First World War Honour Rolls

In the First World War, Canada experienced a publishing boom of memorial volumes, dubbed "Honour Rolls" or "Rolls of Honour," which sought to preserve the names and faces of those who died overseas. Today, these volumes are an essential resource for investigating the attitudes, behaviours, and rituals of a society experiencing bereavement and trauma on a mass scale. As valuable compilations of service information and expressions of collective mourning, these records are ideal subjects for scholarly investigation, family history, teaching, and personal reflection.

Honour rolls were selected for digitization and preservation as a record of Canadian cultural memory from an era that coped with loss in unprecedented ways, with the bereaved being deprived of the physical remains of loved ones buried overseas. Many volumes are prefaced with hagiographic tributes in which the work of mourning is transformed into a language of patriotism - the courage, sacrifice, duty, and religious mission of the dead imposing explicit social and political obligations on the living. As historians have noted, the "cult of the dead" that developed during the First World War would crystallize into a national mythology and would form a powerful component of Canadian identity after the war, notably in English Canada.

Honour Rolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Select titles

The following titles are a narrow cross-section of a vast body of commemorative books and pamphlets issued by virtually every Canadian city, parish, school, and professional organization whose members enlisted in the Canadian contingent in the First World War.

The War Book of Upper Canada College, Toronto (1923)

Overseas Record (Queen’s University, 1917?)

McGill Honour Roll, 1914-18 (c.1926)

Livre d'or des réservistes français du Canada (1924)

Roll of Honour (Winnipeg Electric Railway Company, 1917?)

"Roll of Honour" in Langley Dominion Day Festival (Langley, BC, 1917?)

The roll of honour of the Ontario teachers who served in the Great War, 1914-1918 (1922)

Record of service, 1914-1918 (University of British Columbia, 1924)

War Memorial of Huron County's Heroes and Heroines (1919?)

Roll of Honour (Corporation of Land Surveyors of the Province of British Columbia, 1919?)

Catholics of the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and the war, 1914-1919 (1920?)

Their Name Liveth: A Memoir of the Boys of Parkdale Collegiate Institute who Gave Their Lives in the Great War (1919?)

The Golden Book (Canadian Military Institute, 1927)

University of Toronto Roll of Service, 1914-1918 (1921) New!

Fighters for Freedom: Honor Roll of Halifax, the Great War, 1914-1919 (1919) New!

The Gold Stripe: A Tribute to the British Columbia Men who Have Been Killed, Crippled and Wounded in the Great War (1919) New!