Canadians in Devon 1914 – 1918: War Photographs

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A suprising mix of patriotic propaganda and shocking realism

Step back in time to RAMM in 1918, when the museum hosted this pioneering exhibition of Canadian war photography, now partially recreated a hundred years later.

As part of our First World War Armistice commemorations we explore why these powerful photographs came to Exeter, as well as Devon’s links with Canada and Canadian soldiers.

In 1914 Canada was not yet a sovereign nation, rather a dominion of the vast British Empire. Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook), realised that publicising the bravery and skill of the troops would further Canada’s case for full nationhood, and embedded photographers and artists in the thick of the fighting in France. The resulting photographs, a mix of patriotic propaganda and shocking realism, were seen by thousands of Britons up and down the country, including in Exeter.

In October 1914, many of the Canadian troops disembarking at Plymouth, en route to fight for the ‘Mother Country’, were in fact British emigrants who had only recently left to build new lives in another corner of the Empire.

We are delighted to have worked with the National Gallery Canada, Libraries and Archives Canada and the Imperial War Museum to bring you this exhibition.

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