137th Battalion Regimental Flag

A reproduction of the Sovereigns’ Colour carried by the 137th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, during the First World War is unveiled at the Kings’ Own Gallery, at The Military Museum, Calgary. This flag symbolises the contribution made by the 137th Battalion, a hundred years ago.


Regimental flags or colours are the focal point of loyalty, spirit, and tradition of a regiment. Before being presented, Colours are always consecrated at a religious ceremony.  Customarily, when a Regimental Colour was too old to be used, or no longer required it was hung in a church. Today it is more common for them to be given to a museum for long term care. The 137th Battalion Regimental Colour is deposited at the Glenbow Museum.


Restoration of the Kings’ Own Gallery at The Military Museum called for a display signifying the contribution of the 137th Battalion. A reproduction of the Sovereigns’ Colour was thought appropriate.

As with conservation work, before beginning, we documented the original Colour with photographs, diagrams, and a written report giving detailed information on materials and construction. A full-size maquette was prepared of the Colour and its intricate embroidery.


Reproducing the Sovereigns’ Colour was realised entirely by hand, using the same quality hand-cut silk fabrics and threads utilised for the original. The royal crown and emblazon of Battle Honours was hand-embroidered on both sides in coloured silk and gold bullion, and similarly fringed.

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This project for the Kings’ Own Calgary Regiment has given us access to a treasure trove of textiles, embroiderers, and gold lace suppliers.

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We have to look now at designing a display case, and how to mount the Colour for exhibition in the newly restored Gallery. Mounts, of course, should respond to the needs of the object as well as the aesthetic of the exhibition. Textiles, such as Regimental Colours, are very high maintenance. Words like sympathetic come to mind, they must never be stressed, and should be well supported and comfortable.

Preference for the mount is for it to be inconspicuous – invisible if at all possible. Our next step will be choosing the type and colour of fabric to wrap the mount, and cover the display case interior…

The King’s Own Calgary Regiment traces its origin to the 103rd Regiment, Calgary Rifles raised on 10 April 1910 at Calgary, Alberta. The regiment remained an Active Militia unit during the 1914-1918 War and raised several battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) between 1914 and 1919, including the 137th Battalion.

 The King’s Own Calgary Regiment (Royal Canadian Armoured Corps) Museum is at The Military Museum Calgary 


We’re nearly there!

Mentioned in my previous Blog, an exhibition we’ve been curating with Mary-Beth Lavoilette titled: A Family at War: the Lougheeds, Calgary and the First World War.

The exhibition grows out of the culmination of a career and a family dedicated to public service during the Great War, before and beyond. The challenge: how to tell the vastness of the story in only 60 objects?

Sir James Lougheed

Like any exhibition, it began as a coincidence between the vision of the curators, the objectives of the institution (Lougheed House Conservation Society) and the hoped for interest of the visiting public.  It is also shaped by fragile circumstances, such as limited budgets, resources, and time.

Happily, the past few weeks have marked an exciting moment in the development of the exhibition: we’ve been working with designer Elizabeth Carey bringing together spaces, surfaces, colours, and graphics to support and reveal the stories in the exhibition. This is when things started to become tangible: when the idea becomes a reality.

A tight installation schedule. Given we had only a few days to hang the show, object placement is planned down to the hour.  Yes. We’re nearly there. Installation is almost complete.  Three months have flown by and the calendar says only 2 days left until we open the doors…. The clock says 48 hours!

Opening Reception: October 17, 2014 5:00 pm



A FAMILY AT WAR: the Lougheeds, Calgary and the First World War.
October 15th, 2014 – January 18th, 2015 – Lougheed House




Half way through curating an exhibition.

We were just remarking how difficult it is to obtain original printed propaganda from the Great War in good condition, when, lo and behold…

Spent the morning looking at two very interesting original colour lithographs at Aquila Books, here in Calgary. Both posters are for an exhibition we are co-curating with Mary-Beth Lavoilette for Lougheed House (Beaulieu) National Historic Site titled A Family at War: The Lougheeds, Calgary and the First World War.                                  

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Canadian War Bonds were first issued in November 1915, and later called Victory Bonds, they helped finance military operations in World War One.  For each issue of Bond, a poster was produced urging citizens to buy them. For those who couldn’t afford to buy War Bonds, War Savings Certificates were available.  Thrift Stamps, were directed at children, by accumulating stamps they could use them to buy Bonds.

First issue of the War Bond was at 5.5%.  It was quickly oversubscribed, collecting $398 million (about $50 per capita).  Second and third issues were available in 1918/19 bringing another $1.34 billion.

How Many War Bond Posters Were Produced?
This question is not easy to answer as print runs varied from only a few hundred to many thousands and, with no centralized authority being responsible for production, keeping track of numbers is an impossible task.  It can be certain that hundreds of thousands were printed and found their way onto billboards, into store windows, factories, and essentially anywhere people gathered.

Printing of war propaganda posters meant a huge increase in business for major firms in Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal, as well as for graphic designers, who often remain anonymous and therefore are not credited for their creations.

All images Courtesy of Aquila Books