Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Francophone Alberta: Deeply Engaged in the First World War

By Rebecca Lazarenko As news of impending conflict travelled across Canada on August 4, 1914, a monstrous manifestation in favour of the declaration of war was held in downtown Edmonton. Thousands of French and English residents marched up and down the streets of the city, proudly waving the French, British and Canadian flags, shouting “hourah!” in favour of the declaration,… Read more »

The francophone community of Alberta and the First World War

By Rebecca Lazarenko When Canadians consider the French-Canadian experience of the First World War, what most often comes to mind is the opposition of French Canadians in Québec to conscription, and the war itself more broadly. Very few Canadians consider that there were multiple francophone communities outside of Québec and that their experiences during the war varied. Even fewer consider… Read more »

Reflections on the First World War

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By Eric Story, Brittany Dunn and Alexander Maavara Anniversaries invite reflection. Regardless of historians’ tendency to hastily dismiss commemorations or celebrations of the past as pesky purveyors of myth, these events nonetheless generate discussion––sometimes informed, other times less so––about history. The centenary of the First World War was no different. Between 2014 and 2018, people around the world engaged in… Read more »

In Conversation IV: Preserving and Passing-On the Legacies of Canada’s First World War

By Sarah Glassford and Jonathan Vance Preamble This post is the product of a Q&A email exchange between Dr. Jonathan Vance, a professor in the Department of History at The University of Western Ontario, and Dr. Sarah Glassford, an archivist at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. We met at Western as student and professor in the autumn of 1997;… Read more »

We need to stop talking about Vimy

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Jonathan Weier As a historian of Canada’s involvement in the First World War I get awfully tired of talking and writing about the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Especially tiresome is the intellectual work of critiquing the reification of Vimy’s nationalist mythology, a topic that seems to come up annually when its anniversary rolls around. The Vimy mythology has an enduring… Read more »

Growing Pains: The Great War Veterans’ Association, Early Poppy Day Campaigns, and the Seeds of Commemorative Tradition

Jonathan Scotland As Andrea Eidinger reminded us in her recent post on the changing nature of poppies and Remembrance Day, the poppy has been central to Canadian commemorations of wartime sacrifices since its adoption ninety-seven years ago.[1] Despite this ongoing effort to remember, the iconic red flower’s history is often taken for granted, its early years almost completely overlooked. Even… Read more »

The Dark Side of Disarmament: Ocean Pollution, Peace, and the World Wars

Alex Souchen On 11 November 2018 the world paused for a moment of silence to commemorate the end of the First World War. The solemn occasion offered people around the world an opportunity to honour the dead and pay homage to peace, freedom, and reconciliation. The theme of peace will likely continue as a prominent feature at future Remembrance Day… Read more »

Remembrance Day 2018 and Canada’s First World War Centennial

By Nathan Smith This past Remembrance Day I was at Don Heights Unitarian Congregation in Toronto to speak about the armistice of 1918 and commemoration. I arrived feeling grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts on the centennial of that moment in time, and was surprised to immediately encounter the congregation’s exhibit of items from the era of the… Read more »

“The town’s gone wild”: Sounds of Victory in Toronto, 11 November 1918

By Sara Karn Come along, be merry, join our Jubilee. Mars has got the knock-out, Peace is in, you see. Toot your little tooter, deck yourself with flags. Grab your feather tickler, be among the wags. Don’t forget the powder, sprinkle it around. Laugh-it will not hurt you; make you strong and sound. Show you are a human – be… Read more »

First World War Postscript: “Fed Up and Tired” in the Months Following the Armistice

Robert Alldritt Following the end of the First World War, representatives of the Allied and Associated nations agreed that a medal, which would be officially known as the “Interallied Victory Medal,” would be awarded in commemoration of victory over Germany[i].  In all, approximately fourteen million bronze medals suspended by distinctive double-rainbow ribbons symbolizing “calm after a storm” were distributed; their… Read more »