The War to End All Wars

By Adam McCullouch, Archivist, Canadian Baptist Archives and Jacqueline Solomon, Communications Associate, CBOQ

On November 11, 1918, the “War to End All Wars” finally ended. After four brutal years of young men dying in sodden trenches, the war had a deep and lasting impact on the Baptist community in Ontario and Quebec.

And yet, despite the horrors of The Great War, just two decades later the world rushed right back in—this time with better weaponry. And once again, millions of lives were lost in concentration camps, on battle fields and in hospitals. Between the two wars it is estimated that a hundred million lives were snuffed out.

Most of us alive today have never experienced war, but for those who did and for the ones who stayed behind to pray, worry and mourn, war left an indelible impression on the Canadian psyche.

The first issue of The Canadian Baptist published after the conclusion of war, November 14, 2018 began with the short text that expressed the loss of community after the war’s end.

Baptists and The Great War

Before the dawn of digital communications, information was harder to come by, and news from the Front was rare and precious. To keep the Canadian Baptist family up to date with what was happening to their church family’s young people, a regular weekly column entitled “Baptists and the War” highlighted the Baptist involvement with the war effort. The column was supplied with information from local churches and the loved ones of those that served and included news of current service and the many deaths that occurred as a result.


Local Churches

Each local Canadian Baptist church in Ontario and Quebec was impacted by war differently, but many of them lost key members of their communities—many of whom where very young and left siblings and parents behind. The many honour rolls and memorials that many churches produced after end of the war to commemorate service and the lives that were lost remain on many church walls.


The Parkdale Baptist Church Golden Jubilee history records the unveiling of its bronze memorial tablet and stained glass window.

William Albert Hughes: A Profile

by Walter McIntyre
Missional Initiatives Associate, CBOQ

William Albert Hughes was laid to rest in the large cemetery at Burgessville Baptist Church. William was the son of Peter and Lanah Hughes who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces when he was still only 16 years old.

William died a month after his 17th birthday at Lens, in France on the very first day of the battle for Hill 70. The Canadian Corps attacked the city of Lens in August 1917 in order to relieve pressure on other Allied troops fighting near Passchendaele in Flanders. Canada lost more than 9,000 soldiers at Hill 70, but Germany lost an estimated 25,000, making it a major Canadian victory. Despite the passage of time, one must reflect upon the loss it must have been for Peter and Lanah. What a costly gift to lay down for freedom.

Joseph Edgar Bates: A Profile

By Adam McCulloch
Archivist, Canadian Baptist Archives

Born in Toronto in 1895, Joseph Edgar Bates enlisted in the Canadian army in March, 1916, during the final months of his undergraduate degree at McMaster University. After completing his university education, he was assigned to be a sapper, building and repairing roads and bridges, in a divisional signaler company. He arrived in England in June 1916. By January 1917, he was assigned to a signal pool in France.

In April 1918, Bates was awarded the Military Medal for bravery shown in the field. The following month he was sent back to England from France. He was discharged from the army shortly after the war ended and, upon returning to Canada, he studied medicine.  Joseph Edgar Bates became a well-respected doctor and an engaged member of Walmer Road Baptist Church, Toronto.

These images are from a World War I photo album that is part of the Joseph Edgar Bates personal papers collection held at the Canadian Baptist Archives. Joseph Bates recorded many day to day experiences of his time in the army with his camera. Many of these images show how a young enlisted man experienced the war not during battle, but during time of training and waiting.



The Closing Hymn

The Canadian Baptist issue from November 21, 1918 began with a Hymn to Victory.

This hymn was chosen by the publisher of The Canadian Baptist as it reflected the joy that the Canadian Baptists of Ontario and Quebec felt at winning the war, while acknowledging the high price of victory.