With a population of approximately eight million people, Canada, during World War I, managed to raise an army of 600,000, a navy of 9,600, send over 20,000 men to serve in the British Royal Flying Corps and over 3,000 nurses with the medical corps. There were approximately 60,000 Canadian military casualties and close to 150,000 wounded from 1914-1918.
Propaganda posters played their own role during the Great War. A relatively inexpensive means of mass communication, posters were primarily used to promote enlistment in the forces, raise funds through Victory Bonds, encourage the population against waste, and increase industrial and agricultural production. The tone of early posters was almost festive, as the Allies assumed the war would be over quickly. The images were often naïve and word heavy, appealing to the pride of the young men they were targeting. However, as the war continued and the list of casualties grew, the tone of the posters began to change—the need for new recruits was urgent.
The Wildman collection of war posters was initially a secondary collection: around 1998 Christine and Craig Wildman, both history enthusiasts, decided to augment a collection of rare ephemera with related war posters. The poster collection now numbers over 100, and encompasses posters from both Allied and Central Power countries. We are grateful to the Wildmans for sharing their passion as part of RMG’s commemoration of the beginning of the Great War.