d_day 60th Anniversary: The Archives of Ontario Remembers the Home Front - Joining Up - Page Banner

From the fall of France in June of 1940 until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Canada was Britain’s largest ally in the war with Germany. With the hurried evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, the British were forced to leave behind their military equipment and weapons. This left a Canadian division in Britain as one of the few equipped and intact units in place to defend the country.

At the same time, a secure location was needed to train the pilots and aircrews that would defend Britain. This placed a huge burden on Canada as it sought to raise as many troops as possible and move them across the Atlantic.

With the entry of the Soviet Union and the United States into the war the emphasis moved from raising troops to defend Britain to creating an army to participate in the planned invasion of Europe.

This part of the exhibit illustrates Ontario’s participation in the recruitment of a Canadian army.

Enlistment - Title Banner
Photo: Special review day at Ontario Agricultural College [ca. 1939-1946]
Click to see a larger image (109K)
Special review day at Ontario Agricultural
College [ca. 1940]
Black and white negative
Reference Code: RG 16-276-10
Archives of Ontario, I0017212

At its height in 1944 more than 750,000 Canadians were serving in the armed forces.

Of these, 481,000 served in the army, 206,000 in the air force and 75,000 in the navy. All this from a total population of 11 million in the whole of Canada.

Conn Smythe, the president of Maple Leaf Gardens, served as an officer during the Second World War and loaned the use of his facility as an enlistment centre.

Other sports celebrities lent themselves to promotional activities in favour of enlistment, such as the Toronto Telegram’s Sports writer Ted Reeve. The 30th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in the Canadian Army, led by Conn Smythe, was unofficially called the Sportsmens' Battery.

Photo: Conn Smythe and others enlisting for service at Maple Leaf Gardens, 1939
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Conn Smythe and others enlisting for
service at Maple Leaf Gardens, 1939
Photographer unknown
Black and white print
Conn Smythe fonds
Reference Code: F 223-1-1-12
Archives of Ontario, I0016694

Photo: Ted Reeve (Toronto Telegram Sports writer) enlisting for Sportsmen Battery with Conn Smythe at Maple Leaf Gardens, 1939
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Ted Reeve (Toronto Telegram Sports writer)
enlisting in the Sportsmen's Battery with Conn
Smythe at Maple Leaf Gardens, 1939
Black and white print
Conn Smythe fonds
Reference Code: F 223-1-1-12
Archives of Ontario, I0016695

Photo: Soldiers in mess hall, [ca. 1940]
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Soldiers in mess hall, [ca. 1940]
Herbert Nott fonds
Black and white negative
Reference Code: C 109-2-0-18
Archives of Ontario, I0008962

Photo: Four soldiers in front of “Men Enlist” sign, 30th Battery, 1941
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Four soldiers in front of “Men Enlist”
sign, 30th Battery, 1941
Conn Smythe fonds
Black and white print
Reference Code: F 223-1-1-13
Archives of Ontario, I0016698



Photo: Inspecting new enlistees at Maple Leaf Gardens, [ca. 1939]
Click to see a larger image (91K)
Inspecting new enlistees at
Maple Leaf Gardens, [ca. 1939]
Conn Smythe fonds
Black and white print
Reference Code: F 223-1-1-12
Archives of Ontario, I0016697

Photo: Inspecting new enlistees at Maple Leaf Gardens, [ca. 1939] (2)
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Inspecting new enlistees at
Maple Leaf Gardens, [ca. 1939]
Black and white print
Conn Smythe fonds
Reference Code: F 223-1-1-12
Archives of Ontario, I0016696

Women in the Military - Title Banner

Photo: Member of the Canadian Women's Army Corps (C.W.A.C.), Trinity Barracks, [ca. 1945]

Like the industrial workforce, the participation of women in the armed forces increased exponentially over the course of the war. In 1939 140 women were in uniform. By 1944 this had risen to nearly 36,000.

During the First World War most women served as nurses, with few enlisting in other branches of the armed forces. In the Second World War, women assumed many of the non-combat roles previously filled by men including serving as pilots, drivers and clerks in Canada and Great Britain.

Click to see a larger image (122K)
Member of the Canadian Women's Army Corps
(C.W.A.C.), Trinity Barracks, [ca. 1945]
Gordon W. Powley fonds
Black and White negative
Reference Code: C 5-1-0-80-3
Archives of Ontario, I0011205

Photo: Military personnel in an army vehicle, [ca. 1945]
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Military personnel in an army vehicle, [ca. 1945]
Gordon W. Powley fonds
Black and white negative
Reference Code: C 5-1-0-61-8
Archives of Ontario, I0011108

Photo: Female miltary personnel working in an office, [ca. 1945]
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Female military personnel
working in an office, [ca. 1945]
Gordon W. Powley fonds
Black and white negative
Reference Code: C 5-1-0-61-2
Archives of Ontario, I0011103

Photo: Members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps (C.W.A.C.) reading magazines in a lounge in the Trinity Barracks, [ca. 1945]
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Members of the Canadian Women's Army Corps
(C.W.A.C.) reading magazines in a lounge in
the Trinity Barracks, [ca. 1945]
Gordon W. Powley fonds
Black and White negative
Reference Code: C 5-1-0-80-7
Archives of Ontario, I0011208

Photo: Women in military uniform, [ca. 1945]
Click to see a larger image (96K)
Women in military uniform, [ca. 1945]
Gordon W. Powley fonds
Black and white negative
Reference Code: C 5-1-0-65-1
Archives of Ontario, I0011126