December 2015

Author 
Jeanette Elliott, Collections Relocation Coordinator

As a World War One researcher my greatest interest is not in military strategy, technological advances in weaponry or the political climate of the time - it is the “human element” - the personal thoughts and experiences of those that served and the families they left behind. As we make preparations to celebrate the holiday season with our family, friends and co-workers, one can only imagine how different Christmas must have been for those separated by the Great War. A couple of artifacts in the Fanshawe Pioneer Village permanent collection help to provide us with a rare and personal glimpse into Christmases past.

Small and diminutive, but covered in patriotic Canadian imagery, this little chocolate tin was produced in Toronto by The Cowan Chocolate Company of Canada. The tin would have been marketed in retail stores across Canada during the war years and likely many found their way to the front line. Filled with the company’s famous “Maple Buds”, or perhaps milk medallions or chocolate ginger, the tin and its contents would have been a welcome Christmas treat and a remembrance of home to a soldier in the trenches.

Chocolate Tin

Even Britain’s Royal Family took steps to make sure those serving in his Majesty’s Service were remembered at Christmas. In 1914 Princess Mary, the 17 year-old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, organized...