Canadian WWI Photo 1 181218 CREDIT Vimy Foundation

In Colour: Canada's First World War Heroes

The lives of Canadian troops during the First World War have been brought sharply into focus by these photos.

Canadian WWI Photo 1 181218 CREDIT Vimy Foundation

Canadian troops on a bus (Picture: Vimy Foundation). 

The lives of Canadian troops in the Great War have been brought sharply into focus by newly colourised photos.

The Vimy Foundation in Toronto chose 150 black and white photos from archives across Canada and transformed them into colourful reflections of the events of a century ago.

The photos have been published in a book ‘They Fought In Colour’ and will also be displayed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa until 3 January 2019.

Similar technology was used by filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson to revamp black and white archive footage of the First World War into a full-length colour film called ‘They Shall Grow Not Old’.

Canadian WWI Photo 2 181218 CREDIT Vimy Foundation.
German prisoners carrying an injured Canadian soldier away to be treated (Picture: Vimy Foundation).

The stills showcase a wide variety of events from the conflict; some depict events strongly associated in the public imagination with the war - soldiers struggling through the mud, peering over the top of a trench and walking through the ruins of a French town.

Others show more light-hearted events; soldiers ice-skating in the middle of winter, dressing up in drag for a concert and celebrating the Chinese New Year.

Canadian WWI Photo 3 181218 CREDIT Vimy Foundation.
'Keep the home fires burning!': troops say farewell before heading to war (Picture: Vimy Foundation).

"A lot of those details - people's eyes and their expression and the backgrounds and the landscapes - are lost in black and white compared to colour," Jeremy Diamond, executive director of the Vimy Foundation, told the BBC.

"It gives a great perspective of real events. They're suddenly the real faces of real people."

The Great War proved a seminal event in the history of Canada and Newfoundland – then a separate Dominion within the British Empire.

At the time Canada had a population of eight million people, of whom 625,000 fought for King and Empire.

Around 60,000 were killed and a further 173,000 were wounded.