Smart Shopping: War stories told through private collection

Advertisement for war bonds circulated during WWII. Archives of Canada
Advertisement for war bonds circulated during WWII. Archives of Canada

Advertisement for war bonds circulated during WWII. Archives of Canada

Remembering our war veterans and their sacrifices should always be part of our lives. A small museum here in Montreal allows citizens to honour their achievements by learning about their lives.

Grenadier Militaria is a business involved with the study and presentation of Canadian military history from the First World War. There are three parts to the organization: a private collection of wartime memorabilia, a military bookstore and a reference library.

Mark Cahill has been collecting war-related items for 30 years, gradually focusing on the First World War and elements related to Trench Warfare, so expect to find helmets, rifles, jackets, caps, flags, firearms and even trench art and frightened letters home. Cahill roamed around Eastern Canada, the Eastern U.S., France, England and Belgium, and also bought from other collectors.

Medals, uniforms, mess kits, miniatures, war posters and more can be found on the upper floor. Cahill especially likes to collect items that tell stories of individual soldiers, so he buys personal items like medals, uniforms, badges, cigarette cases, lighters, medallions, photographs and diaries.

Join the war efforThese elements make viewing his collection poignant and personal.

Posters, paintings, silverware and porcelain tableware related to the war effort help us remember that war was experienced at home, as well as in the muck- and blood-filled trenches.

Cahill has evolved from an inveterate collector into an authority on the subject. His is one of the largest First World War collections in Canada.

Shoppers can look at the online catalogue to check out rare and out-of-print books to buy online. Browse in person Monday to Friday, 9-5, or make an appointment for a Saturday visit.

Mailing list subscribers receive a free printed catalogue.

Grenadier Militaria plans to obtain a copy of each Canadian regimental history relating to that war; they have about 200 so far. If you are interested in finding out about an ancestor or you are a student who needs to do some research, or even if you are just interested in learning more about this period of history, you are welcome to browse. The reference library is more for regimental research, since it is hard to get specific information on a particular soldier.

For that information, visit the Canadian War Records Service.

Grenadier can help obtain war records of Canadian relatives who fought in the First or Second World War, via a form on their website. Soldiers who fought in the Second World War will have to have been deceased for 20 years to obtain the records; they also require proof of death. There are charges for this service.

With the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War approaching, Cahill and his team are preparing to play an important role in the global commemoration.

5524 St. Patrick, Suite 202. 514-788-6007, Grenadier Militaria buys First World War items.

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