Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – 10th Battalion, Old City Hall, Calgary

The 10th Battalion, created in 1914 as an infantry battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, was amongst the first Canadian contingents to sail for the UK in 1914. Recruits were largely from Calgary and other parts of Alberta. Continue reading


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Vimy

With the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge fast approaching, it seemed to be a good time to delve into Vimy, Pierre Berton’s popular account of the Canadian exploits to capture a strategic spot on the Western Front.

Berton set out “to tell not just what happened but also what it was like.” (Author’s note, p 313) He interviewed survivors and combed through old diaries, memoirs, letters, newspaper accounts and oral histories. The result is a lively account of Easter Monday, 9 April 1917 – when the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first (and only) time – the events leading to it and the mopping up afterwards. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Soldier Honouring the Fallen, Soldiers’ Tower, Toronto

April 9-12 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, part of the Battle of Arras. On a snowy Easter Monday in 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first (and only) time. Training and tactics won the ridge, but at the cost of about 3,600 Canadian lives. Continue reading


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Tapestry of War

Sandra Gwyn’s Tapestry of War: A Private View of Canadians in the Great War is a gossipy, luscious social history, seen through the eyes of several Canadians who had ringside seats or a view further back from the action.

Our guides were chosen from a variety of vantage points on the basis of their diaries and letters, not necessarily because their importance in the war effort. Gwyn jumps from one person to another, from Ottawa to London to the Western Front, intricately weaving the tales. Some are more interesting than others, but all have a purpose. Continue reading


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Remembered in Bronze and Stone – Canada’s Great War Memorial Statuary

Early in my days of researching monuments for Great War 100 Reads, I discovered Alan Livingstone MacLeod’s albums on Flickr. Beautiful photos documenting WW1 monuments across Canada, and a good source in trying to sort out Emanuel Hahn’s work from the imitations. So I am delighted to find that he has written a book featuring his photos, Remembered in Bronze and Stone, published in November 2016. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cenotaph Park, Priceville, ON

Travelling on County Road 4 between Durham and Flesherton in Grey County, turn onto Kincardine St in the village of Priceville to find Cenotaph Park. A soldier stands over a grave marker of logs encircled by a laurel wreath and with poppies growing at the base. The marble statue stands on a granite plinth. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Col William Campbell MacDonald, St James Cathedral, Toronto

Each soldier tells a story.

A front page headline in the 22 January 1917 issue of the Toronto Globe declared: “Popular Officer Killed, Four People Injured, at Toronto Station … Col WC MacDonald Killed by Light Engine … Shocking Accident at Union Station after Departure of Troop Train.” Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Memorial Church, Vancouver … Part 1

At the corner of W 15th Ave and Burrard St stands the Canadian Memorial Church and Centre for Peace, built as a memorial to Canadians who fought and died in WW1 … and as a ministry for peace and an end to war.

The Gothic revival church features several memorial elements, historical events and Christian symbolism: Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – T Eaton Company Memorial Plaque, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa

Happy Boxing Day … a day for shopping or giving. Eaton’s department store embodied both during WW1. The Eaton family and company contributed to the war effort in many ways: it delivered on military contracts at cost and John Eaton gave $100,000 to outfit a mobile unit known as the Eaton’s Machine Gun Battery, to name two examples. The company also paid the wages of its employees who enlisted … full pay for married men, half pay for single men. Over 3000 employees enlisted, of whom 315 died. Each enlisting employee’s photo was displayed in the store. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Westinghouse Company employees, Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, ON

Today is Labour Day in Canada and the US – a day to celebrate workers. Like other groups in society, many companies saw fit to memorialize their employees who had served in the war.

For much of the 20th century, Westinghouse was one of the largest employers in Hamilton. Its plaque “to the memory of the employees of the Canadian Westinghouse Company Limited, who gave their lives in the war against Germany and her allies” is in a shady corner of Hamilton Cemetery. Sixty-five names are listed. The tablet “further commemorates the services of 712 other employees of the company, their comrades-in-arms, who fought for King and country.” Continue reading