"Every front-line soldier of World War I knew that his true friend was the man in the Salvation Army canteen."
- Will Bird, Ghosts Have Warm Hands

During the First World War (1914-18), the Canadian Salvation Army’s overseas activities were part of the much larger effort organized by British Salvationists.

The Canadian SA sent five military chaplains to the front and helped operate well-equipped huts, canteens, rest facilities, and hostels in Britain, France and Belgium. There, war-weary troops could bathe, refresh their clothing, eat decent food, and prepare themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually for the always difficult return to the trenches.

The troops coined the affectionate nickname ‘Sally Ann’ to describe the Salvation Army while the familiar Red Shield logo - the emblem of its war efforts - also dates from this period.

In Canada, the Salvation Army Home League raised funds and sent tens of thousands of comfort packages containing socks, underwear, Christmas presents, and other items directly to the Salvation Army chaplains for distribution to Canadian troops.

Salvationists also visited the homes of departed soldiers to look into the welfare of their dependants and comforted many bereaved families.

In 1918, the organization raised enough money to open a number of hostels across Canada - in Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Halifax, Kingston, and elsewhere - each offering a quiet retreat, especially for soldiers on their way home or awaiting demobilization at war’s end.