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Banner: From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History


Canadian Military History: An Overview
War of 1812
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South African War
First World War
Second World War


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First World War
General References

The War and Canadian Society

The Great War caused profound changes in Canadian society. For the first time, a mass, citizen army fought overseas as part of an alliance. The demands of that alliance for natural resources, foodstuffs and manufactured goods provided a great impetus to the Canadian economy. At the same time, the hunger of the alliance's military machine for Canadian personnel led to labour shortages, the growth of trade unionism, the employment of women and, in nearly every community, homes where a family member was buried overseas. The return of a procession of wounded and maimed men, as early as 1916, created tensions within the social fabric. The demonization of the enemy through propaganda led to discrimination against the many newcomers from central Europe and the descendants of earlier immigrants. The works by Buitenhuis, Keshen and McKegney, as well as Karen Ann Reyburn's thesis, which is listed in the Women in the War section, examine the role of propaganda in Canadian society during the war.

The Great War and Canadian society was compiled when oral history dealing with this period was still just possible. Jonathan Vance's excellent book uses an intellectual history approach to study some of the same questions. Thomas Socknat's work demonstrates that not all Canadians shared a common vision regarding the war.

The works by Armstrong and Ruck outline the experience of Blacks in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the war. Roy Ito, in We went to war and Lubomyr Luciuk, in his A time of atonement, listed in the section on Prisoners of War and Internment, define the positions of two other ethnic groups. Dempsey and Gaffen investigate aspects of the First Nations war experience.

Armstrong, John Griffith. -- "The unwelcome sacrifice : a Black unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1917-1919". -- Ethnic armies : polyethnic armed forces from the time of the Hapsburgs to the age of the superpowers. -- Edited by N.F. Dreiziger. -- Waterloo, Ont. : Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 1990. -- P. 178-197

Bartholomew, Robert F. -- "Phantom German air raids on Canada : war hysteria in Quebec and Ontario during the Great War". -- Canadian military history. -- Vol. 7, no. 4 (Autumn 1998). -- P. 29-36

Bray, Robert Matthew. -- "'Fighting as an ally' : the English-Canadian patriotic response to the Great War". -- Canadian historical review. -- Vol. 61, no. 2 (June 1980). -- P. 141-168

Buitenhuis, Peter. -- The great war of words : British, American and Canadian propaganda and fiction, 1914-1933. -- Vancouver : Univ. of British Columbia Press, 1987. -- 199 p.

Coutard, Jérôme. -- "Presse, censure et propagande en 1914-1918 : la construction d'une culture de guerre". -- Bulletin d'histoire politique. -- Vol 8, no 2-3 (hiver/printemps 2000). -- P. 150-171

Dempsey, L. James. -- Warriors of the King : Prairie Indians in World War I. -- Regina : Canadian Plains Research Center, Univ. of Regina, 1999. -- 123 p.

Gaffen, Fred. -- Forgotten soldiers. -- Penticton, B.C. : Theytus Books, 1985. -- 152 p.

  • Canada's native peoples in both World Wars.

The Great War and Canadian society : an oral history. -- Edited by Daphne Read. -- Toronto : New Hogtown Press, 1978. -- 223 p.

Gwyn, Sandra. -- Tapestry of war : a private view of Canadians in the Great War. -- Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers, 1992. -- 552 p.

Ito, Roy. -- We went to war : the story of the Japanese Canadians who served during the First and Second World Wars. -- Stittsville, Ont. : Canada's Wings, 1984. -- 330 p.

Keshen, Jeffrey. -- Propaganda and censorship during Canada's Great War. -- Edmonton : Univ. of Alberta Press, 1996. -- 333 p.

McKegney, Patricia P. -- The Kaiser's bust : a study of war-time propaganda in Berlin, Ontario, 1914-1918. -- Wellesley, Ont. : Bamberg Press, 1991. -- [287] p. -- (Bamberg heritage series, no. 2)

  • Originally presented as the author's M.Phil. thesis, Univ. of Waterloo, 1980.

  • Includes a chapter on the difficulties of recruiting the 118th Battalion, CEF

Ruck, Calvin W. -- Canada's black battalion : No. 2 Construction, 1916-1920. -- Halifax : Society for the Protection and Preservation of Black Culture in Nova Scotia, 1986. -- 143 p.

Sharpe, C.A. -- "Enlistment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1918 : a regional analysis". -- Journal of Canadian studies = Revue d'études canadiennes. -- Vol. 18, no. 4 (Winter 1983/1984). -- P. 15-29

Socknat, Thomas Paul. -- Witness against war : pacifism in Canada, 1900-1945. -- Toronto : Univ. of Toronto Press, 1987. -- 370 p.

Vance, Jonathan F. -- Death so noble : memory, meaning and the First World War. -- Vancouver : UBC Press, 1997. -- 319 p.

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