Send-offs During Canada's Great War: Interpreting Hometown Rituals in Dispatching Home Front Volunteers
AbstractIn August 1914 and during subsequent mobilizations of volunteers for Canada’s overseas forces, local civilian supporters and recruits joined their regiments in staging organized send-off rallies, dinners, and dances, as well as more informal, but often crowded, departures at the local railway station. Evidence from Lethbridge, Guelph, and Trois-Rivières suggests that precise local circumstances in these cities combined with national discourses to determine how new recruits and civilians experienced their parting as a public event, marked by ritual, ceremony, and implied meanings. Local circumstances remained more significant than national bureaucratic procedures, although this balance would shift with subsequent conflicts. Local settings and communities shaped the displays of armed mobilization that served as key links between Canada’s civilian home front and the war overseas.