The First World War (1914-18) is sometimes called The Great War because of the great number of countries involved and the great number of people killed.
When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, Canada was still part of the British Empire, and so was also automatically at war. At the time, most British Columbians (two thirds) came from Britain or were of British descent. Most of the 55,570 British Columbians who served in the war reflected this fact.
However, some of those who served for Canada came from other cultural backgrounds. First Nations volunteers came from dozens of small communities and reserves. Chinese, Japanese and Sikh communities contributed volunteers. In addition, young women also served (and died) as front-line nurses.
Watch the video montage Soldiers of the King. Being part of the British Empire meant being loyal to King George V (Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather). How many references to the King and to Britain do you notice?
What can you learn about the First World War from the Royal BC Museum collections?