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Canada and the First World War

Canada and the First World War: Essays in Honour of Robert Craig Brown

Edited by David MacKenzie
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 430
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  • Book Info
    Canada and the First World War
    Book Description:

    Canada and the First World Waris a tribute to esteemed University of Toronto historian Robert Craig Brown, one of Canada's greatest authorities on World War One, and the contributors include a cross-section of his friends, colleagues, contemporaries, and former students.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2789-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. I Introduction

    • Introduction: Myth, Memory, and the Transformation of Canadian Society
      (pp. 3-14)

      The First World War touched the lives of every Canadian man, woman, and child, whether they remained at home or served overseas, and it continues to be one of the most fascinating periods in Canadian history. No one who seriously studies Canada in the modern era can ignore the First World War. But it is one of those peculiar historical truths that despite the impact of the Great War on all aspects of Canadian life, Canadians played practically no role in its outbreak. In 1914 war came to Canadians, as it did to Europeans, ‘out of a cloudless sky, to...

    • 1 Craig Brown’s Logical Reason
      (pp. 15-32)

      During the great debate in the 1970s, over the supposed ‘Americanization of Canadian universities,’ I occasionally thought about my good friend and colleague, Robert Craig Brown. Had I wanted an example, a prime, personal example of the academic imperialism of the United States, Brown could have been it. Back in 1957 when Brown, having just graduated from the University of Rochester, arrived at the University of Toronto as the recipient of a Canada Council fellowship, his presence immediately caused me more than a little inconvenience. A good Methodist, he had demonstrated his theological confusion by applying to live in Knox...

  6. II Fighting the War

    • 2 The Military Effort, 1914–1918
      (pp. 35-61)

      Most of the world remembers the First World War as a time when ‘innocent young men, their heads full of high abstractions like Honour, Glory and England ... were slaughtered in stupid battles planned by stupid Generals.’¹ English-speaking Canadians, while generally accepting this view, have supplemented it with an imaginative version of a war in which their soldiers won great victories and forged a new national identity. Both of these approaches have served to promote literary, political, and cultural agendas of such power that empirical studies of what actually happened during the war have had little impact upon the historiography....

    • 3 Conscription in the Great War
      (pp. 62-75)

      I have been writing about conscription for more than forty years. I first touched the subject when I did my master’s degree at the University of Toronto in 1961–2 and looked at the Conservative Party’s misfortunes in the Second World War, misfortunes that arose out of its Great War policies and were compounded thanks to its views on manpower and Quebec in the 1939–45 war. That subject became my doctoral dissertation in 1966 and my first book,The Politics of Survival: The Conservative Party of Canada, 1939–1945(1967). From there I went on to writeCanada’s War:...

    • 4 Political Leadership in the First World War
      (pp. 76-95)

      Craig Brown is one of very few Canadian historians to address directly the subject of political leadership, and his analysis of Canadian leadership during the First World War is unsurpassed. In his 1980 article, ‘Fishwives, Plutocrats, Sirens and Other Curious Creatures: Questions about Political Leadership in Canada,’ Brown stressed that ‘perceptions of political leadership are like images in a hall of mirrors. They are partial, shifting, transitory.’¹ Writing at the early dawn of postmodernism and five years after the appearance of Paul Fussell’sThe Great War and Modern Memory, Brown considered the ways in which we construct our memory of...

    • 5 Against Isolationism: Napoléon Belcourt, French Canada, and ‘La grande guerre’
      (pp. 96-137)

      On 9 December 1914, when it was obvious that the ‘war to end all wars’ was not going to end as promised by Christmas, an unusual meeting of school trustees took place in Rockland, an Ontario town east of Ottawa in the County of Russell. After the usual shuffle,retrouvailles, and handshakes, Napoléon Desrosiers, the chairman of the local separate school board, called the meeting to order and asked the board secretary, a dapper gentleman named J.A. Lombard, if he was ready to proceed. The meeting was packed. People had things to say.

      A few people immediately commented about how...

    • 6 The Economic Impact of the Great War
      (pp. 138-154)

      In this essay I come to the question of the war and the economy from the perspective of a research program that revisits the larger narrative of Canadian economic history. A theme of that larger project, which the war nicely illustrates, is the power of established stories and images, which dominate understanding long after research has called them deeply into question. Such stories are most clearly visible in surveys, introductory texts, and popular accounts, but are also the explicit or implicit context for much specialized research. Even criticism, by reaffirming the importance of familiar themes, can reinforce them. That suggests...

  7. III The War at Home

    • 7 Mobilizing Women for War
      (pp. 157-193)

      This poetic rendition of women munitions workers during the First World War¹ was penned in the 1980s, reflecting more recent feminist aversion to the violent machinery of war as well as a healthy scepticism that women doing the drudgery of men’s work was automatically a sign of progress. A diametrically different portrayal appeared in the official history of munitions manufacture in Canada, written by an army colonel just after the war. In the few paragraphs on women in this long tribute to contracts, technology, and war, the author recounts a story to characterize the ‘development of [women workers’] moral sense...

    • 8 Supporting Soldiers’ Families: Separation Allowance, Assigned Pay, and the Unexpected
      (pp. 194-229)

      During the First World War, more than a fifth of the 619,586 men who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) were married. Others left orphaned children, elderly parents, and other dependants.¹ A few left families to rejoin other armies – British, French, Belgian, Serbian, Italian, even Russian – in which they had reserve obligations. Still others slipped back to Germany or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

      In earlier wars, soldiers’ families were often among the sad detritus of a campaign: women and children abandoned to the charity of family and friends, or camp followers at the mercy of weather or the fortunes of armies....

    • 9 Ontario and the Great War
      (pp. 230-271)

      The traditional rendering of Ontario as a province unified by the Great War cannot be dismissed as a mere caricature. ‘Rule Brittania’ did indeed reverberate in the streets of Woodstock and Berlin in the hours after Britain’s declaration of war against Germany. Crowds gathered around newspaper bulletin boards for the latest word from Europe. Male clerks, factory workers, miners, lumbermen, and university students lined up at recruiting offices in search of adventure, the opportunity to serve, and a little money in tight times. Veterans of the ill-fated expedition to relieve Gordon at Khartoum trained volunteers in Southampton’s town hall, while...

    • 10 Ethnic and Class Relations in Western Canada during the First World War: A Case Study of European Immigrants and Anglo-Canadian Nativism
      (pp. 272-299)

      The conventional wisdom holds that the years 1914–19 were a time of serious social and political disruption for Canada. But why was this the case? Was it because of the unique and devastating consequences of the Great War when Canada, a relatively small nation of 6 million people, suffered staggering battlefield losses on the Western Front? Or did the searing experience with total war only intensify already existing tensions and problems that divided Canadians on the basis of ethnicity, religion, class and region?¹

      In this chapter I attempt to address these questions in relation to one region – the Canadian...

    • 11 The Crusade for Science: Science and Technology on the Home Front, 1914–1918
      (pp. 300-322)

      In his presidential address to the Royal Society of Canada on the eve of the millennium in 1899, T.C. Keefer, civil engineer and transportation philosopher, predicted that Canada would have a magnificent second industrial revolution based on abundant, cheap hydroelectricity.¹ Keefer did not live to see his electrical utopia.² He died in January 1915, about a year after Henry Ford improved mass production with the moving assembly line. Just as Ford had revolutionized production, science applied to modern warfare in the form of the machine gun, high explosives, and poison gas, showed, as Carroll Pursell notes, ‘that death, too, could...

    • 12 Canada Invaded! The Great War, Mass Culture, and Canadian Cultural Nationalism
      (pp. 323-349)

      When he stepped to the podium to address the Canadian Club of Montreal in December 1913, B.K. Sandwell had a novel topic for his audience. They were used to hearing about pressing political issues – imperial unity, the tariff, labour unrest – not frivolities like the theatre. But the drama critic maintained that his beat was ‘a realm in which a vast and ever-increasing number of Canadians acquire a large part of their ideas and opinions.’ Unfortunately, the plays Canadians saw were selected by ‘two groups of gentlemen from New York City’ who had come to dominate the business over the previous...

    • 13 Eastern Approaches: Maritime Canada and Newfoundland
      (pp. 350-376)

      The people of Newfoundland and the Maritimes responded to the outbreak of the Great War in a fashion similar to Canadians elsewhere. Talk of war arose unexpectedly in late July 1914, and in the newspapers stories on the deteriorating European situation swept aside local politics, imperial affairs, and the ‘Irish problem.’ Even the rioting and violence that erupted during the street railwaymen’s strike in Saint John, New Brunswick, faded from public attention as ‘headlines concerning Sarajevo, the Kaiser, the British fleet, and Belgium drove Saint John’s labour troubles out of everyone’s mind.’¹ The outbreak of war sparked an outburst of...

  8. IV The Aftermath

    • 14 Canada and the Peace Settlements
      (pp. 379-408)

      In February 1919, when the great peace conference in Paris had been in session for almost a month, Sir Robert Borden, prime minister and leader of the Canadian delegation, had a rare interview with David Lloyd George, the British prime minister. An aide, probably Loring Christie from External Affairs, prepared anaide mémoire. It listed twelve subjects, some, such as Canada’s representation on the allied food board or the date of Borden’s departure for Canada, relatively small matters. Number six, however, dealt with a matter Borden had complained about frequently: ‘Proceedings of Conference. Arrangement of work. Delay.’ Canada cared deeply...

    • 15 Remembering Armageddon
      (pp. 409-434)

      It was 2 June 1919. The armistice had been concluded barely six months earlier; the peace treaty to end the Great War had not yet been signed. But on that sunny summer day, the people of Binscarth, Manitoba, came together to honour the eighteen men and one woman from the area who had given their lives in the war. They had chosen that day because on the first weekend in June 1916 the village had lost five of its young men, all killed in the bitter fighting around Sanctuary Wood. Three years later, they congregated before their memorial, a soldier...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 435-438)
  10. Index
    (pp. 439-452)