Rallying Young Canada to the Cause: Anglophone Schoolchildren in Montreal and Toronto during the Two World Wars


  • Anne Millar University of Ottawa
  • Jeff Keshen University of Ottawa


History, Education, World Wars, First World War, Second World War, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec, Ontario, Canada, Anglophone, Schooling, Curriculum, Children, Youth, Culture


This article explores the impact of the First and Second World Wars on Anglophone public school students in Canada’s two largest cities, Montreal and Toronto. It examines the wartime roles, responsibilities, and attitudes of schoolchildren, and the ways the World Wars were presented in the classroom. Considerable symmetry characterized the patriotic messages conveyed to pupils and the activities of students, but also evident over time was a diminution of romanticism, a more balanced account and understanding of conflict, and the conviction that youth had a vital role to play in the forging of a strong and thriving democracy and in promoting international cooperation.

Author Biographies

Anne Millar, University of Ottawa

Anne Millar amill073@uottawa.ca is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at the University of Ottawa whose dissertation will analyze Canadian universities during the World Wars. Her research interests include the impact of war on society, the relationship of war and education, and women’s higher education.

Jeff Keshen, University of Ottawa

Jeff Keshen keshen@uottawa.ca is a Professor of History at the University of Ottawa, where he has taught since 1995. His research specializes in the Canadian home front during the World Wars. Among his works are Propaganda and Censorship in Canada’s Great War and Saints, Sinner and Soldiers: Canada’s Second World War. His most recent work is the two-volume co-authored text, Canada: A Narrative History published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson.