Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Africa’s War: Anti-colonial Movements and Repression in First World War French West Africa

Thomas Vennes Early on the morning of the 4th of May 1916, a military column in French West Africa set out to quell a rebellion. Their mission was one small part of World War I in Africa, about which little is said in Canada. This post helps illuminate the under-appreciated global and colonial ramifications of the First World War. The… Read more »

Art, Religion, & Iconography in the Vimy Memorial: An Overview

In recognition of Remembrance Day 2017, the Canada’s First World War series on ActiveHistory.ca is pleased to publish this article by Laura Brandon, a former curator and historian at the Canadian War Museum. In the year of the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Brandon’s piece sheds light on the design and meaning of the enormous monument to that battle… Read more »

Six Nations Soldiers and British Women’s Activism during and after the First World War

Alison Norman Settler Canadians seem to be increasingly interested in acting as allies with Indigenous people, interested in reconciling and learning, in this post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission era.  The runaway success of Crystal Fraser and Sara Komarnisky’s recent post on 150 acts of reconciliation (over 25,000 views!), the popularity of the University of Alberta’s free online course on Indigenous history,… Read more »

The Bolshevik: Art, Revolution and Canada

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By Laura Brandon On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, this article sheds light on the background and history of a virtually unknown 1918 Canadian War Museum painting by English artist, David Jagger (1891-1958). Entitled The Bolshevik, it is an impressive if anomalous canvas in the museum’s war art collection. The circumstances surrounding this artwork’s creation,… Read more »

Canadian Red Cross Sock-Selling: ‘Fake News’ of the First World War

By Sarah Glassford The following excerpt from Sarah Glassford, Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross (Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017) is reproduced with the permission of McGill-Queen’s University Press. Introduction: During the First World War, the Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS) mobilized Canadians across the country in support of its humanitarian work for the benefit of… Read more »

In Conversation II: Archiving and Accessing Canada’s First World War

By Sarah Glassford and Rose Morton Preamble This post is the product of several conversations and a more formal Q&A email exchange between two staff members at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) in Fredericton: Rose Morton is a Reference Archivist, and Sarah Glassford is a summer intern with a background in History. We draw no broad conclusions, but… Read more »

Red Crosses and White Cotton: Memory and Meaning in First World War Quilts

By Rebecca Beausaert It is a cold, wintry Wednesday afternoon in January 1917. Half a dozen women of varied ages are seated around a large quilt frame set up in the sitting room of a rural farmhouse in Oxford County, Ontario. Some work quietly, their thoughts running to domestic tasks set aside to be here. A few cannot help but think… Read more »

The Alderville War Memorial: A Bizarre Monument or A Community’s Search for Meaning?

By Jackson Pind If you drive north from Highway 401 in southern Ontario along county road 45, you will come across the reserve of Alderville First Nation, nestled on the shore of Rice Lake. If you travel in this direction, which summer cottagers and scenic adventurers often do, you will notice a striking monument in the middle of the endless… Read more »

Atheists in the Trenches: Loss of Faith among Canadians in the Great War

By Elliot Hanowski Did the horrors of the Great War cause Canadian soldiers to lose their faith? Or is it true that there were no atheists in the trenches? The war has generally been seen as a powerfully disillusioning experience. Books such as Paul Fussell’s widely influential The Great War and Modern Memory portray the war as the origins of… Read more »

National Disunity and the Meaning of Vimy Ridge

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By Matt Barrett Attempting to identify the historical significance of Vimy Ridge for the general public, many historians, writers and politicians have often resorted to a nationalistic framework that depicts the battle as a vital step in the creation of an independent Canada. From April 9th to 12th 1917, the four Canadian Divisions fought together for the first time and… Read more »