The First World War


Tiger Lily. Tiger Lily.

In 1914, Saskatchewan citizens greeted the declaration of war with patriotic demonstrations and gave their support to the Allied cause. In addition to men for the armed forces, Saskatchewan's chief contribution to the war effort was probably in the production of food. During the war two significant social reforms took place. A measure of prohibition was adopted and women were given the vote. With the return of the veterans and their re - establishment, Saskatchewan turned to a peacetime economy and welcomed a royal visitor.


Regina Morning Leader, 5 August 1914.

Regina Morning Leader, 5 August, 1914.

I happened to have been with a great crowd on Hamilton Street when the Momentous news was flashed that war was declared against Germany that August 4th day in 1914. Pandemonium broke out, Union Jacks were unfurled and a parade started through the street with wild acclaim "Rule Brittania" and other martial songs were sung. One of the young men I afterwards recruited and examined for the Cameron Highlanders of Winnipeg carried the Union Jack as he sang and paraded. He was afraid the war would be over before he could get there. He did get there but did not get back.


Hugh MacLean, Autobiography

Will You go or Be Sent, Saskatchewan Herald, 19 August 1915.

Will You go or Be Sent,
Saskatchewan Herald, 19 August 1915.

In the first place it is unquestionably the duty, nay stronger, it is the emphatic duty of every able - bodied, unmarried man to enlist in the army unless prevented by some reason which he can conscientiously give. There are young men who are unmarried but who have responsibilities or obligations which can be given as reasons for not enlisting. But there are thousands of young fellows who only have excuses to offer for not enlisting, and excuses which are manufactured out of whole cloth and convince none but themselves . . . .
A soft snap at home, a best girl, a desire to let others fight your battles for you, these are excuses, and poor ones too, but they are not reasons. Let every unmarried man of able body in Canada ask himself "Am I prevented from enlisting by some reason which I can conscientiously give to my king, my country and myself" Then if the question be honestly asked and answered and the answer be in the negative then their duty is plain.

Saskatchewan Herald,
19 August 1915

The Twenty-seventh Light Horse under the command of Lieutenant - Colonel George Tuxford leaving Moose Jaw, 23 August 1914.

The Twenty-seventh Light Horse under the command of
Lieutenant - Colonel George Tuxford leaving
Moose Jaw, 23 August 1914.

Belgian Relief Fund drive, Regina, date unknown.

Belgian Relief Fund drive, Regina,
date unknown.

The Belgian Relief Fund was one of the many war and patriotic funds to which Saskatchewan citizens contributed during the First World War.
Boy Scouts supporting Victory Bond sales, Regina, 1918.

Boy Scouts supporting Victory Bond sales,
Regina, 1918.

Production and Thrift, Saskatchewan Farmer, April 1916.

"Production and Thrift," Saskatchewan Farmer, April 1916.

To meet the wartime need for grain to feed a war-ravaged Europe, advertisements such as this were used to obtain a rapid increase in production. Unfortunately, such advertisements encouraged the use of some unsound farming practices which may have affected later productivity.

From the Grain Growers Guide, 26 February 1913.

"From the Grain Growers Guide,
26 February 1913.

In western Canada, one of the social results of the war was the success of a movement for "moral" reform, which centered on the issues of women's suffrage and prohibition. Women in Saskatchewan won the right to vote only after a struggle. The first petition for the vote, signed by 2,500 women, was presented to the Legislature in December 1913. On that occasion Premier Walter Scott expressed the view that the women of Saskatchewan had not shown enough interest. A Provincial Equal Franchise League was organized, and it presented a petition containing 11,000 signatures. When that failed to bring a favourable response, the women organized to get another 10,000 signatures and presented another petition on 14 February 1916. This time they were successful.


From the Regina Morning Leader, 15 February 1916.

From the Regina Morning Leader,
15 February 1916.

Bar in the Windsor Hotel, Saskatoon, 1903.

Bar in the Windsor Hotel,
Saskatoon, 1903.

In response to temperance demands and partly as a war measure, bars in Saskatchewan were closed as of 1 July 1915. All bar and club licenses were abolished, and liquor was only available through government liquor stores for off-premises consumption. In 1917, the stores were closed, and liquor could only be bought in drugstores on prescription. Drinking elsewhere than in a private home was prohibited. Provision for the sale of beer by the glass in licensed premises was not made until 1935.


From the Grain Growers' Guide, 26 May 1915.

From the Grain Growers Guide,
26 May 1915.

The closing of the bars has resulted in untold good to many throughout the district. Business men, doctors, storekeepers and farmers all agree that it was a long step in the right direction. From a police point of view the decrease of petty crimes was soon noticeable, the change being most marked here in Moosejaw, [sic] where we handle all prisoners convicted and sentenced to jail. The number so handled during the past year has decreased 75 per cent.

J. A. McGibbon, Superintendent,
Royal North - West Mounted Police,
report, 1917

The War is won.

The war is won.

Parade of returned Veterans, Bigger 1919.

Parade of returned Veterans,
Bigger 1919.

Denied Access to the Land which He Bled to Defend, 6 March 1918.

"Denied Access to the Land which He Bled to Defend,"
6 March 1918..

The Soldier Settlement Act of 1917 made provision for veterans who wished to farm to draw loans of $2,500 for the purchase of livestock and equipment and to homestead under existing regulations. Applications for soldier entries exceeded expectations, and there were justifiable complaints that some of the lands which should have been available for returned soldiers were being held vacant by speculators. The Soldier Settlement Act of 1919 subsequently authorized that these lands be purchased by the Soldier Settlement Board and made available to veterans.



Grain Growers' Guide,
March 6, 1918

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at a stampede in Saskatoon, 11 September 1919.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
at a stampede in Saskatoon,
11 September 1919.

The visit of the Prince of Wales to Canada in 1919, symbolized a return to normal times following the war. The main purpose of the tour appears to have been to renew the bonds of empire. The Prince's visit to over fifty Canadian towns and cities endeared him to Canadians throughout the Dominion.


The crowning moment of the day came when he requested permission at the stampede to ride a bronco. When he climbed out of the royal pavilion to the back of the horse and rode up the track in front of the grandstand, the last bonds of restraint broke, and the entire gigantic attendance rose to their feet . . . his face fairly beamed, and another terrific burst of applause followed as he lined his horse up in the centre of a ring of cowboys and had his picture taken. That the Prince enjoyed this . . . was plain by his joyous smile.

Saskatoon Phoenix,
12 September 1919


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