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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
Rebellions of 1837 and 1838
Northwest Campaign
South African War
First World War
Second World War


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First World War
Art, Music and Literature

Fiction and Poetry

Canada's First World War experience did not produce a novel of the magnitude of Erich Maria Remarque's All quiet on the western front or of Stephen Crane's The red badge of courage. An outstanding novel of the period, Barometer rising by Hugh MacLennan, is more a novel of Halifax and of the explosion, than of the wider questions of the war. Timothy Findley's The wars, a much more recent work, speaks of some of the challenges facing the fighting soldiers. "In Flanders Fields" by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, is the best-known English poem of the war, although some recent readers have found the lines propagandistic.

Roch Carrier's first major novel, La guerre, yes sir!, a study of English- and French-Canadian attitudes in Quebec at the time of the conscription crisis, is perhaps the most important work of literature in French relating to the war and was equally well-received in English translation.

Paul Fussell in his landmark work The Great War and modern memory (New York : Oxford Univ. Press, 1975) examines English-language literature, not primarily Canadian, to understand how society has come to understand the First World War. Using some of the same techniques, Jonathan Vance in Death so noble, listed in The War and Canadian Society section, has provided a full discussion of Canadian fiction of the First World War.

Acland, Peregrine. -- All else is folly : a tale of war and passion. -- Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1929. -- 345 p.

Bird, Will R. -- And we go on. -- Toronto : Hunter, Rose, 1930. -- 343 p.

Canadian poems of the Great War. -- Chosen and edited by John W. Garvin. -- Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1918. -- 256 p. -- Also reproduced in microform format: CIHM microfiche series, no. 71516

* Carrier, Roch. -- La guerre, yes sir! -- Translated by Sheila Fischman. -- Toronto : Anansi, 1970. -- 113 p. -- Also published in French under the title: La guerre , yes sir! : roman

  • Investigates French-English relations during the conscription crisis in Quebec.

  • Adapted as a stage play in French in 1970 and in English in 1972.

Child, Philip. -- God's sparrows. -- London : Butterworth, 1937.

  • Republished, with an introduction by Dennis Duffy. -- Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1978. -- 325 p.

Colombo, John Robert ; Richardson, Michael, [comps.] -- We stand on guard : poems and songs of Canadians in battle. -- [S.l. : s.n.], 1985. -- P. 85-127

Connor, Ralph. -- The Major. -- Toronto : McClelland, Goodchild and Stewart, 1917. -- 383 p. -- Also reproduced in microform format: CIHM microfiche series, no. 78857

  • Ralph Connor was the pen name of Charles William Gordon, a pre-war novelist and CEF chaplain. His wartime works were not as popular as his western novels.

____. -- The sky pilot in No Man's Land. -- Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1919. -- 349 p.

* Findley, Timothy. -- The wars. -- Toronto : Clarke, Irwin, 1977. -- 226 p. -- Also published in French under the title: Guerres : roman

  • Many subsequent editions in both English and French. Also translated into Spanish and Danish.

Harrison, Charles Yale. -- Generals die in bed. -- London : N. Douglas, 1930. -- 249 p.

  • American edition: New York : Morrow, 1930. Many subsequent editions.

Jack, Donald. -- Three cheers for me : the journals of Bartholomew Bandy, R.F.C. -- New York : Macmillan, 1962. -- 274 p.

  • A humorous fictional memoir of a Canadian pilot. Subsequent volumes, That's me in the middle; It's me again, etc., trace Bandy's career through the remainder of the First World War, the Allied intervention in Russia and into barnstorming in the 1920s. Soft-cover editions were also published, in some cases with different titles.

* MacLennan, Hugh. -- Barometer rising. -- New York : Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1941. -- 326 p. -- Also published in French under the title: Le temps tournera au beau: roman

Novak, Dagmar. -- Dubious glory : the two World Wars and the Canadian novel. -- New York : P. Long, 2000. -- 174 p. -- (Studies in world literature in English, v. 9)

Thompson, Eric. -- "Canadian fiction of the Great War". -- Canadian literature. -- No. 91 (Winter 1981). -- P. 81-96

  • This issue of Canadian literature also includes an interview with Timothy Findley and a discussion of The wars.

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