Militia Myths: Ideas of the Canadian Citizen Soldier, 1896-1921

Overview

The image of farmers and workers called to the colours endures in Canada’s social memory of the First World War. But is the ideal of being a citizen first and a soldier only by necessity as recent as our histories and memories suggest?

Militia Myths brings to light a military culture that consistently employed the citizen soldier as its foremost symbol, but was otherwise in a state of profound transition. At the time of Confederation, the defence of Canada itself represented the...

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Overview

The image of farmers and workers called to the colours endures in Canada’s social memory of the First World War. But is the ideal of being a citizen first and a soldier only by necessity as recent as our histories and memories suggest?

Militia Myths brings to light a military culture that consistently employed the citizen soldier as its foremost symbol, but was otherwise in a state of profound transition. At the time of Confederation, the defence of Canada itself represented the country’s only real obligation to the British Empire, but by the early twentieth century Canadians were already fighting an imperial war in South Africa. In 1914, they began raising an army to fight on the Western Front. By the end of the First World War, the ideological transition was complete: for better or for worse, the untrained civilian who had answered the call-to-arms in 1914 replaced the long-serving volunteer militiaman of the past as the archetypical Canadian citizen soldier.

Militia Myths traces the evolution of a uniquely Canadian amateur military tradition -- one that has had an enormous impact on the country’s experience of the First and Second World Wars.

Published in association with the Canadian War Museum.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This is a must-have book in Canadian military and social history, representing both fields at their very best. Wood sets the record straight on one of the most discussed but nonetheless little known concepts in our history: the militia myth. For the first time, we have a real and compelling understanding of what was once demonized in our history - the idea of being a citizen first and a soldier if necessary.
- Roch Legault, co-editor of Loyal Service: Perspectives on French-Canadian Military Leaders

Militia Myths is an engaging and important book. It revises our understanding of military professionalism in the early twentieth century. Wood shows the distinction between amateur and professional soldiers in modern warfare to be more complex than we have come to believe. His work is sure to stimulate further study of the pre-1914 period and the impact of the Great War on Canada's armed forces.
- Andrew Iarocci, author of Shoestring Soldiers: The 1st Canadian Division at War, 1914-15

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780774817653
  • Publisher: University of British Columbia Press
  • Publication date: 4/27/2010
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

James Wood teaches history at the University of Victoria and is the author of We Move Only Forward: Canada, the United States, and the First Special Service Force, 1942-44 and Army of the West: The Weekly Reports of German Army Group B from Normandy to the West Wall.

University of Washington Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Canadian Ideas of the Citizen Soldier

1 A Military Spirit in Canada, 1896-98

2 An Army for Empire, 1898-1901

3 "Don't Call Me Tommy," 1901-04

4 "Who Are You Going to Fight?" 1905-08

5 Continental Commitments, 1909-11

6 Involuntary Action, 1911-14

7 War and Citizenship, 1914-17

8 Victory and Vindication, 1918-21

Conclusion: A Citizen's Duty in "Canada'sCentury"

Appendices

Notes

Bibliography

Index

University of Washington Press

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