Oakville Images

  The support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Culture, is acknowledged.

This online exhibition is a digital rendition and extension of the original 1999 exhibition, Shadows of War: Not So Long Ago in the 20th Century, created by the Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate. We hope you enjoy it.

Every Remembrance Day, Oakville pays homage to those who fought under the shadows of war. Servicemen and women gather at the cenotaph at George’s Square, remembering those they fought with, those who came home, and those who did not.

For those who were not alive during the time of war, it is difficult to imagine what it was like. Yet, in the first half of the twentieth century, there was scarcely a family in Canada who remained untouched by the darkness brought by two world wars.
More than 600,000 Canadians served overseas in the First World War and over 65,000 gave their lives. The number of Canadians who served in the Second World War surpassed 1,000,000 and approximately 45,000 gave their lives. Countless others worked at home and abroad to support the war effort.

The experience of war - it’s camaraderie, excitement, sorrow, and devastation - cannot be felt by those who were not there. But it can be shared. In 1999, the last year of the 20th century, the Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate asked the citizens of Oakville to donate digital reproductions of their war photographs and artifacts to its Shadows of War exhibit. Many war veterans - those who grew up in Oakville and those who moved to the community later - shared their images and memories. Other contributors - not war veterans - brought images that honoured their family or friends, some of whom had died in the wars.

Every picture donated to that exhibition is a story in itself, and each of those stories contributes to the diverse and bewildering array of experiences and events that make up the history of the two world wars. But while there are many stories and many experiences, the common bond between those stories is Oakville. Whether the picture’s subject grew up in England or Thunder Bay or Milton, whether he fought at Vimy Ridge in France in the First World War or whether she was a CWAC in Halifax in the Second World War, each lived in Oakville at some time and enriched the town by his or her presence. In the following pages we invite you to share in the story of Oakville and its residents under the Shadows of War.

Remembrance Day 2005, George’s Square, Oakville. The Oakville cenotaph was erected in 1924 to commemorate those who had fallen in the 1914-1918 War. Additional benches were added in 1957 to honour those who had given their lives in the 1939-1945 War. [ Image Details ]
Members of the Lorne Scots 2nd Division of the Royal Canadian Army in Borden, England, 1941. [ Image Details ]
Audrey Johnson drove an ambulance and worked with the Mobile Hospital in Banstead, England, during the Second World War. [ Image Details ]
Canadians at home supported those on the front lines by taking on jobs they might not otherwise have done. With a shortage of men to farm, women helped with the crops in the First World War. [ Image Details ]