The Great War in Canadian Political Thought: Nationalism, Britishness, and Empire, 1914-1919

  • LA200 11 Devonshire Place Toronto, ON, M5S 2C9 Canada

Part of the Contemporary International History Graduate Research Forum

Date: Monday, November 24, 2014
Time: 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Location: LA200, Larkin Building

Title: The Great War in Canadian Political Thought: Nationalism, Britishness, and Empire, 1914-1919

The First World War is commonly regarded as an event that affirmed Canadian nationalism and independence from the British empire. But did Canadian intellectuals truly believe that participation in the European war meant the end of their British connection? Drawing on the published works and private papers of three leading political journalists – John Willison of the Toronto News and the London Times, John Dafoe of the Manitoba Free Press, and Henri Bourassa of Le Devoir – this paper explores the impact of imperialism, ideology, and identity on their respective views of the Great War. While they disagreed about the future of the British empire, none believed that the war demanded a choice between Canadian nationalism and the political networks and values that constituted the ‘British world.’ This paper examines their arguments and debates to demonstrate how Canada’s Great War was defined, not only in the mud of Flanders, but by conflict at home over the ideas of nationalism, Britishness, and empire.

Speaker: Graeme Thompson, DPhil Candidate, Faculty of History, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University

Interested in presenting your work as part of the Graduate Research Forum? Contact susie.colbourn@mail.utoronto.ca for more information.

Photo credit: Library and Archives Canada (MIKAN No. 3522713)