The Canadian War Memorials Fund
Canadian history and art owe much to Sir Max Aitken (from 1917 onwards, Lord Beaverbrook), an expatriate New Brunswick newspaper baron who combined in one personality both Canadian nationalism and British imperialism. As a friend of Sir Sam Hughes, Canada's Minister of Militia, Aitken had been given charge of overseas military records. His organization had assumed more than archival duties; intent on publicizing Canadian achievements, he produced a three-volume account of Canadian operations (Canada in Flanders), launched a program of military photography that included the sale of prints, pioneered front-line cine-photography, and published a daily newspaper (The Canadian Daily Record) for the soldiers themselves.

Beaverbrook was disturbed that some Canadian achievements, notably the crucial role they played in the Second Battle of Ypres (April 1915), had gone unrecorded by photographers. In 1916, he commissioned a British artist, Richard Jack, to recreate it on canvas. The project expanded, however, with more artists being despatched under the auspices of Beaverbrook's Canadian War Memorials Fund. Ultimately his war art program would involve more than 100 artists - Belgian, British, and Canadian - operating in Canada, England, the Near East, Russia, and France. It would bring Canada some 800 military paintings and sculptures, many of them executed by distinguished figures. Yet the Dominion would not formally thank Lord Beaverbrook until April 1928, and the building which he had intended should house the collection was never erected.

Charge of Flowerdew's Squadron

Alfred Munnings joined the Canadian War Memorials Fund art program in 1918 to paint the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and Canadian Forestry Corps. He took with him to France three stretchers (one 30 x 25 inches, two 24 x 20 inches), plus numerous canvases cut to fit these. The whole, together with sketching papers, watercolours, oils, and brushes, was packed into a light, narrow box.

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