History Slam Episode Forty: The First World War at the Pierre Savard Conference

By Sean Graham

From April 23 to 25, the History Graduate Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa hosted the 10th Annual Pierre Savard Conference. Robert Englebert, professor at the University of Saskatchewan at founder of the conference, joined the ranks of John Ralston Saul, David Hackett Fischer, and James Bartleman, among others, as the conference’s keynotes. In my five years at the University of Ottawa I have been privileged to participate in the conference every year. Over the years the conference has changed and grown, but the presence and bright smile of Mme. Savard has constantly been a welcome sight to all attendees.

One thing that made this year’s conference particularly notable was the presence of a strong contingent of students from the University of Western Ontario. Several members of the school’s history department made the trek from London to Ottawa, a lot of them bringing presentations on the First World War. With the centenary of the war’s outbreak fast approaching, the war has increasingly received attention in the press, including questions on how the country is commemorating the event. And just last week, we highlighted the video series on the war by the History Department at York University.

In this episode of the History Slam I talk with three members of the Western contingent at the Pierre Savard Conference about the First World War. First I chat with Ryan Flavelle about the Alberta remittance men. That’s followed by my conversation with Jordan Chase about self-inflicted wounds, while Jeremy Garrett describes burial policy. The four of us conclude by discussing commemoration and Canadians’ commemoration of the war.

Sean Graham is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa where he is currently working on a project that examines the early years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has previously studied at Nipissing University, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Regina and like any red-blooded Canadian his ultimate dream is to be a curling champion while living on a diet of beer and poutine.

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