Information for teachers

Lest We Forget combines historical research with community outreach. It provides the opportunity for students to:

  • conduct primary research
  • develop their skills in writing essays
  • use the computer to access historical documents and databases

Students are tasked with researching and writing about individuals who served in the First and Second World Wars whose names are listed on the local cenotaphs in communities across Canada.

Getting started

There are several options for approaching Lest We Forget.

You can:

  • form groups of students to collect the names of service persons commemorated in schools, public libraries, churches, Legion, Air Force Wing and historical societies
  • have your students collect the names from cenotaphs
  • ask your students if they have relatives who fought in the First or Second World War

Once the names are collected, you can assign one service person name to a student or pair of students.

How to proceed

To help you in this project, we provide starting templates and supporting documents as well as a sample of a final product (essay on Clarence Garfield Mainse). We also provide information on selecting military service files.

Going further

First World War unit research

Unit research provides highly detailed information on troop movements and battles. Read about how to find and view digitized images of the First World War Diaries. From here, students can cross-reference the date of death of their service person to the unit and discover what the unit was doing on the day their service person died. Consult the guide to Sources Relating to Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Photo research

Students may borrow and scan photographs of service persons to illustrate their essay. Posting a notice on social media or in a community newspaper requesting photographs of individuals who fought in the First and Second World Wars is a good way to find those photographs.

Library and Archives Canada has several thousand photographs and posters related to Canada’s military activity in the First World War and the Second World War. You can search for them in our online database. Many are digitized and can be used by your students to illustrate their work.

Newspaper research

In many communities, the local public library has a collection of newspapers on microfilm. Students can search the death announcements from these newspapers to find out information about service persons and their relatives. Many newspapers are also available online. Consult our Microform Holdings: Geographical Microform List to find out what is available online.

Project extensions

These project extensions offer ideas for broadening the scope of the Lest We Forget project. They encourage students to build bridges between the past, present and future, and to connect wartime history to their own local contexts.

What’s in a name?

This extension challenges students to participate in the naming process of new streets, roads, and buildings in their municipality. Students create proposals with justifications for naming new construction projects after significant individuals from their community who served and died during the First or Second World War.

What’s in a name? project extension

Investigating monuments

In this extension, students will investigate the significance of wartime monuments in their communities, and consider how the interpretation of this significance can change over time. Students will explore the symbols and texts on monuments, the materials used to make them, and their size and geographic placement. At the same time, they will analyze the original intentions for creating the monuments and the perceptions of them today.

Investigating monuments project extension