The First World War in a Canadian Town

Reviewed by Joel Trono-Doerksen

Posted January 16, 2020

In his book Wartime, Edward Butts writes about the experience of Guelph, Ontario, during the First World War as well as specific events that occurred in the city. Those events include a riot by students from the Ontario Agriculture College, a highly controversial military police raid on a Catholic seminary, and an attack on socialist organizers speaking out against the war

Butts calls the raid on the seminary “an explosive controversy that would hit the front pages of newspapers from Halifax to Victoria.” This event in a relatively small city furthered the divide between Catholics and Protestants throughout the country.

The author of more than twenty books on Canadian history, Butts has won several awards for his writing. Wartime received the Ontario Historical Society’s J.J. Talman Award in 2019, and in this book he weaves personal narratives with larger historical themes. Although it is about the wartime experiences of one city, the book offers valuable insights into the country as a whole during one of its worst calamities.

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This article originally appeared in the February-March 2020 issue of Canada’s History.

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