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Recruitment During the First World War

  • Military History
  • Secondary – Senior

This lesson plan was created by members of Historica Canada’s teacher community. Historica Canada does not take responsibility for the accuracy or availability of any links herein, and the views reflected in these learning tools may not necessary reflect those of Historica Canada. We welcome feedback regarding the content that may be linked to or included in these learning tools; email us at


The students will be presented this assignment as one option in their First World War research project. This assignment is designed to appeal to the students in the class who are visually minded. They will research primary documents that are, for the most part, in picture form. They will use text only to reinforce the information they get from the pictures and to review material already covered. At this point, students should have a basic understanding of Canada’s role in the First World War along with some of the issues and accomplishments of the military in Canada during the First World War. Other students will be researching other details from the First World War (such as a battle, the music, woman’s role) for presentation to the class. 


1. Students to learn more about the First World War and Canada’s recruitment strategy.

2. Students build skills in undertaking primary research.

3. Students given the opportunity to express their research in a visual format and practice their presentation skills.


It is 1916. Canada’s Armed forces are in desperate need of more men and women. Prime Minister Borden is trying to avoid conscription and has ordered an intense recruitment campaign. As part of this campaign, you have been hired by the Canadian Armed Forces to develop an advertising poster to be launched. Your recruitment ads will be printed on full coloured posters and posted in every town across Canada, both small and large. 

Extension: Specific communities can be chosen as the target for the recruitment posters.


Time Allowance:
6 classes; Class 1: researching primary and secondary resources; Class 2: choosing themes and creating a draft of poster; Classes 3,4,5 - creation of poster; Class 6 - present posters to the class



a. Research Primary and Secondary documents, such as other recruitment posters from the First World War. Identify the major themes and symbols used in the posters. Look for details you could use in your poster. For example: uniform style, types of planes, medals, background.

b. Establish an audience: who are you trying to recruit with the poster? Young men or women? For what section of the armed forces are you recruiting? Identify this focus of your cover sheet.

c. Create a coloured poster that reflects the period for your focus. The poster should be presented on a bristol board.

d. Your poster should include a theme and symbols appropriate to Canada in 1916.


a. Primary resources: recruitment posters from WWI and photographs taken during WWI

b. Secondary resources: history textbook


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Supporting documents for this Learning Tool