Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Embodying Anti-German Sentiment during the Great War: An Archival Moment

By Sarah Glassford Can toilet paper have archival value? Within the eclectic collections that comprise MC300 (York-Sunbury Historical Society) at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, we find just such an artifact. (I hesitate to call it a “document” although it is, in fact, ink on paper.) It is tantalizingly described in the finding aid as “#21 ‘Do Your Bit’… Read more »

Art as Prescience: Reflections on Sarah Beck’s 2001 ÖDE

By Laura Brandon Editors’ Preface Two new exhibits were recently opened at the University of Calgary’s Founders’ Gallery in The Military Museums. Gassed Redux is a live recreation of John Singer Sargent’s oil painting Gassed, which depicts victims of a 1918 gas attack on the Western Front.[1] The exhibit was mounted this past June 14th by artist Adad Hannah, and… Read more »

Indigenous Veterans, the Indian Act, and the Origins of National Aboriginal Veterans Day

Eric Story The inaugural National Aboriginal Veterans Day took place on 8 November 1993, and the monument of the same name was unveiled in Ottawa the following year. Since its inauguration, National Aboriginal Veterans Day has grown, as ceremonies are now being held in various cities across Canada with larger crowds each year. With that growth, however, disagreement has arisen…. Read more »

“The Equal and Respected Companions of Men”[1]: The Female Veteran of the Great War

By Eliza Richardson Three years ago, famed and controversial historian Jack Granatstein claimed that Canada botched the Great War centenary. Although numerous commemorative events were planned, institutions like Heritage Canada had fewer funds to organize them. Granatstein argued that to properly commemorate the war, the Canadian government needed to invest in “TV documentaries on the war and its battles and… Read more »

“He Will Again Be Able to Make Himself Self-Sustaining”[1]: Canadian Ex-Officers’ Return to Civilian Life

Brittany Dunn  With the end of the First World War in November 1918 and demobilization following soon after, hundreds of thousands of servicemen returned to Canada and civilian life. Veterans approached their relationships with the government as they applied for state assistance in various ways, but ex-officers typically wanted to avoid dependence on the state, feeling it compromised their status… Read more »

The Difficulty in Diagnosis: Shell Shock and the Case of Private Dennis R.

Kandace Bogaert During the First World War more than 15,000 Canadian soldiers were diagnosed with combat related psychological illnesses.[i] While the term shell shock retained social currency long after the war, it was banned as a diagnosis in the military in 1917. Too many soldiers were being evacuated from the trenches, and shell shock had become an ambiguous catch all… Read more »

Coming Home: Veterans, Pensions and the Canadian State After the Great War

By Eric Story What happened to Canadian veterans after the Great War? In the minds of many, shell shock and physical disfigurement loom large. These two images of veterans have attracted so much attention in both academic writings and cultural representations that they have become representative of the entire population of returning ex-servicemen.[1] However, a group of researchers at the… Read more »

In Conversation III: Touring the Battlefields of Canada’s First World War

By Sarah Glassford and Ady King   Preamble This post is the product of a Q&A email exchange between Ady King, a Grade 11 student from Fredericton, New Brunswick, and Sarah Glassford, a Master of Library and Information Science student at Western University with a background in History. We met in the summer of 2017 when Ady gave a presentation… Read more »

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 »