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Trench Art and Other Canadian War-related Craft

In the tedium of their time spent at rest, soldiers often occupied themselves by fashioning objects from available materials. This exhibition will look at these extraordinary objects of applied art and crafted items and the lived experiences which brought them into being.

These souvenir objects were made by Canadian soldiers during deployments from the Boer War to the present day.  The exhibition will describe the many circumstances which inspired soldiers to make such incredible items.

The continued care and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers also included the making of crafts. There were craft rooms or “curative workshops” and programs in many Canadian hospitals. This early form of occupational therapy often blurred into vocational training. Through teaching disabled soldiers a marketable craft, the hope was they would find a means of livelihood.

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The original text for the printed publication of this exhibition was written by Heather Smith and reinterpreted for the Virtual Museum of Canada by Ross Melanson.