Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

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 »

Feet of Clay? Canada’s Vimy Ridge

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Nic Clarke The Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-12 April 1917) is held by many Canadians as a pivotal moment in the formation of a distinct Canadian identity, and, indeed, Canada’s transformation from British dominion to independent state.  At first glance this belief is not hard to understand.  Fighting together for the first time, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps… Read more »

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 »