“This is your flag”: Canadian WWI Recruiting Posters

A Canadian recruiting poster from World War One:

Source: Canadian War Museum

“Your flag” is of course the British Union Jack, because Canada did not yet have its own flag (and was not yet an independent nation).

But wait!

Eh bien! Well, that’s no Union Jack. Here we have the French Tricolour, with an appeal to French Canadians to aid in the victory of the Gallic rooster over the Prussian eagle:

Source: Canadian War Posters Collection, McGill University Library Digital Collections

For potential recruits who might favour a more Scottish-themed combat experience, the chance to dress in full Highland regalia, with kilt, sporran, kilt hose, and flashes:

Source: Canadian War Museum

Shure, the Irish Canadian ranger is ready for combat, or at least, ready to fire a spray of shamrocks at the enemy. Over the top, boys!

Source: Canadian War Posters Collection, McGill University Library Digital Collections

English; French; Scottish; Irish: four Canadian recruiting posters, each appealing to a different Canadian ethnic/linguistic constituency.

During World War I, at a time when Canada’s total population numbered some 8 million souls,1 Canada mobilized about 620,000 (roughly 8 percent of the total population), and suffered about 67,000 fatalities, with another 160,000-170,000 in non-fatal casualties. A significant contribution by any measure, and one we should remember.

For information on Canada and World War I, Library and Archives Canada has a brief overview with links to databases at Canada and the First World War; while the Canadian War Museum has two excellent online exhibitions: Canada and the First World War and The Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9-12, 1917.

  1. From Statistics Canada, and based on various census returns, World War I population estimates are as follows: 1914: 7,879,000; 1915: 7,981,000; 1916: 8,001,000; 1917: 8,060,000; 1918: 8,148,000.