Category Archives: Canada’s First World War

Further Writing on War, Loss and Remembrance: Reflections on In Flanders Fields: 100 Years

By Christopher Schultz Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields. – John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields,” Dec 1915 My high school had an award-winning music program. I… Read more »

“Trustees of the Future” and the Echoes of History

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By Calyssa Erb On 23 October 1916, two years into the Great War, Prime Minister Robert Borden spoke to Canadians with the goal of inspiring more citizens to get involved in the war effort. Nearly a century later on 22 October 2014, following the shooting at Canada’s National War Memorial in Ottawa and fears of another attack on Canadian soil,… Read more »

New Archives of Ontario Online Exhibit: Ontario’s WWI Hospital Overseas

By Mackenzie Warner One hundred years ago – November 1915 – Canada had passed the one year mark in the Great War that would continue for another three long years. In Orpington, England, a hospital commissioned by the Government of Ontario was under construction, and applications were flowing in from Ontario doctors and nurses who hoped to serve at their… Read more »

World War One: A Fight for Freedom?

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By Geoff Read If one looks at Veterans’ Affairs’ website one will find a page dedicated to the National War Memorial. The opening paragraph of the text on the page reads, The National War Memorial, also known as “The Response,” is a cenotaph symbolizing the sacrifice of all Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have served Canada in time of war… Read more »

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.