Commemorating the First World War

Commemorating the First World War

For Canada, the First World War began on August 4, 1914, when Great Britain officially declared war against Germany. At the time, no one could imagine the four long years that lay ahead, or the fate that awaited the 620,000 brave Canadian troops who went overseas.

Now, 100 years later, our connections to ‘The Great War’ still exist. Whether it’s our family history, the heritage of our communities, or the ways in which our society was forever altered, the war continues to resonate today.

From 2014 to 2018, nations, communities and individuals across the world will remember those who fought and died in the First World War. Here in Nova Scotia, recognition of this important centenary has already begun, with several institutions launching interesting and engaging exhibits that explore aspects of the war that touched this province.


Courage and Commitment: Pictou County in the World Wars

In commemoration of the 100th and 75th Anniversaries of WWI and WWII, the Museum of Industry presents a new summer exhibit that focuses on Pictou County's contribution to the war effort at home and overseas.

Courage and Commitment: Pictou County in the World Wars highlights the military, industrial and Home Front experience of Pictou County during the wars. It features more than 100 artifacts, some of which have never been seen by the public before. The exhibit was created in partnership with community, provincial and national museums, community organizations and the private collections of several generous local residents.

"Curating this exhibit has been a humbling and rewarding experience," said co-curator Judith Hoegg Ryan. "Learning of the courage and dedication of Pictonians on both the battle and home fronts has left me with refreshed appreciation of the personal sacrifices made for our freedom, yesterday and yet today. I trust Pictonians and visitors will leave the exhibit with renewed gratitude and pride in their past."


An Act of Remembrance: First World War Publicity Posters at the Nova Scotia Archives

In a world predating radio, television and the Internet, large, brightly-coloured propaganda posters soon began appearing everywhere in the country. The posters were produced initially to encourage military enlistment, but their themes quickly expanded to include building public support for war industries, food production and the sale of war or ‘Victory’ savings bonds.   

Although never intended as lasting testimonials to Canada’s war effort, examples of these posters can be found today in many Canadian archives, including three collections that are held at the Nova Scotia Archives. Consisting of 90 different posters, the collections have been digitized to create the new online exhibit, An Act of Remembrance: First World War Publicity Posters at the Nova Scotia Archives, which features a companion article by Mora Dianne O’Neill, Associate Curator of Historical Prints and Drawings, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

This exhibit is the first in a series that the Nova Scotia Archives will develop over the next four years, and it complements the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s exhibition of propaganda posters.


Collective Remembrance: Propaganda Posters from the Great War

A century later, propaganda posters from the First World War will provide visitors to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia with an opportunity to experience an earlier generation’s feelings, fears, and hopes about the first truly global conflict.

Featuring historic war posters borrowed from three collections acquired by the Nova Scotia Archives, Collective Remembrance: Propaganda Posters from the Great War showcases the beauty and power of propaganda posters from Canada, Britain, and the United States.

More often than not, the names of the artists responsible for these posters remain lost behind time’s curtain. Generally they were designers employed by big printing houses where anonymity was the rule. Stylistically, the lingering influence of 19th century attitudes governs the design of many of the posters, but others demonstrate an awareness of avant-garde approaches to design.


Life on the Home Front

The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library (PARL) is bringing history to life through their multimedia project ‘Life on the Home Front: Antigonish and Pictou Counties during the Great War 1914- 1918’.

This four-year project goes beyond commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War by providing an in-depth perspective about how the Great War affected Pictou and Antigonish communities.

The first part of the project, a blog, features a selected article from a local newspaper published 100 years previous to the posting date.

“It’s a multi-faceted way of learning about the Great War and its impact on our community. The blog component also gives people an opportunity to see article clippings online - accessible from anywhere, adding an interactive component,” says Eric Stackhouse, Chief Librarian for the PARL who's spearheading the project.

Other parts of the project feature an expanded book and digital collection focusing on the First World War, including e-Books, DVD’s and photos easily ordered with a free library card. There will also be a monthly spotlight on stories from Antigonish and Pictou Counties related to the Great War, the first touches on Major Margaret C. MacDonald, Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Nursing Service from Bailiey’s Brook.



Whether it’s our family history, the heritage of our communities, or the ways in which our society was forever altered, the war continues to resonate today.