Ottawa 2019: War Museum hosts conference on the legacy of the First World War

Canadian soldiers celebrate during the 100 Days. Photo George Metcalf Archival Collection. 
Canadian War Museum
Image colourized by Canadian Colour

The 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 did not end the impact of the First World War.

That impact was felt not just in Europe but around the world and Canada was not immune. The country was emerging from its colonial status as a dominion of the British Empire, but there was also upheaval politically and socially in the country.

The Canadian War Museum will begin a discussion of those momentous changes in Canada and beyond with a major conference called Canada 1919: A Country Shaped by War on Jan. 17 to 19.

Kicking off the weekend will be a keynote address on Jan. 17 by one of the country’s most famous — and most read — historians, Margaret MacMillan. Her book Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed The World on the Versailles Peace Conference, in which the victors allies set the terms of the peace on the defeated Germans, Austrian and Turks, was a major international bestseller.

The goal is that this 2019 conference “will deepen our understanding of the conflict and its repercussions, as well as a legacy that continues to reverberate across Canada and around the world,” said James Whitham, the acting director general of the Museum, in a media release.

The conference will hear papers presented on topics such as the return of Indigenous veterans, the conflict’s impact on French Canada, the contributions of nurses, the impact of war on families and children, the challenges of forging peace from the ashes of war and the legacy of the war that continues to today.

• Military historian David Bercuson will discuss the role of veterans in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

• Norman Hillmer will discuss expanded Canadian autonomy and independence in 1919.

• Military historian Jeff Keshen on the expansion of federal power during the First World War.

• Michael Neiberg, who is the chair of War Studies at the U.S. Army War College, will talk about the wartime legacy that continues to shape the world today.

• Catriona Pennell of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom will explore the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the roles played by Britain and France.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.