the Manifesto of 93, a German document published in October 1914, and examined the importance given to the Canadian side in concept of atrocities in propaganda.

Marie-Eve Chagnon is an independent researcher. She completed her Ph.D. at Concordia University in Montreal in April 2012 and was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Canadian Center for German and European Studies at the Université de Montréal from 2012-2014. Her research focuses on the history of international scientific relations and more specifically on the impact of the First World War on the German and French scientific communities. Her current research analyzes the role played by the American scientific community in the process of reconciliation after the First World War. Since 2019, she co-founded the Echoes of History with Guillaume Marceau.

Guillaume Marceau is a lecturer, independent researcher and lecturer (Concordia, UQÀM, UQO, UdeM). He completed a Master’s degree in History at UQÀM in 2007. His research focuses on the world wars of the 20th century and more specifically on the relationship of liberal democracies with the phenomenon of propaganda between 1914 and 1950. His current work analyzes the issues of cultural myths in international relations and the impact of globalization on the national historical memory. Since 2019, he has co-founded Echoes of History with Marie-Eve Chagnon, PhD.

As the Canadian War Museum notes, “All combatant nations use propaganda in wartime to encourage citizens to make sacrifices and contributions to hasten victory or endure defeat. Governments and private organizations produce or commission posters and other items to support recruitment, promote military production, inform citizens about proper conduct, and assure people that their governments are taking appropriate action.”

Type of dummy used in Canadian Forces for instructing troops in Bayonet fighting, designed and constructed by Q.M.S. E. Drake 4th Reserve Battalion. Lt.-Col. H.G. Mayes Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff. Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/ PA-004782. (modified from the original).

As R.H. Thomson writes in They Fought in Colour, “So why did they do it? Why did all those young Canadians head off to war? Some did it because they believed the jingoistic slogans of the day. “For King and Country” was the favourite, especially for those newly arrived from Britain who had just started a new home on our side of the Atlantic. Others did it because they needed a job — and this one paid relatively well, plus there was the promise of “room and board.” Still others did it because their pals were doing it. They all did it because when the call went out in August 1914, everyone believed the war would be wrapped up and won by Christmas and they’d all be home for the holidays. But no, that’s not what happened.” (p. 262)

Enlist! New Names in Canadian History : recruitment campaign. Library and Archives Canada. Item number 2894450.

Recruitment and morale were important themes throughout the propaganda efforts of the First World War. Watch as Guillaume Marceau speaks at length about the ways different events are presented and remembered by various groups during the First World War. In this case, he looks at the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915.

This wartime recruitment poster (CWM 19670086-007) demonstrates how the British transformed the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania by a German U-Boat on 7 May 1915 into a wide spread propaganda campaign.

Here, we see the German postcard of the sinking of the Lusitania that Guillaume Marceau referred to in his lecture above:


Not only was propaganda a tool for recruitment, food and factory production, and donations, but during the First World War in particular, atrocity propaganda was widespread. Exaggeration and invention of atrocities often becomes the main staple of the propaganda efforts, and during the early stages of the war it played a major role in creating the waves of patriotism that characterized 1914/1915.

Marie-Eve Chagnon spoke about the wartime events taking place in Belgium, and the different ways that these actions were reported on and reacted to in Germany versus Britain, in particular the form of spontaneous propaganda, rather than official state-issued news and posters.

Belgium, a neutral state, was forced into the First World War by a German ultimatum. What is referred to as “the Rape of Belgium” was the German mistreatment of civilians during the invasion and subsequent occupation of Belgium during the First World War. British and Allied media reported widely on the atrocities taking place at the hands of German soldiers.

But in response, German intellectuals produced the ‘Manifesto 93’ of October 1914. This was a proclamation endorsed by 93 prominent German scientists, scholars and artists, declaring their unequivocal support of German military actions in the early periods of the war. It begins, “As representatives of German Science and Art, we hereby protest to the civilized world against the lies and calumnies with which our enemies are endeavoring to stain the honour of Germany in her hard struggle for existence — in a struggle that has been forced on her.”

You can read the English translation of the Manifesto, as well as see the full list of signatories here from Wikipedia.

While the events that took place in Belgium were clearly reported differently on both sides, after the war it is more the traumatic experience of the soldiers in the trenches that take precedence over our collective memories of the war, according to Marie-Eve Chagnon. It is not until the 1990s with the renewed interest in addressing war crimes in the Balkans and violence in the Canadian residential school system that there is again interest in looking at the controversial issue of the atrocities of 1914.


Discussion questions and activities:

– Peruse the collection of propaganda posters of the Canadian War Museum. Do you see any common themes emerge? Choose one poster that speaks strongly to you and analyze the words and images. Who is this poster trying to influence? Why would the designer have chosen those particular words or images? Do you think this would have been an influential poster during the First World War? Why or why not?

– As discussed in our previous First World War Centennial Speaker Series, photography of the First World War was another important way of controlling and disseminating information from the war front to the home front. Look through the selection of images online at the Vimy Foundation’s First World War in Colour collection. What messages were the photographers trying to convey to people back in Canada with these images? Do you think they would have been successful in motivating peoples’ emotions?

– Using newspaper archive sources like Google, can you find news articles from May and June 1915 about the sinking of the Lusitania? Are there particular images or words used by the newspapers to emphasize the wartime atrocity?

– Overall, do you think that propaganda changed the course of the war?  If so, why and how?  If not, why not?

– Do you think propaganda can be found in our society today? Although propaganda takes many forms, it can recognized by its use of techniques that activate strong emotions, simplify ideas, respond to audience needs, and attack opponents. Consider social media, news media, and other sources. Brainstorm with your classmates some recent examples of propaganda.




Thank you to our supporters of the First World War Centennial Speaker Series: The Government of Canada and the R. Howard Webster Foundation.


Administrative Assistant


We are currently looking for an Administrative Assistant to join our team. The role encompasses front line administration and donor management, as well as basic bookkeeping. Reporting to the Executive Director, Programs Manager and Communications Manager, this position will be a key member of the team working with and supporting management.

Salary: $33-36k commensurate with experience.
Location: Montreal, QC





– Donor relations: act as first point of contact; monitor, sort, and respond to donor inquiries via email and phone. Prepare and send tax receipts, invoices, and receipts.

– Process payments from merchandise sales and donations; sort, record, and file transactions using payment processing platform and bookkeeping software.

– Basic bookkeeping (payables and receivables): maintain books, records, financial reporting.

– General administration: first point of contact with donors and suppliers; fielding questions; tracking and organizing donor information; updating donor contact list; coordinating shipments.

– Prepare expense reports; draft emails and letters; update contact database; coordinate meetings; file documents; etc.

– Record, transcribe, and synthesize board meeting minutes.

– Support management and board directors with administrative needs.

– Assist with special projects as needed.

– Represent the foundation at special events and commemorative ceremonies as needed.



– Post-secondary degree in a related area and previous administrative experience in a fast-paced environment preferred.

– Bilingual (French/English)

– Excellent oral and written communication skills.

– Pleasant disposition, welcoming, hospitable, able to work in fast paced environment with diverse task list. Good communication skills.

– Discrete, polished demeanor, respectful, ability to interact with diverse personality types.

– Strong organizational skills, detail oriented, highly efficient.

– Ability to work independently and to follow direction.

– Excellent time management, able to meet deadlines.

– Attention to detail and ability to handle confidential and sensitive information.

– Knowledge of Sage50 an asset.

– Strong knowledge of the MS Office Suite, including Word, Outlook, and Excel.

– Stripe, Square, MailChimp, WordPress, Wufoo, Survey Monkey, etc. an asset.

If this offer interests you, please send your CV to with “Administrative Assistant Candidate” and your name in the subject line. Deadline to apply is end of day, Sunday, May 12, 2019. 

This organization is committed to equity in its policies, practices, and programs. We support diversity in our work environment and ensure that applications for members of underrepresented groups are seriously considered under the employment equity policy. All qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.