Archives of Ontario - Canadian Posters from the First World War

Poster Gallery

How many posters were produced? This question is not easy to answer as print runs varied from only a few hundred to many thousands and, with no centralized authority being responsible for poster production, keeping track of the numbers produced would have been an impossible task. We can be certain that hundreds of thousands were printed and found their way onto billboards, into store windows, factories, and essentially anywhere people gathered.

The printing of war posters meant a huge increase in business for the major printing firms in Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal, as well as for graphic designers who often remained anonymous and therefore are not credited for their creations.

The recruiting and financial needs of the First World War were replicated in 1939 when once again Canada was drawn into war. Second World War poster production was centralized under the Bureau of Public information, which became the Wartime Information Board in 1942. Poster design differed between the two wars being often text heavy and naive during World War One compared to posters that used short, direct slogans and very strong graphics during the Second World War. All war posters were designed with one intention in mind whether for recruitment, encouraging the population to buy Victory Bonds or to increase production. The poster was expected to catch the viewer’s attention and convey a specific message that wouldn’t be easily forgotten.

There are approximately 500 posters in the Archives’ collection. Many of those can be found in the Archives of Ontario poster collection (C 233).

War Poster - Victory Bonds: Canada's Grain Cannot Be Sold Unless You Buy Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Canada's Grain Cannot Be Sold Unless You Buy Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Malcolm Gibson
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-18
Archives of Ontario, I0016156
War Poster - Victory Bonds: Faith in Canada, Use It All for Victory Bonds [Canada], [ca. 1918]
Faith in Canada, Use It All for Victory Bonds
[Canada], [ca. 1918]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-12
Archives of Ontario, I0016149


War Poster - Victory Bonds: Elles servent la France - Tout le monde peut servir [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Elles servent la France - Tout le monde peut servir [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-21b
Archives of Ontario, I0016166
War Poster - Victory Bonds: Keep All Canadians Busy [Canada], 1918
Faith in Canada, Use It All for Victory Bonds
[Canada], [ca. 1918]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-12
Archives of Ontario, I0016149


War Poster - Victory Bonds:  Safety, Income, Saleability - Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Safety, Income, Saleability - Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-1
Archives of Ontario, I0016139
War Poster - Victory Bonds: Cash-Quick! [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Cash-Quick! [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-20
Archives of Ontario, I0016158


War Poster - Victory Bonds: Doing My Bit, Four Years [Canada], [ca. 1917]
Doing My Bit, Four Years [Canada], [ca. 1917]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-9
Archives of Ontario, I0016148
War Poster - Victory Bonds: Canada's Weak Spot [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Canada's Weak Spot [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-298
Archives of Ontario, I0016170


War Poster - Victory Bonds: For Industrial Expansion Buy Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
For Industrial Expansion Buy Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Arthur Keelor
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-14
Archives of Ontario, I0016151
War Poster - Victory Bonds: Every Dollar Spent in Canada [Canada], [ca. 1915]
Every Dollar Spent in Canada [Canada], [ca. 1915]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-15
Archives of Ontario, I0016152


War Poster - Victory Bonds: Insigne d'honneur [Canada], 1918
Insigne d'honneur [Canada], 1918
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-64b
Archives of Ontario, I0016194
War Poster - Victory Bonds: Our Export Trade is Vital, Buy Victory Bonds [Canada], [between 1914 and 1918]
Every Dollar Spent in Canada [Canada], [ca. 1915]
Creator unknown
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-15
Archives of Ontario, I0016152


In this Exhibit -