Canadian Battlefields 1915–1918
A Visitor’s Guide
Most of the world remembers the First World War as a time when, as historian Samuel Hynes put it, “innocent young men, their heads full of high abstractions like Honour, Glory, and England . .. were slaughtered in stupid battles planned by stupid Generals. ” English-speaking Canadians have for the most part accepted this view and supplemented it with an imaginative version of a war in which their soldiers won great victories and forged a new national identity. Both approaches have served to promote literary, political, and cultural agendas of such power that empirical studies of actual wartime events have had little impact on the historiography. A new generation of scholars has challenged those approaches, however, insisting that the reality of the war and the society that produced it are worthy of study.
This guide to the Canadian battlefields in France and Belgium offers a brief critical history of the war and of Canada’s contribution, drawing attention to the best recent books on the subject. It focuses on the Ypres Salient, Passchendaele, Vimy, and the “Hundred Day”s battles and considers lesser-known battlefields as well. Battle maps, contemporary maps, photographs, war art, and tourist information enhance the reader experience.
``Like any good history book, Canadian Battlefields 1915–1918 had fine researchers working on it: Terry Copp, director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, and Matt Symes and Nick Lachance, who are history students at Laurier. But unlike most books, the authors decided to use Google Earth satellite images of the battle sites to help readers gain a better understanding of the battlefields and the campaigns that occurred on them. ... The three authors deserve credit not just for putting this book together but for thinking of such a creative way to let readers feel they are at the battle scenes even if they are thousands of kilometres away. ''- The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo), November 9, 2011
``Professor Terry Copp is synonymous with countless highly regarded publications on Canada's involvement in our last century at war. The resources available to him as founder of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies and the assistance from team members on this project, Matt Symes and Nick Lachance, has produced Canada's latest and possibly most valuable general guide to the Canadian battlefields of the Western Front. ... Matt Symes and Nick Lachance have done an admirable job in providing photos of many of these sites as they sit today and the navigation routes through each region are well put together, an obvious sign of painstaking research and attention to detail. ... Armed with the knowledge of Canada's first involvement in Flanders to the Last Hundred Days, combined with the assembled modern day information of GPS, Google Maps, suggested regional lodgings, detailed driving directions, website references and contacts, photographs from today and yesterday, Canadian Battlefields 1915–1918 has succeeded in moving the battlefield guide to a standalone level, a remarkable feat in a market saturated with guidebooks for the modern day battlefield explorer. ''- Glenn Kerr, The Maple Leaf, Autumn 2012