MA-N10053 | Canadian recruits in Canada

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Canadian recruits in Canada
1915, 20th century
This artefact belongs to : © Manitoba Archives
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Keys to History

A proud platoon of recruits, a mixture of boys and mature men who volunteered in 1915, pose at a camp in Manitoba. They are probably sweating under their flannel shirts and heavy khaki wool trousers, but they are spared their wool serge tunics, and their heads are protected by the floppy straw "cows breakfast" adopted by most prairie farmers and by the Canadian militia in its peacetime training camps. The front ranks at least hold the Canadian-made Ross Rifle which, they have probably been told, is one of the most accurate military rifles in use in the world. Military life in the summer was a familiar experience for Canadian farm boys, even in peacetime. Joining the militia for summer camp was a good way to get away from familiar chores for a couple of weeks and to earn a few dollars. But this was a bigger adventure than some of these men realized: as many as half of them were not going to come home alive. Filling their shoes after the enthusiasts had left would shatter Canadian unity as it had never been broken before.

The Militia Department left recruiting to militia regiments or to prominent men who hoped to become colonels by enlisting their own battalions. A powerful appeal to recruitment was that a volunteer would serve with his pals and with men from his home town or county. A photograph like this, sent home to prove that all were well and happy, could bring added recruits.

  • What

    A platoon of twenty men and two instructors (in peaked caps) lines up for a photographer. Most of the soldiers are wearing the customary summer camp uniform of a shirt, trousers, straw hat and regulation canvas or leather belt with a snake buckle. They are carrying the Ross Rifle.

  • Where

    The photograph was taken at a camp in Manitoba.

  • When

    Notes on the photograph indicate that it was taken in 1915.

  • Who

    Look at the variety of ages and backgrounds reflected by these men. What they had in common was that all had volunteered for the C.E.F. The reasons were as varied as the men.