Canadian Red Cross Life Membership Certificate 1918

Date / Period
Object Type
Canadian Red Cross
Fundraising and Communications

The First World War (1914-18) was a period of expansion and experimentation for the Canadian Red Cross. During four years of war the society learned how to make the most of its human resources, and in the process, became more efficient at acquiring, budgeting, and spending its financial resources. This Life Membership certificate from 1918 brings together the two crucial elements: people and funds.

Over the course of the war, the Canadian Red Cross established relationships with citizens across the spectrum of Canadian society. Women, men, children, the elderly, the very poor, the very rich -- all could be found among those who contributed time, labour, or money in 1918. Selling memberships (annual or life) was only one of many ways the society raised funds for its war work that year.

On July 25, 1918, Mrs. L.J. Carlyle of Penhold, Alberta, made a donation of $25.00 or more to the Canadian Red Cross, thereby earning herself a Life Membership. She no longer needed to donate at least $1.00 per year as a membership fee, in order to be officially affiliated with the Red Cross. The special certificate decorated with Canadian national and provincial emblems, as well as the many signatures on it (three top-ranking national Red Cross leaders and two local branch officials) make it clear that this was intended to be a mark of honour.

Mrs. Carlyle’s $25.00 (or more) joined the donations of other individuals and organizations to contribute over $4.5 million in cash to Canadian Red Cross funds in 1918. This amount was over half a million dollars more than all the cash contributions received by the society from August 1914 to December 1916, combined. The Bank of Canada’s online Inflation Calculator indicates that these 1918 donations are worth roughly $67 million in 2016 Canadian dollars. 

This kind of enthusiastic financial support was joined in 1918 by an estimated $3.5 million-worth of supplies made by dedicated Red Cross volunteers (equivalent to more than $52 million in 2016 terms). This impressive combination of human and financial resources enabled the Canadian Red Cross to assist sick, wounded, and captured servicemen until the end of the war and beyond. It also fuelled the society’s move into peacetime public health work beginning in 1919. 

Canadian Red Cross Life Membership Certificate 1918

Canadian Red Cross Life Membership Certificate 1918
Canadian Red Cross Life Membership Certificate 1918

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