In April of 1942 citizens of Shaunavon had the chance to inspect the “Tools of War” exhibition.
The exhibition was a train that travelled across the country that contained the equipment, including weapons, that the Canadian Army used in World War 2. The train had 15 coaches and two flat bed carts for the vehicles on display.
An excerpt from The Shaunavon Standard explains why the train was on tour and featured comments made by the Director of Public Relations for the Canadian Army.
“The purpose behind the Canadian Army Train is to bring home in a forceful way to the men and women of this Dominion the inevitably tremendous cost of war by letting them see at close range the instruments of war as used by Canadian soldiers,” he stated. “We believe it is important fundamentally that the public should understand that this train is not sent for entertainment purposes. It is not a ‘circus’ train; it is indeed merely an exhibition of Army weapons.”
The main objective of the train was to show Canadians what their war bonds were purchasing and where their hard-earned money was being spent.
The train carried eight different specialized exhibits which included, Signals, Engineers, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, Royal Canadian Ordinance Corps, Royal Canadian Artillery, Canadian Dental Corps Army Trade Schools, and a Red Cross Booth.
Items included a 25-pounder field gun, a folding boat bridge, radio equipment, 2-pounder anti-tank rifle, dental equipment, food and rations, clothing and equipment, and Vickers, Bren, Lewis and Thompson machine guns, all used in the war.
There were 60 personnel on the train including their commanding officer Lt.-Col. J. E. McKenna.
When the train arrived in Shaunavon a committee made up of J. C. Hossie, Mayor Cardno, Judge Mackinnon, and MLA Harvey McMahon welcomed the train.
An excerpt from the April 29 Shaunavon Standard describes the day, “The colonel outlined the highlights of the equipment of the train, stressing that it was all made in Canada … To judge from a cursory inspection it makes one feel that WAR is the world’s biggest and apparently the most permanent business.”
Jacob Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shaunavon Standard