Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Peaceable Kingdom or Emergency State?  The Legacy of Canada’s First World War for Security Regulation and Civil Rights

By Dennis Molinaro The First World War led to many profound changes in Canadian society, including expanding the security powers of the government and laying the foundations of the modern surveillance state. Through measures such as the War Measures Act and Section 98, certain wartime powers became a permanent means of judging people’s politics in peacetime.  Surprisingly, this legacy of… Read more »

“You want to put what, where?” Contesting Malpeque’s (Second) First World War Memorial

By Sarah Glassford “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. -from “Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley I cannot think about the politics of commemoration without remembering a famous poem I read in one of my undergraduate English courses.  In “Ozymandias,” Romantic poet Percy Shelley reflects upon the transience of… Read more »

Unfit to Fight: The History of Rejecting First World War Volunteers – An Excerpt

By Nic Clarke Nic Clarke is an historian at the Canadian War Museum who has researched Canadian Expeditionary Force policy concerning the physical fitness of recruits, and the implications of rejection for volunteers.  The following is an excerpt from his recent book on the topic, Unwanted Warriors: The Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2015).  We publish… Read more »

Canada’s History and the First World War Centennial: A Conversation

ActiveHistory.ca has an announcement!  With contributors’ approval, Canada’s History will be selecting posts from the “Canada’s First World War” series on ActiveHistory.ca for inclusion in Canada’s Great War Album.   The album is Canada’s History’s online tribute to people and stories from the war, and carries on from their book project that recognized the centennial of the war’s outbreak. The arrangement… Read more »

A View from the (Editing) Trenches: Summer 2016 and the Challenges of (Knowledge) Mobilization

Sarah Glassford, Christopher Schultz, Nathan Smith, and Jonathan Weier Following a call for submissions, the Canada’s First World War series on ActiveHistory.ca began with a post by Nathan Smith in August 2014 – exactly a century after the outbreak of the Great War. Since that time, the series has posted 40  pieces, including this one. The posts cover topics ranging… Read more »

“Manna From Heaven” – A YMCA Physical Director at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain

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By Robert Alldritt Before he was a prisoner of war in Germany (a story explored in an earlier article), Sergeant William A. Alldritt served as a machine gunner with the 8th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). However, as documented in many of the letters he sent home and in letters written by his colleagues and fellow soldiers, he… Read more »

Vimy Ridge and Canadian Nationalism

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By Walter Klaassen Several weeks ago the CBC National News offered a film clip of the President of France, Francois Hollande, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel standing together at the site commemorating the 1916 Battle of Verdun.  It has been called the biggest battle in history.  It lasted for 300 days and resulted in 300,000 French and German dead. … Read more »

In Conversation: Teaching and Learning Canada’s First World War

By Sarah Glassford and Ruby Madigan Preamble During the winter 2014 semester, we (the authors) experienced HIST 309A “Canada and the First World War” from opposite sides of the teaching-and-learning equation. Sarah was teaching the course, offered by the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Department of History, while Ruby was a student taking the course as an elective. We… Read more »

“Deeply regret to inform you”: War and Loss in the Trapp Family

By Mike Bechthold The loss of a loved one during the First World War was often conveyed by a telegram beginning with the life-altering preamble, “Deeply regret to inform you….” This simple piece of paper heralded the deaths of sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers leaving families to pick up the pieces.  Rudyard Kipling, writing of the loss of his son… Read more »

Performing For War, Hoping For Peace: Canadian Actresses’ Transnational Engagements with World War I

By Cecilia Morgan It opened with a number of trumpet calls, followed by the boom of cannons. Then the curtain rose and the central attraction of the 1917 vaudeville production Liberty Aflame was revealed: Julia Arthur, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. According to theatre reviewer Alan Dale, “Miss Arthur stood, as all stars love to stand, in the absolute… Read more »