Of 619,636 Canadians recruited during the First World War, there were 7,432 Smiths and 148 Smyths, 2,965 McDonalds and 1,646 MacDonalds, 2,342 Johnsons and 1,532 Johnstons. There were 1,797 Stewarts and 294 Stuarts, 1,220 McLeans and 310 MacLeans.
There were just eight Cantleys and one Cantlie.
According to their service records posted online by Library and Archives Canada, some were born overseas, yet they hailed from a wide swath of their adopted Canada, enlisting in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Manitoba. From bridge-builder to prospector to railroader, they reflected the core trades and values of a growing, developing country of fewer than eight million people.
Most were privates, earning a mere $15 a month—about $500 today. Two brothers made officer, another was a decorated lieuten...