Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Raising ‘Human Ammunition’: Motherhood, Propaganda, and the Great War

By Suzanne Evans It’s no coincidence the monolithic “Mother Canada” statue proposed for the controversial war memorial on Cape Breton (and discussed in previous ActiveHistory posts here, here, and here) is the figure of a woman. Although women make only rare appearances in public memorials to the Great War, the “Mother Canada” statue evokes a long and potent tradition of both state… Read more »

Heritage vs. History in the Commemoration of War in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

While history strives to uncover the many voices that make up the chorus of years gone by, heritage simply gives a platform to the voice that yells the loudest. And therein lies both its appeal and its shortcomings. If history is messy, heritage is clean; if history is difficult, heritage is easy.

A Monument to the Past? The Never Forgotten National War Memorial Project

By Jill Campbell-Miller Over this past winter and spring, the controversy around the proposed Never Forgotten National War Memorial Project has become increasingly intense, even reaching the pages of the Guardian. The project, sponsored by the Never Forgotten National Memorial Foundation, and specifically, Toronto businessman Tony Trigiani, intends to honour fallen soldiers who served abroad. Positioned overlooking the Atlantic Ocean… Read more »

A Father’s Grief: The Case of Captain Robert Bartholomew

By Matthew Barrett On September 13th 1918, Captain Robert Bartholomew suffered a sudden nervous breakdown after reading his son’s name in a newspaper casualty list. His only child, nineteen-year old Private Verne Lyle Bartholomew, had been killed in action at Hangard Wood on August 8th 1918. Unable to carry on with his administrative duties in England, the elder Bartholomew fell… Read more »

The Second Battle of Ypres and the Creation of a YMCA Hero

By Jonathan Weier Among the approximately 2000 members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force killed at the Second Battle of Ypres in late April and early May 1915 was the only Canadian YMCA worker killed in combat during the First World War. YMCA Honourary Captain Oscar Irwin, attached to the 10th Battalion of the CEF, was killed when he joined the… Read more »

“On ‘The Road to 2017’: Reflecting on Canada’s First World War Commemoration Plans”

By Jonathan Weier Last year on Activehistory.ca I wrote about the lack of federal government funding for First World War commemoration. Despite the fact that the First World War centennial period has started, the federal government continues to offer little support for First World War commemorative activities. The coming federal election, the recent decline in oil prices, as well as… Read more »

The Ideological Work of Commemoration

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By Jamie Swift In the 1985 Argentinian film, The Official Story, one of the characters, a student, angrily proclaims that his country’s history textbooks had been “written by assassins.” Stories, as we know, vary considerably in the telling. The dominant narrative – to use the now shopworn term – tends to be recounted by the loudest voices. Hardly assassins. But… Read more »

Sexing Up Canada’s First World War

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By Zachary Abram Canadian cultural memory of the First World War is conspicuously asexual considering Canadians had among the highest rates for venereal disease in the British Expeditionary Force, with an infection rate that reached as high as 28.7%. [1] Anyone with a passing interest in the First World War is familiar with Trench Foot and its symptoms are synonymous… Read more »

An American Legion in the CEF? Crossing Borders during “Canada’s” First World War

By Chris Dickon On the American Armistice Day, November 11, 1927, the United States and Canada came together at Arlington Cemetery outside of Washington DC to dedicate a monument to Americans who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), Canada’s First World War army. The representatives that day remarked upon a feature of their shared history that was not well… Read more »