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For teachers

On All Fronts: World War II and the NFB

A Word for Teachers:

Few people in Canada were untouched by the Second World War — the most deadly and far-reaching conflict in history — and a new Web site now brings it into vibrant focus for a new generation of Canadians. 

On All Fronts draws upon the NFB’s remarkable audiovisual collection, using film to illuminate a complex and pivotal chapter in Canada’s history.

Veterans recall military action in Normandy and Italy, while the women who built bomber aircraft in Thunder Bay evoke life on the home front. A concentration camp survivor returns to Germany. A Chinese-Canadian filmmaker honours her father’s wartime bravery. A discovery in Burma’s jungle finally solves a WWII mystery.

Multi-faceted and classroom-friendly, On All Fronts brings the past to life through a rich array of stories and voices, through 136 complete films (67 in English, 3 without words and 66 in French in the French part of the site) and 114 excerpts (57 in English, 57 in French), along with a wealth of supplementary material. The site will provide teachers with a valuable new Internet resource for secondary and post-secondary levels.

Here’s what the site offers:

WWII: An Overview in Moving Pictures

A selection of films and short clips offer a general history of Canada’s involvement in WWII.

Three main thematic sections and seven sub-themes

Complete films and selected excerpts, presented with background and context notes, illustrate the following themes and sub-themes:

Many Voices, Many Stories
• Pride and Sacrifice
• Personal Stories

The Home Front
• Women and the War
• Recruitment and Conscription
• Propaganda: The Battle for Hearts and Minds

Critical Perspectives
• The Rights and Wrongs of War
• Going Back

For teachers: 8 lesson plans

Seven lesson plans on specific films and a lesson plan on wartime propaganda.

Articles by specialists

A selection of articles on various aspects of wartime history by noted historians, including Jack Granatstein, Desmond Morton and Ruth Roach Pierson.

Filmed interviews

Filmed interview clips with Harry Campbell, active at the NFB during WWII, and Jacques Lacoursière, a Quebec historian with a special interest in conscription. 

Image bank

An online archive of over 60 war-related visual artefacts — including posters, photographs and newspaper clippings — from the Canadian War Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, Library and Archives Canada, and the NFB’s own collection.


Pertinent words and terms.

Provisions for students with hearing and visual impairments

27 films are available with closed captioning for the hearing-impaired viewers, and 44 films include described video for the vision-impaired.

Search functions
Easy to navigate internal search functions.

How to cite content in On All Fronts

Students citing On All Fronts in their written work can use the following model:

Roach Pierson, Ruth. “Women and the War.” On All Fronts: World War II and the NFB. Montreal: National Film Board of Canada, 2008, date of access.