Canadian Journalists Visit France

The Film


Running Time
04 min 16 s

Canadian War Records Office, Ministry of Information

This film documents various stages in an organized tour by Canadian journalists in France. Such tours would have been tightly controlled, and journalists would have been permitted to speak only with pre-selected army representatives, usually officers who had been coached to deliver pre-approved messages.

This footage was shot in July 1918 by Walter Buckstone, a cameraman working for the Canadian War Records Office (CWRO), an agency created and managed by Maxwell Aitken. The Ontario-born Aitken had employed his considerable skills as a financier and newspaperman to form close ties with the British establishment and obtain a knighthood. Elected as a Conservative to the British House of Parliament in 1910, Aitken was involved in the downfall of Prime Minister Herbert Asquith in 1916. Asquith’s successor, David Lloyd George, was an associate of Aitken’s and rewarded him by elevating him to the peerage. Lord Beaverbrook was his new title.

As head of the CWRO, Aitken monitored the dissemination of all information relating to Canada’s war effort and was keenly aware of the power of moving image. The Canadian journalists shown in this clip would have been closely supervised by the CWRO and no investigative reporting would have been permitted.

The clip begins with a segment depicting the journalists examining the ruins of a large institutional building in the company of army nurses. This is followed by images of Canadian soldiers enjoying a period of leave along the River Seine in Paris. This would have been a relatively rare occurrence, as Canadian soldiers generally took their leave in Britain where many of them had family connections. We then see images of the newsmen visiting the British Army Headquarters in Paris.

The clip concludes with images of a small-gauge railway. These trains were used in the battlefield to transport military supplies and to ferry wounded men to medical treatment.


After a Bombing Raid in Étaples, France, 1918 « The Mechanical Bug »

Teaching Materials

Create a Wartime Newspaper