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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

General References

Government and the Military

Troops and Traditions

Personal Stories

Aboriginal Peoples

Multicultural Communities


Art, Music and Literature


Web Research
Second World War
Troops and Traditions


The authors have included the English edition of works if they are available in both French and English. Items marked with an asterisk (*) are known to be available in French. Most titles included in this guide are held by Library and Archives Canada, and many are available for interlibrary loan, both within Canada and abroad.

The War at Sea

The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was the smallest of the three Canadian services in the Second World War, so small at the war's outbreak that it was intended for nothing more than coastal defence. By war's end, the RCN numbered more that 94,000 personnel and operated 211 warships larger than minesweepers. Its chief contribution was the protection of convoys of merchant ships from U-boat attack in the Battle of the Atlantic. The very rapid rate of expansion of the Navy, however, was accompanied by problems in performance, which were initially commented upon by British authors.

The first volume of a new official history of the Navy was scheduled to be published in 2002. The second volume of the previous, incomplete, official history, Gilbert Tucker's The Naval Service of Canada, deals with naval policy, shipbuilding, training, and other shore activities in the Second World War. When the proposed third volume, to cover operations at sea, was cancelled, the Department of National Defence commissioned Joseph Schull to write a popular history. The Far Distant Ships was for many years the only operational account until the publication of Marc Milner's critical history North Atlantic Run(cited under "The War at Sea - The Battle of the Atlantic"), and the publication of the two books of essays edited by James Boutilier and W.A.B. Douglas. Young historians have contributed much since that time to our understanding of naval operations, but their work has been in the form of articles and theses, some of which are listed here. See also David Zimmerman's The Great Naval Battle of Ottawa under "Science and the War" in the General References section, for a history of the technological challenges facing the Navy in its wartime expansion.

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