Military history

These collections contain items ranging from illustrations and photos to personal memoirs of veterans, both written and recorded. Most of the material relates to the First and Second World Wars.

representative photo of a veteran
Canadian soldiers before the Battle for Antwerp

Canadian Military Oral History Collection

Digital audio files and transcripts from the University of Victoria Special Collections Canadian Military Oral History Collection. The collection is composed of interviews of veterans of WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the War in Afghanistan. Over 370 recordings done by Dr. Reginald H. Roy and his students are the largest holding in this category. Historian Hal Lawrence also donated over 180 recordings that he collected of Canadian Naval personnel.

caricature of army officers
Caricature of army officers

JM's World War One Sketchbooks

These images are from two World War One sketchbooks signed only "J.M." containing watercolour and pen and ink images. J.M. was a British soldier based in France and Belgium between 1917 and 1918. The sketches range from caricatures to sombre images suggesting the horror and carnage experienced by those at the Front.

George R Pearkes, thumbnail
Portrait of George R. Pearkes

Pearkes Collection, 1888-1984

The life of The Right Honourable George R. Pearkes V.C. (1888-1984) is illustrated from the Pearkes collection of photographs, interviews, maps, and war diaries.

Pearkes was an acclaimed military leader in both world wars who later went on to become Minister of Defence in Diefenbaker's cabinet, and Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. Completed as part of the Schoolnet Digital Collections program.

portion of a letter and drawing
Detail of a letter and drawing

Sir William Orpen Illustrated Letters

William Orpen was a renowned portrait painter and First World War artist. He was prolific, leaving a legacy of portraiture and painting that includes politicians Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson, fellow artists such as Augustus John, and historical events such as the Versailles Peace Treaty.

Major Smyth photo
Portrait of Major Smyth

Smyth's Account of the End of World War I and the Armistice

Transcript of Major Charles McDowall Smyth's account of the end of the First World War, including his triumphant entry into Mons [Belgium] on November 11, 1918 -- le jour de l'Armistice.

Also includes a description of Major Smyth's honours and medals.

Victoria to Vimy
Victoria to Vimy

Victoria to Vimy: The First World War Collections at the University of Victoria Libraries

Victoria to Vimy, sponsored by a World War Commemorations Community Fund grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage, is a digital collection of First World War materials held at the University of Victoria Libraries.  For this exhibit, the University of Victoria Libraries has selected a range of archival and historical items from our Special Collections and University Archives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada that provide diverse perspectives on the lives of ordinary Canadians during the First World War.

Brigadier General W.O.H. Dodds
Brigadier General W.O.H. Dodds

W.O.H. Dodds World War One Photographs and Scrapbook

Photographs and a scrapbook relating to the life and service of Brigadier General W.O.H. Dodds, CMG, DSO, in the Great War of 1914-1918 and extending to his death on 25 August 1934. Brigadier General Dodds joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914 and was commanding officer of the 5th Canadian Division Artillery and served in France from 1917-1918.

details from The World of Mary's Wedding
Detail from The World of Mary's Wedding

World of Mary's Wedding: Reminiscences of World War One

In 2008, Pacific Opera Victoria commissioned an opera from the play, Mary's Wedding. The opera made its world premiere in Victoria on November 10, 2011.

This collection consists of materials drawn from the extensive military history collections in Special Collections and University Archives and used in the exhibit and the accompanying website.           

Archie Wills, portrait, thumbnail.
Portrait of Archie Wills

World War One Photographs and Journals

Photographs and journals selected primarily from the Archie Wills fonds.

Archie Wills (1892-1988) was born in Victoria, BC, served with the Canadian Forces Artillery in France during the First World War, and worked as a journalist for the Victoria Times and Daily Colonist newspapers both before and after his service.

1914 image of soldier leaving for service
1914 image of soldier leaving for service

World War One Photographs by J. A. Millar

This album of photographs, taken by J. A. Millar, contains scenes of the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Valcartier Camp, at Quebec, and at Gaspe Harbour immediately prior to sailing to Britain in 1914. Millar was a staff photographer of the Montreal Daily Star and produced the album in 1915.