Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
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).
Keep All Canadians Busy [Canada], [ca. 1918]
Archives of Ontario War Poster Collection
Reference Code: C 233-2-1-0-65
Archives of Ontario, I0016137
Archives of Ontario – Digitized WWI Poster Collections Online