A Mother's Sacrifice

The Canadian Mother_Cropped.jpg

The Canadian Mother, Union Government Publicity Bureau, 1917. Ottawa: Heliotype Co., Ltd. Baldwin Collection, Toronto Reference Library.

"Most of the time mother is so spunky and gay you would never guess what she feels inside; but now and then some little thing is too much for her and we see under the surface.”

Rilla on Anne Blythe. L. M. Montgomery, Rilla of Ingleside. NY: Stokes, 1921.

During the war, the mother figure was drawn on as an important symbol of the British Empire with her son playing the role of Canada. Images of mothers were evoked in recruitment propaganda to elicit sentiments of loyalty, responsibility, and protection. Mothers, like Anne, were expected to dutifully encourage their sons to enlist. In song and poetry created by soldiers, mothers were referenced in recollections of the comforts of home. Mothers themselves wrote poetry in protest of their sons being sacrificed in vain and in remembrance of their sons who never returned. For women like Susan who remained at home, following the war news and learning about geography allowed them to understand where their boys were, what they were doing, and why. Mothers played an important role in the lives of soldiers, and after the war the bond of mother and soldier were often emphasised in the memorialization of the war. As Jonathan Vance notes, mothers symbolized stability in turbulent times and were a connection to both the past and the future.

Guelph Evening Mercury_Cropped Headline.jpg

The Guelph Evening Mercury, Saturday 24 April, 1915. Archival and Special Collections, University of Guelph Library (XR2 MS A006).

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