The Home Front

This theme contains four case studies on the effects of war at home, both in preparing for it to happen and the all too real experience of coping with life while war was occurring. War preparation is highlighted in two British collections: the archives of Adrian Grant Duff show his government's methodical preparation for the First World War and the records of the City of London Engineer's Office reveal the advance procedures in place for dealing with air raids. With the First World War having become a reality, the Crombie archives demonstrate its far flung repercussions on a particular rural Ontario family. The case study entitled Racial Discrimination and Internment reveals the shameful overreaction of the Canadian government against its own citizens on "the Home Front" and the efforts of the committee formed to assist Canadians of Japanese descent.

In addition to the case studies discussed within this theme, there are others which are closely related to it. A case study entitled Socks for the Boys: Marion Simpson and the Knitters of the First World War can be found in the theme The Hamilton Connection as well as another entitled Support and Substitution”: Women’s Roles during World War I in the theme Women and War. In addition, the themes The Soldier’s Life and The Soldier Artist and Poet contain insights into the Home Front as illuminated by the interplay between families at home and their family members in military service.

Several posters included in the theme Representing War: propaganda, posters, pamphlets, publicity, music, artwork and memorials concern the home front. The Canadian Government's Nutrition Services issued a series of leaflets: their guide to a healthy breakfast appears here.

London Prepares for War: The City Engineer’s Office in World War II

By 1936, the City Engineer’s Office for the City of Westminster, London, England, had been directed by the Home Secretary to identify potential shelters in case of war for all the resident population, as well as for employees in Westminster, shoppers and retail outlets. By 1938, the staff members of the City Engineer’s Office were going from house to house, and business to business on every street and back alley of the city, assessing the area, strength of basements, suitability for shelter, and potential capacity, of each of the underground spaces visited.

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Racial Discrimination and Internment: The Cooperative Committee on Japanese Canadians

Although the surprise attack by the Japanese on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 had a direct impact in terms of lives lost and in convincing the United States to declare war, there were far-reaching consequences for people of Japanese ethnic descent living in North America. Japanophobia reached a crescendo shortly thereafter with the expulsion of Canadians and Americans of Japanese heritage from their homes and their relocation in internment camps.

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Adrian Grant Duff: Preparing for the First World War

Adrian Grant Duff (1869-1914) was born into a noble family in Britain. Educated at Wellington College and Sandhurst, Grant Duff trained to be a professional soldier and his values and ethics reflected those of the armed service. He joined the Scottish Black Watch in 1893 achieving notable success which culminated in a command position.

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The Home Front in Rural Ontario: The Crombie Family Archives

In 1911, just a few years prior to the outbreak of World War I, Edward Rubidge Crombie settled on Gilston Farm near Paris, Ontario. A former banker, Edward uprooted his young family and left the hustle and bustle of the city to seek a quieter and more satisfying life on the farm.

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