Les Purs Canayens - First World War recruitment posters

During the First World War (1914-1918), the Canadian government used posters to encourage popular participation in the war effort. Those on exhibit here invited French-speaking Canadians to enlist in the armed forces.

Some posters invoked French Canada’s military traditions while others reminded French Canadians of their historic and cultural links with France. All attempted to convince French Canadians that military service was natural, honorable, and necessary.

It is difficult to measure the success of the recruitment poster campaign. By early 1916, voluntary enlistments throughout Canada had diminished to a trickle. Enormous overseas troop commitments, heavy casualties, and growing pressure by English Canadians moved Ottawa to introduce compulsory military service the following year. The ensuing election in December 1917 returned a ‘Union’ government committed to conscription, but the bitter campaign deeply divided the country along linguistic and regional lines.

World War 1 posters
CWM AN 19750046-009
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    Date created: January 15, 1999 | Last updated: August 19, 2009