Canada and the First World War


Soldiers did not spend all of their time fighting in the trenches or preparing for battle. There was leisure time, especially when soldiers rotated to the rear areas.

Rotation in and out of the Trenches

Soldiers rotated into and out of the front lines to provide a break from the stress of combat. They spent four to six days in the front trenches before moving back and spending an equal number of days in the secondary and, finally, the reserve trenches. This system of rotation, along with occasional leave to England, prevented many soldiers from breaking down.

Relaxation in a YMCA Hut

There was more free time in the rear areas, even though soldiers were ordered to train and provide work parties for the front. When not engaged in these activities, soldiers could idle away hours in a YMCA hut, often the centre of a soldier’s social life. The huts provided a quiet space in the daytime to catch up on reading and writing, and a gathering space for concerts or lectures in the evening.

Sports for Healthy Stress Relief

Sports also relieved the stress of war and the monotony of soldiering. The army saw sports as good for morale, fitness, and keeping soldiers out of trouble. The soldiers loved their games, baseball most of all.

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