Montreal at War 1914 – 1918 is the work of historian Terry Copp, Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University and Alexander Maavara, a graduate student at Laurier who is responsible for the design and administration of the website. Copp is the author of The Anatomy of Poverty The Condition of the Working Class in Montreal 1897-1929 (Toronto 1974), which was translated as Class Ouvriere et Pauvreté (Montreal 1978). Copp also wrote a number of articles on social and labour history before changing direction to study the operation of the Canadian army in Normandy and Northwest Europe 1944-45.
The project began as an attempt to write a book on the overall Canadian experience of the war inspired by Adrian Gregory’s brilliant work on Britain, The Last Great War. I used Gregory’s book in a third year course asking students to develop research questions that could be tested using Canadian sources. Most of a class of forty were engaged by the assignment producing valuable research papers on who joined the army and why. The decision to change the focus to Montreal would come to seem logical in retrospect as I had grown up there and begun my academic career teaching in and writing about the city. In fact the idea developed as a result of the influence of two of my students, Geoff Keelan, who wrote his MA and PHD theses on Henri Bourassa and Brendan O’Driscoll who studied with Elsbeth Heaman and Susanne Morton at McGill. Brendan’s research on aspects of Montreal history, especially a Master’s paper on Mount Royal Park and on the funeral of Arthur Currie reawakened my interest in the city and the sources available for the war years. Brendan subsequently provided important research assistance and commentary. At the request of the editors of the Canadian Historical Review Terry Copp wrote an autobiographical essay which is available here.
Presenting the story of Montreal at War in an online format has allowed us to add photographs, maps and other illustrations and to provide direct live links to documents, articles and theses as well as websites that complement the work. We are also able to update the website through the “Notes and Comments” section and to invite readers to join the discussion with questions, their own views and suggested links. Either official language may be used.
This project has continued to challenge my ability to understand and synthesize the availiable sources and would not be possible without the assistance of Alexander Maavara who serves as my senior Research Assistant as well as the designer of the website. Others who made important contributions in the earlier stages of research include Caleb Burney, Mike Kelly, Garison Ma, Anastasia Pivnicki, Eric Vero and Ariadne Woodword.
Montreal at War 1914 – 1918 is part of the ongoing research of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada through a Social Science and Humanities Research Council grant for the Through Veterans Eye’s project. We wish to thank Dr. Mark Humphries, Director of LCMSDS for his support of our work, though we alone are responsible for errors and interpretation.