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CMJ collection

Artists conception of the building proposed by the Canadian War Memorials Committee to house the Canadian War Art generated by the First World War.

A Brief History Of Canadian Forces Military Museums From 1919 To 2004 – part 1

by Dr. Serge Bernier

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In 1914, existing within the remnants of the colonial status of the Dominion of Canada meant that the Dominion was at war when her mother country declared war. With over 600,000 volunteers or conscripts answering the call to arms during the Great War, of which more than 250,000 were sent overseas, Canada, with its population of eight million inhabitants at the start of the conflict, certainly did its share.

During the war, formal military history and military art programs were commenced in the country. An army historical section actually survived the war. The War Art program was revived during the Second World War, while naval and air historical sections were added to that of the army. While a military art program exists in the nation nowadays, it actually disappeared on two occasions after the Second World War. Today, a unified historical section within a larger directorate called History and Heritage, located at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, is alive and well. When this new directorate was created in the fall of 1996, it combined two previously separate directorates, namely those of History and Military Heritage, and Traditions. Within the latter, a small sub-section consisting of just one civilian staff officer existed – the museum section. Humble beginnings for what actually exists today. At any rate, how did this section come to exist? What was its role? Where is it heading in the 21st Century? To find answers to these questions, one has to go back to the last years of the First World War and the beginning of a strong affirmation of the Canadian identity.

The Interwar Years ~ 1918-1939

During the First World War, the idea of an Imperial War Museum was born in Great Britain. It was to be a memorial to the men and women who had fought in the British Imperial forces from 1914 to 1918. In parallel, a few of the colonies within the Empire, particularly Canada, sought, as acknowledgement of and a bill for their participation in that war, more autonomy from Britain. With respect to the proposed Imperial War Museum, Canada’s answer was to create its own memorials. As a result, only a few Canadian war trophies ended up in London, with most of them being sent to Canada. These trophies were collected by individuals or units on the battlefields and sent home to the Canadian Corps Salvage officer. They were then catalogued and addressed for distribution, if a specific destination for the trophy had been identified.

An Order-in-Council was issued on 11 December 1918 creating the Commission on War Records and Trophies at the request of the Minister of Militia and Defence. The purpose of the Commission was to prepare a report on the provision of suitable accommodation for these records and trophies, and to report on the policy to be adopted concerning the collection and distribution of a proportion of war trophies to the provinces, municipalities, educational institutions, and so on. The report was directed to the Governor-in-Council through the Secretary of State. This Commission included the Dominion Archivist as well as the Director of the Historical Section of the General Staff, a brigadier-general. In May 1919, another Order-in-Council enlarged the scope of the Commission by asking it to acquire and supervise the collection, acquisition, preservation, and care of all material suitable for a National War Memorial. It was also to hold commercial exhibitions of war pictures and trophies in order to collect funds to go towards the establishment of this memorial. In fact, the Order was very precise: these funds were to be directed to the Receiver General and into a special account created specifically for the National War Memorial.1 At that point in time, the Canadian government seemed ready to support the idea of a war memorial that would commemorate the great deeds its young soldiers had accomplished from the commencement until the end of the First World War – and even later, since one Canadian division would serve with the Allied occupation forces in Germany for a few months after November 1918. Other troops were involved in the Russian intervention between 1918 and 1920. This national war memorial idea would still linger in 1920, but, after 1921 and the concomitant change of government, it essentially disappeared from the Canadian political agenda for nearly 20 years.2

What then happened to the war trophies? Once declared the property of the people of Canada, many of them were simply distributed over the years across the length and breadth of the country. The War Trophies Commission received requests from various towns, universities and social clubs, and either accepted or refused them on an individual basis. A few rare exhibitions were organized by the Commission – in Toronto, for example – but these did not raise enough money to build the intended memorial.

Floor plan

CMJ collection

Interior view of proposed War Art Museum.

It was clear, by 1921, that Canadians in general and the veterans in particular had too many other important things on their minds, both collectively and individually, to transform into reality the concept of the National War Memorial. A commemorative void had thus been created. After the demobilization and the reorganization of the Canadian Forces – a process that lasted for about two years – specific military units started to collect artefacts and thus filled this void in their own piecemeal way. Some of these units were very involved, making individual requests to the Commission and receiving hundreds of artefacts over a period of time.

The Royal Military College of Canada [RMC] was one of the most significant players in this field, commencing in 1918.3 The arrival in 1919 as the College’s commandant of Major-General Sir Archibald Macdonell, who had served with great distinction in the trenches and later as a divisional commander, accelerated this tendency. In a letter to the Secretary of the Militia Council, he requested, “that some of the various War Trophies captired [sic] by the Canadian Corps may be dispatched to the Royal Military College, for disposal about the grounds and buildings. Oweing [sic] to the record of the ex-cadets, it would be only fitting and right that the College be allowed certain trophies.”4 He pointed out that some trophies had been turned in from the field to the War Trophies Commission addressed to RMC, but had not yet been received. The answer to Macdonell’s query soon came from Major Gustave Lanctôt, who worked at the Dominion Archives and served with the War Trophies Commission. His words were very similar to others one finds from the period in the files at the Archives. In short, in 1920, the Commission was waiting for governmental policy with respect to the distribution of War Trophies. Once that was established, the College “may be assured to receive the best treatment possible in view of the fine record of its students and the importance of its standing as a National Military College.”5

Macdonell’s predecessor as commandant had indicated, in 1918, that he wanted to establish a museum at RMC,6 and this was certainly Macdonell’s wish as well. In September 1922, a special army board met at RMC to look at the possibility of creating a museum in Fort Frederick, which was situated on the RMC grounds. The conclusion was positive.7 In January 1926, the Quartermaster General wrote the following to the RMC commandant: “It is the desire of National Defence Headquarters to make the museum at the Royal Military College the principal storehouse for military relics of all natures...”8 An inventory of RMC’s holdings, completed in February 1926, consisted of twelve pages of items, including hundreds of small arms, bayonets, scabbards, swords, lances, pistols, machine guns, grenades and bombs, clothing, trench stores, artillery ammunition, engineering models, and other miscellaneous articles. Many of these holdings were of the 1914-1918 vintage, and, obviously, many items had been captured from the Germans, particularly during 1918.


City of Toronto Archives, James Collection

In 1919, this war trophy German Junkers J.1 purpose-built trench strafing aircraft was placed on public display at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition.

While the Canadian government was avoiding any thought of building the type of shrine that Great Britain and the Dominion of Australia were erecting, the army at least appeared to have a concept in mind of what it wanted to do with some of the war trophies. This was not the case in the navy, and a truly indigenous air force would not exist until 1924. At any rate, the then-minuscule Canadian Air Force (CAF) had far more immediate and pressing problems with which to contend.

Most of the Canadians who volunteered to serve at sea during the First World War did so with the British Forces. As for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), which, during the war years, had been small to the point of near-irrelevancy, it had kept a few trophies here and there in its dockyards, but these mainly consisted of decommissioned RCN ships, or portions thereof. In the interwar period, there was no dedicated RCN museum. In 1920, half a German submarine was sent to Montreal to be placed on public display. This exhibition met with success, but after its closure, the German artefact was left on the floor of the huge Angus Company workshop. In November 1921, the Angus Shops wanted to get rid of it and so wrote to the Canadian naval authorities. Their answer was unequivocal. “We are not interested, please destroy.”9 Attitudes within the fledgling air force would closely approximate those of the navy.

Meanwhile, the War Trophies Commission was still alive after a fashion, and it possessed thousands of small and large trophies, stored in a number of locations in Ottawa. However, much of the material was in the same condition as when it had been received from the battlefields. Indeed, some of the weapons were still loaded, and they had caused some accidents over the years. By April 1935, only one of the original members of the Commission remained. On 15 April, a new Order-in-Council was issued. It stated that “the Ministers are of the opinion that the time [had] now come when adequate provision should be made for the proper accommodation, cataloguing and care of those trophies which it is considered should be retained for Museum purposes.”10 Steps were to be taken for the disposal of all other trophies and material. The collection thus officially created was temporarily established as a component part of the Dominion Archives in existing accommodations. Eventually, an indigenous war museum was to be created, or the trophies would be absorbed by the national museum. A Board of the War Museum was also created by this Order, chaired by the Dominion Archivist, with specific representation from the navy, the army and the air force. The Board had to select the items for the museum and dispose of the rest by providing them to the military for instructional purposes. Still later in 1935, the Board was given permission to employ its own clerical personnel, and to hire or contract other assistants as required. These clerks were to be paid by the Department of National Defence.11 Three years later, the work of the Board had progressed well, but there still did not exist a suitable home for the trophies. It was then formally decided to keep them in the Annex to the Archives Building, where many of them were already stockpiled. In fact, this Annex was already becoming known by many as the Trophy Building. It was slowly being reconditioned to serve as a better presentation venue when the Second World War began.12

Thus, in 1939, Canada had no official war museum, but it did have a Board that advised and assisted the Dominion Archivist, on either technical or historical issues pertaining to the museum material then available, or upon that which might be acquired in future from time to time. The ‘nuts and bolts’ technical elements of the mandate were handed over to the DND members of the Board. The Trophy Building was very small – roughly 600 square metres – located next to the Archives building, and it was not open to the public. However, by the end of 1938, the government had admitted that a proper Canadian war museum ought to exist.

The Second World War and the Cold War until 1972

While the Second World War was in progress, the concept of a national military museum for Canada was very low on the political horizon in Ottawa. However, the National Military Museum Board13 – the new name for the War Museum Board – which had been created in 1938, decided to open the Trophy Building to the public on 19 January 1942. That year, the Board also changed its name to the National War Museum Board, where the military members became the main players while DND was still paying the salaries of the museum’s staff. No official ceremony was held, and the announcement of the 1942 opening only appeared in each of the three Ottawa newspapers. In 1942, the museum attracted 24,395 visitors. However, with each successive year, this number increased. In 1947, more than 84,000 people would visit the museum.

By March 1943, the Second World War had been raging for almost four years. Canada had been formally committed to participation as of 10 September 1939, and in 1943, victory was a near-certainty, albeit, still far away. That year, the National War Museum Board asked DND for trophies to be collected from the existing conflict. Each of the three services was expected to provide one member of its historical section to the Board, which was looking for such things as trophies, archives, films, documents, Canadian War production figures, and so on.14 Military historians in the field already had, as part of their mandate, a requirement to collect museum material and to send it back to Canada. In other words, the Board, closely linked to DND, was expecting all numbers and sorts of additional artefacts, including aircraft, tanks, artillery pieces and guns, while the Trophy Building barely had the capacity to store the various First World War artefacts. This adverse and deteriorating situation was lending additional pressure to build a dedicated war museum. In 1945, Air Vice-Marshal A.L. James, RCAF representative on the Board, made a proposition for such a new war museum to replace the inadequate facility then in use. The Board’s answer was to ask the three services to submit proposals from which a joint plan could be prepared, and, accordingly, on 15 November 1946, one consolidated plan was submitted to the Board by James. It had been supervised and partially prepared by the Air Historian, Fred H. Hitchins. This gentleman, most probably after consultation with his navy and army colleagues, proposed the construction of what he called a National Defence Archives Building where military archives, historians and trophies would be assembled all together in a fireproof and air-conditioned building in central Ottawa. The Board was to continue its life as a policy control organization. The dedicated building would be managed by civilians, and the three historical sections, also staffed mainly by civilians, would be lodged together for better cooperation and efficiency.15

However good the idea was, it came at the worst possible moment. Demobilization of the wartime services was now on the menu, and it included dismemberment of the three historical sections. In the final analysis, the army section was salvaged, while one or two historians were retained by both the navy and air force, mostly in a public relations role. However, the plans for a dedicated facility remained in being, albeit as plans only, and all the Minister of National Defence could provide by way of direct, tangible assistance to the War Museum was to place a small services exhibit of approximately 35 square metres near the entrance of the NDHQ Building.16

By 1947, the Trophy Building was considered hopelessly inadequate to display the burgeoning array of trophies collected from the two world wars. While the Trophy Building had been augmented with a storehouse, a workshop and the minuscule exhibit in the lobby of the National Defence Headquarters, war materiel was spread out all over Canada and could not be properly housed in any centralized location. But, from 1942 to 1947, in spite of insufficient accommodation and the fact that the War Museum was merely, for all intents and purposes, a local military museum,17 there seemed to be public enthusiasm and support for this institution. More than 325,000 people had visited it during the five years following its opening. In fact, in 1949, the Air Historian wrote that Canadians “would greet government decision to provide adequate space to house, not only the present collection now in the museum but all war trophies... stored at different places throughout the country.”18

No one had yet made the final decision as to who should hold overall responsibility for the War Museum. Split loyalty seldom works, and a virtual division of War Museum responsibilities between the Department of National Defence and the office of the Secretary of State, for whom the National Archivist was employed, was leading nowhere. In the fall of 1948, the Secretary of State wrote to the Minister of National Defence that he felt the Canadian War Museum should fall under the MND’s jurisdiction. After all, DND was paying for it and it had “little connection with the Archives...”19 However, at the Defence Council [DC] meeting held on 23 December 1948, Air Vice-Marshal James, still representing the RCAF on the Board, made a strong plea in favour of the Museum being kept under the Secretary of State’s aegis. His case, as presented by the Chief of Air Staff, was well prepared, referring back to the creation of the Commission on War Records and Trophies in December 1918. This Commission, as we will remember, was to report to the Governor-in-Council through the Secretary of State. However, James’s aide-memoire recommended that a true war museum “of [the] character and size envisaged would serve... as a great national shrine and memorial commemorating in a peculiarly fitting manner the united contribution of all Canadian citizens... in defence of national liberty.”20 The Defence Council accepted James’s view – which was that the public wanted to view the latest material of wars and war trophies, and the museum should be under the Secretary of State and housed in a more suitable building. In any case, since the government was proposing to review the whole question of national museums, no action was to be taken to transfer the Board to DND until this review had been completed.21


RMC collection

Lieutenant-General Sir Archibald Cameron Macdonell, Commandant of RMC from 1919 to 1925.

In April 1949, the Canadian government set up the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences. Along with other mandates, the Commission was to provide considered judgments on the work of the National Museum and the Public Archives. In May 1951, it submitted its report, recommending the upholding and the strengthening of many of the cultural organizations already in existence, including the National Museum. This very important report on Canadian cultural life was to lead to a whole array of changes throughout the coming years, including the construction of a new building for the National Archives. The Commission recognized that the War Museum remained in inadequate temporary quarters and that some of its collections were scattered and inadequately displayed. One of its recommendations was the establishment of a Canadian Historical Museum that would trump the maintenance of an indigenous Canadian War Museum.22

However, the relations between DND and the Military Museum Board would remain much as they had been since 1935 for another few years. On 1 April 1958, the Canadian War Museum was transferred to the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, then, in 1964, back to the Secretary of State. From 1958 onwards, DND ceased paying the salaries of the Canadian War Museum staff.23 The Board still included representatives from the three services, but that representation had progressively diminished from a brigadier’s level, to that of a colonel, and, in 1964, to one historian from each of the three services at the lieutenant-colonel level. Meanwhile, the museum was still in inadequate quarters. It had actually moved to the old adjacent Archives building once the Archives had been relocated in a more suitable facility in Ottawa, but the old Archives building was too small and was never intended to serve as a museum. A certain indifference on the part of successive Canadian governments was obvious in these various moves. Of course, everything had to be created in the post-1945 Canada that was slowly coming of age, both internally and externally, but was possessed of many diverse economic and social challenges. Only in 2004 would construction finally commence on a purpose-built Canadian War Museum.

However, to return to the 1950s, after Defence Council had said no to the acceptance of the Canadian War Museum within the Department of National Defence, certain relations were still maintained with the museum’s overseers. In addition to the previously-mentioned contributions, DND provided certain additional storage space for war equipment, and also helped bear the cost of shipping new artefacts.24 However, the fact that the national museum still possessed a lot of serious shortcomings might explain in part why two of the three armed services started to accentuate the roles and importance of their own individual service museums.

In 1944, the Imperial War Museum asked the RCN to provide trophies to complete an exhibition it was preparing for after the war. The Canadian Naval Board answered that in the case of such trophies, the National War Museum Board would have the first priority. Once that mandate had been fulfilled, the Imperial War Museum could select some of the remaining artefacts. However, the Naval Board also decided to form a committee to organize and control the distribution of all RCN war trophies, insignia, and so on.25


CMJ collection

Exterior view of Fort Frederick on the RMC campus.

Four years later, the Maritime Museum of Canada, which occupied leased space on DND property, was founded in Halifax by a group of naval officers and civilians. The ranking admiral on the east coast became the president of the Society in charge of this museum,26 which was then located in the Citadel. Nowadays, it is in the naval dockyards in the former residence of the British admiral who had been in charge of the Canadian eastern maritime region and the West Indies, up until 1910. Its aim was to assemble and properly preserve in one location, relics, documents and pictures associated with the maritime history of Canada; to enable officers and men of the navy and the mercantile services to become better acquainted with the maritime history of Canada and, thus, to increase pride in their service and its traditions; and to provide the public with a museum that depicts the historical relationship of Canada with the naval and merchant services, thus creating a greater awareness of sea power as it affects the security of the nation. The museum was managed by a board supported by an advisory committee, both of which had extensive military representation.27 On 18 April 1955, the RCN officially opened its second museum in Esquimalt on the west coast. The Esquimalt facility possessed the same aims as its Halifax counterpart, and added an article stating that it would cooperate with the east coast Museum.28 The navy had been slow to start its own museums, but when it finally did, it was on the right track. Both maritime museums were situated on DND property, both had a very clear and sensible mandate and they were working productively and in partnership.

With respect to the army, from 1946 to 1964, various unit museums proliferated. The 1945-1946 post-war demobilization had temporarily reduced the manning level of the Canadian Forces to less than 50,000 serving members – still many more personnel than before the First World War, around 3000 overall, or during the inter-war period, which retained less than 8000 serving members in 1939. But the Korean UN operations and increased NATO involvement had gradually brought the number of enrolled personnel up to around 120,000 men and women by 1960. The increase in manning levels during these years tangentially provided more opportunities for the forces to get organized on the question of the museums.

Thus, from 1946 to 1964, the army opened many museums. However, the hopes placed upon development of the RMC Museum after the First World War did not materialize, and their small collection remained stillborn for many years. In fact, today we would classify this first version of the RMC Museum as a mere historical collection.

Eventually, an ex-cadet named Walter Douglas purchased the collection of arms of the late General Profirio Diaz, who was, for many years, President of Mexico. The general loved firearms and had been presented with many as gifts during his tenure as president. Douglas formally presented the 430-piece collection to his alma mater in 1938. These firearms covered a complete range from the earliest flintlocks to the breech-loaders of the 20th Century, although most of them had little to do with RMC’s history. And such was the initial apathy demonstrated towards this collection that, in 1946, the packing cases left by Douglas seven years earlier had not yet been opened.

In July of that year, the College authorities decided to close what amounted to Major-General Archie Macdonell’s museum. The general, some 24 years earlier, had merely gathered the trophies he had addressed to RMC from the battlefields, to which he had added a few items culled and assembled from different places and sources. Thus, by 1946, the museum’s articles had merely been ticketed, given a serial number, and included in one of the following five categories: a) to be retained in the fort as part of equipment; b) to be removed and kept in the educational building until the question of a museum at the College was decided; c) to be returned to their donor; d) to be offered to other museums, since they were either duplicates or items of no interest to the College; and finally, e) to be destroyed as worthless.

In 1960, the idea of reopening the museum resurfaced and Douglas’s cases were finally opened, along with others containing the material that had been set aside in 1946. However, many artefacts had been given to other military museums, including those contained in Fort Henry, a 19th Century citadel overlooking the RMC grounds. The new RMC Museum opened on 25 June 1962 at its present location in the Martello Tower at Fort Frederick. Its declared aims were, and remain, to tell the stories of RMC and Fort Frederick and to display the Douglas arms collection and other College artefacts.

The specific case surrounding the RMC Museum in 1962 was a clear example of how the army had started to establish a certain control and protocol over its museums. After the Second World War, and considering the absence of a true national war museum, many types of museums had been created within the army, but, for many years, they lacked standardized rules for their governance. Finally, in 1957, the army published a specific order entitled Military Museums. It presented the parameters within which corps or unit army museums could be created, and then described when and how these museums could access equipment or war trophies.29 Virtually immediately thereafter, many army museums started to be officially recognized.30

Somewhat ironically, by 1965 the most important of these facilities was the army museum located within the Citadel in the port of Halifax. It had also been started after the First World War, but it had fared much better than RMC’s facility. The Halifax Citadel included the Canadian Army Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Nova Scotia Provincial Museum. The Citadel, and, thus, all the museums located within its walls, was, in 1961, the most visited of all museums in Canada, having drawn 193,000 visitors. Unfortunately, the old Citadel was not a place where heavy equipment could be displayed. This limitation having been recognized by the army, the museum could generally only obtain obsolete items of uniforms and insignia formerly worn by members of the Canadian Army. In terms of ownership, the General Officer Commanding Eastern Command was the Chairman of its Board of Governors.31

That said, the Halifax museum had, by 1961, a wider and a much better-defined mission than the RMC facility possessed the following year. It was mandated to collect, preserve and display items of army interest, to conduct and encourage research in the military history of the area, and to foster public interest in the province of Nova Scotia and in Canadian Military History in general – and the particular place of the Halifax Citadel in that history. It was also established to enable personnel of the Canadian Army to become better acquainted with colonial and Canadian military history and the equipment used by their predecessors, so that they could take an increased pride in their service and its traditions.32

The preceding examples of the Maritime, RMC and Canadian Army Museums are demonstrations that an element of professionalism was permeating the Canadian military museums after the Second World War. Furthermore, they constituted acknowledgement and recognition by the three services that a national military museum was not going to be established in the near future, and that DND was not ready to take charge of such a cumbersome facility. In fact, DND was encouraging the creation of smaller museums, located in buildings not in use on existing military facilities, strongly supported by the parent services, but cheap to establish and to maintain in an overall sense. One important advantage of this system evolving slowly was the fact that Canadian military artefacts were thus spread across the country, making exposure to them available to a much broader section of Canadian society. Moreover, each of these museums would be able to place its own “story” within a local and regional historical context.

However, what of parallel museum initiatives within the junior service, the air force? Dr. Bernier concludes his brief history of Canadian Forces Military Museums up to the present in the next issue of the Canadian Military Journal.



RMC collection

A collection of military artifacts on display at RMC in the 1920s. Rather than offer a systematic interpretation of objects within their historic context, early military museums, more often then not, merely resembled a display of trophies.

CMJ Logo

Dr. Bernier is Director of History and Heritage at National Defence Headquarters.


  1. National Archives of Canada (NAC), RG24, National Defence, Series E-1-c, Vol. 17664, File 045-6, Historical Information – Museums, Vol. 1, PC 3043, dated 11 Dec 1918 and PC 939, dated 5 May 1919.
  2. Ibid., Series G-20-1. Box 1, File RMC 6-11-2 (1918-1922), where one finds a newspaper article dated 6 Feb 1920 that speaks of a Monumental Museum to be built in Ottawa, “to honour our dead. It will house the war trophies belonging to the Canadian Forces.” The Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Architecture Society of Canada, the Royal Canadian Academy and the Town Planning Institute had held a meeting on the question on 5 Feb 1920. The article even spoke about how the architects would be chosen by a National Memorial Commission upon which members of the Great War Veterans’ Association would sit. The choice of an architect for the Canadian War Museum would be made some 80 years later. For more information concerning the enthusiasm existing at the time for such a project, see articles published in the Journal of the Organization of Military Museums of Canada, Vol. VII, 1978-79: R.F. Wodehouse, «Lord Beaverbrook’s Plan for a suitable Building to house the Canadian War Memorials» pp. 4-8; Donald E. Graves, «The Proposed Saskatchewan War Memorial Museum, 1919-1926», pp 9-22. In both these articles, photos of elaborated plans are published.
  3. Ibid., Col. C.N. Perreau, RMC’s Commandant, to General Hoare, (RAF), dated 16 Dec 1918, wants “to obtain the propeller of a plane as a memoria of the many cadets we have sent to the RAF” Three aircraft had been offered by the town of Toronto to the RAF in 1917. They were never used, however, and at the end of the war, neither the RAF nor the City of Toronto wanted to keep them. The aircraft were going to be dismantled when Perreau asked to salvage one particular fragment.
  4. Ibid., File 6-11-2 (1919-1922), Major- General Macdonell to Secretary Militia Council, dated 30 Sep 1919.
  5. Ibid., Lanctôt to Macdonell, dated 5 Mar 1920.
  6. Ibid., Colonel C.N. Perreau to F.X.L. Wanklyn, dated 3 Dec 1918.
  7. Ibid., File 6-1-52 (1922-1946). The members of the Board were serious. They mentioned in their report the repairs that needed to be done to the building that would house the museum, as well as the security and fire prevention measures that needed to be taken.
  8. Ibid., Major-General E.C. Ashton to Colonel C.F. Constantine, dated 11 Jan 1926. See also, another letter to Constantine from NDHQ, dated 10 Dec 1925, where it is mentioned that NDHQ thinks that “there is no other place in Canada to which old military [artefacts] can be sent where they would be of as much value and where they would be sure to be looked after.”
  9. Ibid., Series D-13, Vol. 11285, File 5590, NS 10-50-1 Nov. 1921, Angus Shops to Naval HQ. – Dec 21: answer.
  10. Ibid., Series E-1-C, Vol. 17664, File 045-6, Vol. 1.
  11. Ibid., See Amendment to Privy Council 1001, 15 Apr 1935, dated 19 Dec 1935.
  12. Ibid., P.C. 3070, dated 7 Dec 1938.
  13. It is astonishing that the term Military Museum did not survive the period 1938-1942. After all, what is now called the Canadian War Museum is, in fact, the Canadian Military History Museum. Its exhibits underline the military history of our country, thus covering the period of non-wars, which fortunately were much longer than the war years. Moreover, the literal translation from English to French of Canadian War Museum makes no sense.
  14. Ibid., See letter from Board to the Defence Council (DC), dated 17 Mar 1943, and the positive answer by DC, dated 24 Mar 1943.
  15. Ibid., See Hitchins to James, dated 26 Nov 1945, and Minutes of the 11th Meeting of the Canadian War Museum Board, held on 15 Nov 1946. Plans for this building can also be found in this file.
  16. Ibid., See Minute of the Defence Council, dated 7 Mar 1947.
  17. L.F. Murray, Secretary of the Canadian War Museum, in 1964 wrote to Wing Commander R.V. Manning that a war museum was first established in Ottawa in 1880. It collected specimens and records of Canada’s military history. It was, however, closed in 1896, due to lack of proper accommodation. The specimens were packed and stored. They were re-displayed during the “reopening” in 1942. Ibid., File 045-6, Vol. 4. Up to a point, the Trophy Building, in 1947, was a larger repetition of this 19th Century local militia unit’s exercise in museology. In 1970, Murray had a short history of the Canadian War Museum written. [See in the Document Collection of the CWM, Maria Thompson, A History of the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, 1976, 26 pages plus annexes. The first two pages of this unpublished manuscript speak about this 19th Century museum that subsequently disappeared, leaving behind more hearsay than tangible records. The author tried, without much success, as she admits, to tie this short museum episode to the 1960s CWM.] At best, the Militia General Order No. 3, dated 5 Nov 1880, which established a Militia Museum in the Drill Hall at Headquarters, in Ottawa, was relating to the Militia of the Dominion of Canada, and was thus a type of museum such as the one the army tried to recreate at RMC after 1918.
  18. Ibid., File 045-6, Vol. 2, pp. 2-3 of Memo by F.H. Hitchins to Air Vice-Marshal A.L. James, dated Feb 1949.
  19. Ibid., File 045-6, Vol. 1, Colin Gibson to the MND, Brooke Claxton, dated 22 Nov 1948.
  20. Ibid., p. 3 of aide-memoire, dated 23 Dec 1948 and submitted to the 35th DC meeting on the same date.
  21. Ibid., Minutes of Defence Council No. 35, dated 23 Dec 1948. The idea of putting the CWM under DND would reappear many times, including during recent years. The answers, albeit different in their form, would always be the same as far as substance was concerned: Defence was not interested in acquiring such a building. For example, in 1961, an architect from the Montreal region proposed that DND build an Armed Forces Museum. The Acting Minister’s answer, dated 8 Feb 1961, said that the CWM was already acting for the three services. [Ibid., File 045-6, Vol. 2]
  22. Report – Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences, 1949-1951, Chapter XX, pp. 319, 323 and 324.
  23. Ibid., File 045-6, Vol. 4. See R.S. Sutherland’s Memo to DND Deputy Minister, in 1964, where in the chronology of the changes is presented.
  24. Ibid., File 045-6, Vol. 2. A/U/M James to AMTS, dated 22 Mar 1950.
  25. Ibid., Vol. 5590, NS 10-50-1, Naval Board decision at its 11 Jan 1944 meeting.
  26. Ibid., Vol. 290-12 to 315-21/0, File DRB-300-1. Chairman of DRB to Minister, dated 5 Apr 1966.
  27. Ibid., Vol. 11285, NUKC 1442-1. See Vol. 1 for a copy of the constitution of the Maritime Museum as it existed in 1953.
  28. Ibid., Little to Brock, dated 22 Apr 1955.
  29. Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH), NDHQ, Canadian Army Order (CAO) 297-2, issued 25 Mar 1957, superseded by CAO 143-8, issued 23 Jan 1961, amended 10 Jul 1961 and 25 May 1964.
  30. By 1963, there were 13 army museums in Canada, one of the most highly organized being that of the R22eR (the Vandoos) in Quebec City, according to an RCAF officer who was in charge of trying to organize an indigenous RCAF museum at the time. (see F/L C.H. Nason’s Memo dated October 1964 in NAC, National Defence, Series E-1-C, Vol. 17664, File 045-6, Vol. 4) Among them was an Ordnance Corps Museum in Montreal, an artillery facility in Shilo, Manitoba, a Medical Corps Museum in Camp Borden, Ontario, and a Signal Corps Museum in Kingston, Ontario.
  31. Ibid., Series C-23-2, Vol. 22335, File EC-1615-1, Vol. 2. Memorandum: Military Museums in Eastern Command, dated 6 Sep 1961.
  32. Ibid., FC-1615-H15/10, Vol. 5, document dated 23 Nov 1965.