Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Soldier-Candidates and the 1917 Wartime Election

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By Matthew Barrett, Queen’s University At a 1923 meeting of the Great War Veterans Association (GWVA) in Ottawa, General William Antrobus Griesbach, former Member of Parliament for Edmonton West and Senator for Alberta, remarked on the expected role of the ex-soldier in Canadian political life. “I had an idea at one time,” he explained, “that after the war over half… Read more »

Conscientious Objectors: Fitting Dissent into a Coming of Age Story

By Amy Shaw With the centennials of the events of the First World War and the sesquicentennial of those leading to Confederation this is a busy time in terms of commemoration. And, as both are presented as different kinds of birth of a nation, we’re paying a lot of attention right now to questions of identity. The trouble is the… Read more »

Racist Propaganda and the Shaping of Boys’ Attitudes toward War

By Stephen Dale What ideas and convictions motivated the legions of young men who so eagerly headed off to the trenches of the First World War? What were the boys who stayed home told about the events of that war as the carnage escalated? And what sort of patriotic stories could be peddled after the war to youngsters who had… Read more »

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 »