Past Speakers

First World War British Imperial Defence | Thursday Jan. 18th, 7 pm at the Guelph Civic Museum

Alexander Maavara, Wilfrid Laurier Univeristy

How did modern nations deal with the carnage and bloodshed that came with the First World War? Alexander Maavara discusses these issue in his presentation on the Origins of the British Home Front: The Invasion Scare of 1914.

Alec Maavara is a student research assistant at LCMSDS. He is currently studying for his Masters in history at Wilfrid Laurier University, with a specialization in First World War British civil defence policy.






Legacies of US Cold War Policies: The Quest for Justice in the Marshall Islands | Wednesday Jan. 24th, 7 pm at LCMSDS

Martha Smith-Norris, University of Saskatchewan 

In the race against the Soviet Union for nuclear supremacy during the Cold War, the United States tested a vast array of powerful nuclear bombs and missiles in the Marshall Islands while conducting studies on the effects of human exposure to radioactive fallout. Based on extensive archival research, Smith-Norris will discuss the health and environmental consequences of these American policies and the Marshall Islanders’ ongoing quest for justice in Washington and the United Nations.

Martha Smith-Norris is a Cold War historian with an interest in US foreign policies in the Asia Pacific region. An Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan, she is the author of Domination and Resistance: The United States and the Marshall Islands during the Cold War (University of Hawaii Press, 2016). Her current research project is a study of the relationship between Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, the Nation State, and the Environment.


The Canadian Corps at Passchendaele 100 Years On | Wednesday Feb. 7th, 7 pm at LCMSDS

Mark Humphries, Laurier Centre for Military Strategic & Disarmament Studies

 For more than a century, Passchendaele has been the battle which best captures the horrors and futility of the Great War. Yet the Canadian role in this pivotal fight has strangely received little attention. Professor Humphries re-examines the battle using British, Canadian and German sources to try and understand why Canadians fought there and what the battle tells us about the state of Sir Arthur Currie’s Canadian Corps at the end of 1917.Mark Humphries is the Director of the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies and the Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience at Wilfrid Laurier  University. He has published five books and more than a dozen articles on the medical, social, and operational history of the Great War. His most recent book is The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada (UTP, 2013), he is in the final stages of a monograph on shell-shock during the war.


A Plague of Diseased Soldiers | Thursday Feb. 15th, 7 pm at the Guelph Civic Museum
Lyndsay Rosenthal, Wilfrid Laurier University

Venereal disease became a problem for the Canadian Expeditionary Force soon after they arrived in England. While VD was initially treated as a moral problem, the military was forced to treat it as a medical problem when the punitive polices aimed at controlling sexual behaviours failed to address the problem. To combat the disease, the C.E.F. implement a VD management system that focused on prevention and treatment. This paper will explore the evolution this system by examining the creation Etchinghill VD hospital, the controversy over 606 treatments and the debate surrounding demobilization.

Lyndsay Rosenthal completed her BA through Athabasca University in partnership with Mount Royal University and her MA at Memorial University where she examined the experiences of shell-shocked veterans in the interwar period. Since September 2014 she has been pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Mark Humphries at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her current research on sexuality in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).



The (Royal) Flying Canadian: Eddie McKay and Early Air Warfare, 1915–16  | Wednesday March 14th, 7 pm at LCMSDS

Graham Broad, King’s College, Western University

In late 1915, Eddie McKay of London, Ontario became one of the first Canadians to join the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Using McKay’s experience as a lens, early pilot training in the RFC and the development of aerial tactics during the Battle of the Somme in 1916 will be explored and assessed.

Graham Broad is an Associate Professor of History at King’s University College at Western University. He is the author of two books, A Small Price to Pay: Consumer Culture on the Canadian Home Front, 1939-1945 (UBC Press, 2013) and One in a Thousand: The Life and Death of Captain Eddie McKay, Royal Flying Corps (UTP, 2017).


Underground at Vimy | Thursday Mar. 22nd, 7 pm at the Guelph Civic Museum

Katrina Pasierbek, WIlfirid Laurier University 

Katrina Pasierbek began her doctoral studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2016 under the supervision of Dr. Mark Humphries. Her research focuses on First World War battlefield tourism throughout the interwar period. Working alongside Eliza Richardson, Katrina oversees digital content for the Laurier Military History Archives.

Katrina graduated with a BA (Hons.) from King’s University College and earned her BEd and MA from Western University. Before joining LCMSDS, Katrina worked in the museum and heritage field as an education coordinator and exhibit researcher. Most notably, her research is featured in Canadigm’s “Souterrain Impressions,” a First World War exhibit currently touring Canada.




“We are very lonely without him:” Children and Families in Canada’s Great War | Wednesday Apr. 11th, 7 pm at LCMSDS

Kristine Alexander, University of Lethbridge

For tens of thousands of Canadian families, the First World War was a moment of rupture. Like their counterparts around the world, Canadian soldiers and the loved ones they left behind used written correspondence to try to maintain their relationships and understand the war’s effects on their lives. This presentation will analyze the letters exchanged between members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and their parents, siblings, sweethearts, wives, and children to assess the material and emotional effects of total war on Canadian young people and families.

Dr. Kristine Alexander is Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Lethbridge. She is the current Director of the U of L’s Institute for Child and Youth Studies. Her research seeks to improve our understanding of young people, colonialism, and war in the early twentieth century. She is the author of a number of articles and chapters, as well as the monograph Guiding Modern Girls: Girlhood, Empire, and Internationalism in the 1920s and 1930s (UBC Press, 2017). Her current book project is a study of Canadian families and letter writing during the First World War.


Terry Copp, Wilfrid Laurier University 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 7 pm

Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster hit Dunkirk arrived in Canadian theaters this summer, depicting the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and Allied forces at Dunkirk in the spring of 1940. Terry will speak about the historical context of the battle and the consequences of the Dunkirk evacuation.


Terry Copp is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at Wilfrid Laurier University. Terry’s recent publications include Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe (UTP, 2006) and Fields of Fire: The Canadians in Normandy (UTP, 2003). His Paper “Towards a New Balance Sheet: 21 Army Group in Normandy” published in John Buckley (ed.) Normandy Sixty Years On (Frank Cass, 2006) extends his revisionist approach to military history to the British army in the Second World War.

The Canadian Defence Academy commissioned Guy Simonds and the Art of Command for publication in early 2007 and Combat Stress in the 20th Century: The Commonwealth Experience for 2010, coauthored with Mark Humphries.

Terry also authored No Price Too High: Canadians and the Second World War which led to the acclaimed television series No Price Too High where he was the lead military historian.


Colonel (Ret’d) Patrick M. Dennis, OMM, CD

Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 7 pm

“What stubborn-hearted virtues they disguised!” Canadian Conscripts at War – 1918  

In this the centenary of compulsory service in Canada, “Canadian conscripts at War” will provide an overview of the principal events leading up to this historic and controversial legislation, followed by a brief examination of the vital contribution made by conscripts during the Hundred Days. The subject has long been obscured by myth and by inaccurate or incomplete history. Many of these myths will be directly addressed in this presentation.

Professor Jack Granatstein once wrote: “Precisely how many conscripted men saw action remains unclear, and we have no firm sense of whether these unwilling soldiers performed well in action.” As will become evident in this presentation, we now have a much clearer idea about both of these issues.


A former Fighter Controller in the Canadian Air Force, he served abroad for over 22 years. Apart from senior staff tours, he flew with both NORAD and NATO AWACS, was Canada’s Deputy Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee and the Canadian Defence Attaché to Israel from 2001- 2004. Subsequently he lectured on “global political-military issues” at Wilfrid Laurier University (2008 – 2011) and from 2009-2013 was an instructor in Command and Management with the Canadian Forces College, Toronto.

A graduate of the United States Armed Forces Staff College (Norfolk, Virginia) and the NATO Defence College (Rome, Italy), he has an M.A. in Communication and Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado.


Geoffrey Hayes

Wednesday, 8 November 2017, 7 pm

Reinventing Canada’s Junior Officer Corps: From Passchendaele to Normandy

Geoffrey Hayes’ talk will explore the changing face of Canadian military leadership between the two world wars. What changed? What remained the same? Did the First World War bring an end to heroic leadership?
Geoffrey Hayes is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University (BA/MA) and is currently an associate professor of History at the University of Waterloo. He is the author the Lincs: A History of the Lincoln and Welland RegimentWaterloo County: An Illustrated History, as well as the co-editor of Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment and Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp.


Meghan Fitzpatrick

Wednesday, 6 December 2017, 7 pm

The Human Cost of War: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in Korea, 1950-1953

Marred by war and violence, the history of the twentieth century is one of trauma. The Korean War (1950-1953) was a ferocious and brutal conflict that produced over four million casualties. It also represents one of the largest deployments of Canadians in the past hundred years. Throughout the war, psychiatric casualties accounted for one in twenty sick or wounded Commonwealth soldiers. In doing their duty, many of these men would bear permanent scars.

Historian and author Meghan Fitzpatrick investigates the human impact of the “forgotten war.” This talk will examine how the Commonwealth cared for the psychologically wounded in theatre and assess how successful doctors were in returning servicemen to duty. Based on her recently published book, Meghan will explore the challenges that veterans of politically unpopular or neglected conflicts like Korea face in accessing compensation and care. She will also reflect upon how the Korean War experience can inform contemporary policy and underline salutary lessons for the future.


Dr. Meghan Fitzpatrick is a SSHRC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in War Studies with the Royal Military College of Canada. Her recently published book with the University of British Columbia Press is entitled Invisible Scars: Mental Trauma and the Korean War (2017). She is presently working on a project exploring the history of the Canadian military’s research on psychological resilience and adaptability.


Terry Copp, Wilfrid Laurier University
22 March 2017

“The Irish Canadian Rangers, 1916-1917”

Montreal’s Irish Canadian Rangers began official recruiting on Easter Monday 1916, the same day as the start of the Easter Uprising in Dublin. Their commanding officer Lieut Colonel Henry Trihey was famous in the city and country for his exploits with the Montreal Shamrocks leading them to two turn-of-the-century Stanley Cups. Both Trihey and the Irish community supported John Redmond and Home Rule for Ireland, and continued to seek volunteers throughout the summer and early fall of 1916. Arriving in England, they were sent to Ireland on a tour designed to influence the ongoing discussions over the future of Ireland. Trihey, who had been told the battalion was to be broken up for reinforcements, resigned and returned to Canada. Three months later the 199th Irish Canadian Rangers were absorbed into a reserve battalion and were used to reinforce units that had suffered losses at Vimy. Terry Copp will “unpack” this story and offer insights into both Irish and Irish Canadian history.



Mary Chaktsiris, Wilfrid Laurier University
15 February 2017

“Toronto, Urban Space, and the Great War, 1914-1918”

In Toronto during the First World War there were spectacles to be seen and obstacles to avoid. The war was viewed by some as a call to arms, a possibility for adventure, and an opportunity to distinguish the Dominion on a world stage. Yet the war was also inconvenient, divisive, and brought with it a war effort that disrupted daily life. Over four years of war the city’s landscape changed as its urban geography shifted to war work: its boulevards became parade routes, its parks used for ceremonies of mourning and remembrance, its exhibition grounds used to train troops and jail suspected enemy aliens. Based on original archival research, this talk will explore how different strands of the war effort – including sentiments of belonging, acceptance, resistance, and frustration – crossed and became entangled within Toronto during the war years.


Dr. Mary Chaktsiris is the Cleghorn Fellow in War & Society at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research interests include gender, the First World War, social policy, and commemoration. Her ongoing research explores the experiences of Canadian First World War veterans in the years and decades after the Great War through newly digitized Veteran’s Pension files at the LCMSDS. She has published research findings in peer-reviewed journals including Social History/Histoire Sociale, serves as an editor with the website’s First World War blog series, and was the recipient of a student-nominated teaching award from Queen’s University.



Alex Souchen, Wilfrid Laurier University
25 January 2017

“Tools of Peace: Munitions Disposal and Postwar Reconstruction in Canada, 1943-1948”

During the Second World War, Canada mobilized unprecedented levels of industrial production and munitions procurement. By 1945, Canadian factories had equipped the nation’s military and allies with some 9,000 ships, 16,000 aircraft, 850,000 vehicles, 5 billion rounds of ammunition and artillery shells, and countless other supplies. Although this wartime productivity was dwarfed by American, British, and Russian efforts, it was still an incredible achievement for a country of just 11 million people. However, when the war ended, the remnants of war posed a daunting postwar challenge to political, economic, and social stability. Victory triggered a major disposal problem. Without a war to fight, much of Canada’s vast arsenals were surplus to requirements. So what happened to all the leftover stuff? Drawing from extensive archival and primary research, Alex will explore how the Canadian government and military supported postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation by tackling the great problem of materiel demobilization. In doing so, he will explain how surplus munitions and supplies were reduced, reused, and recycled into new forms of utility in peacetime.


Alex Souchen is a Canadian military historian who specializes in the history of munitions disposal, demobilization, and the Second World War. He received his PhD from Western University in March 2016 and started a two-year SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies in May. He is currently working on two major research projects. The first is an international and environmental history of disarmament and the ocean-dumping of conventional and chemical weapons from 1918 to 1972. The other project, which is under contract with UBC Press, is a history of how the disposal of surplus munitions and supplies effected postwar reconstruction and rehabilitation in Canada from 1943 to 1948.



M Humphries_Apr16 13 014Mark Humphries, Wilfrid Laurier University
16 November 2016

“The Legacy of the Somme 100 Years On”

100 years on, the Battle of the Somme remains emblematic of the horror and futility that has become our memory of the First World War. Historian Mark Humphries will explore the legacy of the Battle of the Somme and the First World War more broadly in popular culture and the ways in which our conventional image of the Somme is at odds with the ways in which those who fought chose to remember the battle.

This is the second of three events which LCMSDS is organizing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this pivotal moment in Canadian military history. The final event will take place two days later in the form of a concert organized in partnership with the Faculty of Music featuring several pieces of First World War music including Vaughan William’s 3rd (Pastoral) Symphony which he composed as a reflection on his experience on the Somme where he served with a British Field Ambulance.



milner2011Marc Milner, University of New Brunswick
8 November 2016

“The Forgotten Gunners: The Tale of Two Anti-Tank Batteries at War 1940-1945”

Little is known of the raising, training and operations of Canada’s anti-tank batteries in the Second World War. Anti-tank guns typically operated dispersed on the battlefield and their actions are often subsumed in the dominant narratives of the units and formations they supported. As part of the work on Loyal Gunners: 3rd Field Artillery Regiment (The Loyal Company) and the History of New Brunswick’s Artillery, 1893-2012 the story of two NB anti-tank batteries were rescued from obscurity. The 103rd (Campbelton) Battery, equipped with 17-pdrs, operated as part of the 6th Anti-Tank Regiment which was the heavy anti-tank reserve held by II Canadian Corps in Northwest Europe, while the 105th (St George) Battery of 3rd Anti-Tank Regiment played a key role in supporting 3rd Canadian Division. This talk will highlight their origins, changing roles and equipment, and their salient moments on the battlefield.



bill-stewartBill Stewart
26 October 2016

‘Ghastly and Gruelling’: Canada’s Ignored Campaign on the Somme, 1916
The Somme was the second longest and costliest Canadian campaign of the First World War. Its mix of victories and defeats triggered massive changes in the way the Canadian Corps fought, the administration of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and in the Canadian political leadership of the war effort. Unlike the intense interest in the Somme battles in the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, there is scant Canadian coverage of this critical campaign. Based on his upcoming book, Bill will address this gap by delivering a presentation on its course, and the factors that shaped how the Canadians battled. He will also present some of his key findings on the importance of artillery, combat losses, attack outcomes, and loss distribution.




Alan Allport

Alan Allport, Syracuse University
21 September 2016

“Into the Blue: The Commonwealth Soldier in the Western Desert, 1940-1943”

The campaign in the Western Desert of Egypt and Libya from June 1940 to February 1943 was the quintessential experience of the British and imperial soldier during the middle years of the Second World War. At the height of the struggle, more than 1,000 Commonwealth soldiers and 5,000 tonnes of supplies were arriving in Egypt every day. Though the war for the Western Desert lasted over two-and-a-half years, heavy fighting only took place for six months in all, and most of the combat was confined to a narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean coast barely 100 miles from end to end. For much of the time and across most of its extent, then, it was the desert itself – ‘the Blue’, as it was known to the troops – that was the Commonwealth soldier’s enemy, not the unseen Afrika Korps. It was a place of malevolence but also great beauty and spirituality, utterly strange to the vast majority of soldiers, and the Eighth Army which fought there had to adjust to it both practically and psychologically.


Dr. Alan Allport received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, and after three years teaching at Princeton University was appointed to a faculty position at Syracuse University where he is currently an Assistant Professor of History in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He has published two books, both with Yale University Press: Demobbed: Coming Home after the Second World War (2009), which won the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Award, and Browned Off and Bloody-Minded: The British Soldier Goes to War 1939-1945 (2015). He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.



Iarocci web versionAndrew Iarocci, Western University
22 March 2016

“Two Wars between Two Covers: Some Reflections on Writing a New Survey History of Canada in the First and Second World Wars”

The presentation will discuss the process of writing and publishing A Nation in Conflict: Canada and the Two World Wars, a new survey history text on the Canadian experience in both world wars. It will address some of the historiographical and methodological issues that we encountered, as well as the challenges of interpreting the war for a new generation of Canadian students. (See here:


Andrew Iarocci teaches history at Western University and the Royal Military College of Canada. His earlier works include Shoestring Soldiers: The First Canadian Division at War, and Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment. He is currently undertaking a detailed study of transportation and logistics on the Western Front, 1914-1919.



Nic Clarke, Canadian War Museum
24 February 2016

“‘He stays and endures, while you go’: Canada’s Rejected Volunteers of the First World War”


Dr. Nic Clarke is the Assistant Historian, First World War at the Canadian War Museum.

Dr. Clarke completed his doctorate in Canadian history at the University of Ottawa in 2009. His research focused on disability and health in Canada and the Canadian Military during the Great War period. His book Unwanted Warriors: The Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was published in October 2015. Unwanted Warriors is the first study to provide a detailed description of the evolution of physical standards for service, and the increasingly complex categories of fitness developed by Canadian military authorities as the war continued. In addition to his work on the First World War, Nic has also published articles on the treatment of people with disabilities in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Canada.

Nic has worked on a number of exhibitions at the Canadian War Museum, including Witness – Canadian Art of the First World War, Fighting in Flanders – Gas, Mud and Memory, and Gallipoli – Three Perspectives. He is currently working on the Museum’s major 2016 exhibition Air War – 1914-1918, and the digitisation of the Museum’s First World War medal set collection.

Nic is originally from Christchurch, New Zealand.




Commodore Brian Santarpia, Combined Task Force (CTF)-150, RCN
“Operation ARTEMIS, the Canadian Armed Forces ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations”
1 December 2015


From December 2014 until April 2015, Commodore Brain Santarpia was deployed to Bahrain where he commanded Combined Task Force (CTF)-150, a multi-national group of ships and aircraft conducting counter-terrorism operations.

The deployment was part of Operation ARTEMIS, the CAF’s ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations across the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean. Through maritime security operations and regional engagements, CTF-150 worked to deter and deny terrorist organizations from using the high seas for smuggling weapons, illicit cargo and narcotics while ensuring the safe passage of merchant ships in some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

For more info:,

Video: CTF 150

About the Speaker

Chief of Staff, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

Commodore Brian Santarpia enrolled in Canadian Forces in 1986 as a Maritime Surface Officer.

After completion of his training he served in a succession of operational postings as a bridge watchkeeper, navigator, combat officer and executive officer in several ships including HMCS RESTIGIOUCHE, CORMORANT, VANCOUVER, HURON, CHALEUR and HALIFAX, and then most recently as the Commanding Officer of HMCS ST JOHN’S from January 2007 until July 2008.

He has also been posted to numerous training billets, including Navigation Instructor at the Naval Officer Training Centre, Head of the Warfare Training Division at the Canadian Forces Fleet School (Esquimalt), Operations Officer of Sea Training Pacific, and in 2008, Commanding Officer of Sea Training Atlantic.

Following his promotion to Captain(N) in 2009, he was appointed as the Special Advisor to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff. In 2010, he assumed command of Canadian Forces Base Halifax until his departure to attend the National Security Programme in 2012.

In addition to being a graduate of the National Security Programme, Cmdre Santarpia holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Royal Roads University and a Masters of Defence Studies from Royal Military College.

Cmdre Santarpia was promoted to his present rank in July 2013 and appointed Director General Naval Personnel. He led the transformation of that organization and assumed the duties of the first Director General Navy Strategic Readiness in April 2014. From December 2014 until April 2015 he was deployed to Bahrain where he commanded Combined Task Force 150, a multi-national group of ships and aircraft conducting counter-terrorism operations.

Upon his return to Canada, he was appointed to his current position as Chief of Staff to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff.



Tim Cook
“Remembering Canada’s Second World War, 1945-2015”

Talk and Book Signing
25 November 2015

Please join award-winning author and historian Tim Cook at the Laurier Military History Speaker Series as he lectures on “Remembering Canada’s Second World War, 1945-2015.”

The event is sponsored and hosted by the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) at Wilfrid Laurier University (232 King Street North, Waterloo, ON). It will take place on Wednesday, November 25th at 7:00pm, and admission is FREE.


Tim Cook is an historian at the Canadian War Museum and an adjunct research professor at Carleton University. He is the author of eight books, including the two volume history of Canada in the Second World War, The Necessary War (2014) and Fight to the Finish (2015). He is a frequent commentator in the media and a member of the Order of Canada.




Geoffrey Hayes
“First Canadian Army in the Fall of 1944: The Officer’s Experience”
28 October 2015

This talk draws from memoirs, letters, even newsreels to explore both the appearance, as well as the experience of the junior army officer, First Canadian Army in the fall of 1944.

Geoffrey Hayes is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University (BA/MA), and is currently an associate professor of History at the University of Waterloo. He is the author the Lincs: A History of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment; Waterloo County: An Illustrated History, as well as the co-editor of Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment; Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp.



Mark Humphries
“Newfoundland at Gallipoli: An Unknown War 100 Years On”
30 September 2015

M Humphries_Apr16 13 014

A century ago, in September 1915 the Newfoundland Regiment (later the Royal Newfoundland Regiment) landed at Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli Peninsula where they took part in the final phase of one of the most disastrous military campaigns of the First World War. The regiment, raised on the tiny island Dominion of Newfoundland which had a population of only 250,000 in 1914, was the smallest of the Imperial contributions to the British war effort but its experience at home and overseas was characterized by many of the same obstacles and challenges faced by Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In December and January, the regiment participated in the only successful part of the campaign: the rearguard actions covering the secret evacuations of the beachheads. During the war, the Gallipoli experience became an important part of Newfoundland’s emerging war story, but it was soon overshadowed by the disastrous massacre at Beaumont Hamel on 1 July 1916. Join professor Humphries, who spent three years at Memorial University, as he explores this forgotten chapter in our history and the ways in which the memory of the campaign is being used in Newfoundland today.

Mark Humphries is the Director of the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) and the Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience at Wilfrid Laurier University. He has published five books and more than a dozen articles on the medical, social, and operational history of the Great War. His most recent book is The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada (UTP, 2013).



Tarah Brookfield
“Disaster May Never Occur Here: Mobilizing Women for Cold War Civil Defence”
18 March 2015

Tarah Brookfield is an Associate Professor in History and Youth and Children’s Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford Campus. Her research focuses on the social history of war, child welfare, and peace activism in 20th century Canada. She is the author of Cold War Comforts: Canadian Women, Child Safety and Global Insecurity (Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2012) which was a finalist for the 2013 Canada Prize. She has also published articles about Canadian women’s political activism during the First World War and Vietnam War, children’s engagement with the United Nations, and youth’s anxiety about nuclear war. Her new book project is Educating for Peace: Adults, Youth, and Families on Grindstone Island which examines the community set up by Quakers and likeminded peace activists to explore peace, non-violence, and social justice education between 1960-1990.





Sir Hew Strachan
“Democracy and Empire: War, Memory and Commemoration”
7 March 2015

Hugh-StrachanDelta Waterloo
110 Erb St, Waterloo, ON
(Silver Lake Ballroom A+B)

Join award-winning author and acclaimed military historian Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College, Oxford, England. Strachan will be delivering the keynote address at the Tri-University Annual History Conference, which takes place on March 7 at the Delta Waterloo Hotel in Waterloo, ON. His talk will address an important avenue of his wider research which focuses on military history from the 18th century to date, including contemporary strategic studies, but with particular interest in the First World War and in the history of the British Army.

Strachan is a member of the Defence Academy Advisroy Board, the National Committee for the Centenary of the First World War, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He also serves as Specialist Advisor to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. His publications include, among others: European armies and the conduct of war (London, 1983), The Politics of the British Army (Oxford, 1997), and Clausewitz’s On War: a Biography (London, 2007).

For more information on the career and research interests of Sir Hew Strachan, please click here.

For information on the Tri-University conference, including the official programme, please click here.


Geoff Keelan
“Henri Bourassa: A Canadian Dissenter in the First World War”
25 February 2015


In this talk, Geoff Keelan will discuss the reasons behind French Canadian nationalist Henri Bourassa’s opposition to the First World War. Bourassa was one of the most vocal opponents to the war in Canada who debated the war’s purpose and value within a Canadian context. Though the majority of Canadians disagreed with him, his position aligned with other international commentators from the Allied countries who also opposed the war. Keelan explores Bourassa’s thoughts on Canada at war as well as international issues during the years 1914-1918.

Geoff Keelan is completing his PhD on Henri Bourassa and the First World War. He finished his undergraduate at Wilfrid Laurier University, before heading to the University of Waterloo for his Master’s and PhD. His other projects have included work on commemoration of the First World War and the French Canadian experience from 1914-1918. He was employed by LCMSDS before moving to London, Ontario, where he continues to work on finishing his graduate work and other historical research.





Richard Goette
“Air Force Mercy Flights in the Arctic During the Early Cold War”
20 January 2015

During the early Cold War period (1945-1960), the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) maintained a constant presence in Canada’s North. Though many individuals are familiar with the RCAF’s role in sovereignty protection and continental air defence in the region during this time, the story of the air force’s important benevolence endeavours to provide assistance to those in need through its numerous Mercy Flights has gone largely untold.

This presentation will utilize a broad definition of “Mercy Flights” to consist of “soft” air power RCAF missions and tasks to aid those in need of assistance in Canada’s northern region. Flying from numerous locations, the RCAF air mobility community performed a variety of Search-and-Rescue (SAR) missions, delivered emergency aid (medical and supplies), and brought relief and joy (notably “Operation Santa Claus” in December) to numerous individuals, military and other government workers, and various communities in the North (including indigenous peoples).

This presentation will detail not only a few Mercy Flights themselves, but also the policies, aircraft and aircrew, and domestic and operational considerations therein. It will also discuss implications for the current RCAF air mobility community as it continues to exercise “soft” air power in Canada’s northern region. It is therefore hoped that this presentation will not only make a valuable contribution to Canada’s aviation history, but also highlight other important aid to the civil power and whole-of-government (WoG) approach lessons learned that are relevant today.


Dr. Richard Goette is an aerospace power academic and Canadian air force historian. He currently holds a one-year position as an assistant professor in the Department of Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College (CFC) in Toronto. At CFC he lectures on air power and the RCAF, and teaches residential and distance learning courses on the Joint Command and Staff Program (JCSP) and National Security Program (NSP), in addition to being a Masters of Defence Studies (MDS) supervisor.

Richard is a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Association and is an Associate Editor-in-Chief of the association’s flagship publication, Airforce magazine. He is also an Associate Air Force Historian with the RCAF Air Force History & Heritage in Trenton, Vice-President of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society (CAHS), and a LCMSDS Research Associate. Richard is currently conducting research on air power issues related to the RCAF as a military institution, air mobility (airlift and SAR), “soft” air power, and the Arctic. His presentation is a snapshot of this research.




Mark Humphries
“Hunting a Killer: Searching for the Origins of the 1918 Flu”
19 November 2014

Join distinguished historian Mark Humphries at the Laurier Military History Speaker Series as he celebrates the release of his most recent book The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada (UTP, 2013).

The event is sponsored and hosted by the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) at Wilfrid Laurier University (232 King Street North, Waterloo, ON). It will take place on Wednesday, November 19th at 7:00pm, and admission is FREE.


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Tracking down the origin of a killer virus can be a painstaking, difficult process. They often behave like shadowy stalkers, emerging in fits and starts, learning to kill over time and space before they actually begin to spread in a significant way.

The-Last-Plague-HumphriesThe deadliest epidemic in history was the so-called “Spanish Flu” of 1918 which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. But even after nearly 100 years of research, the virus’ origin site remains hotly debated. While the mid-western United States, France, and China have all been identified as potential candidates by medical researchers, the military context for the pandemic has been all but ignored. Conversely, military historians have paid little attention to a deadly disease which underlines the important relationship between battlefield and home-front.

In this talk, historian Mark Humphries will embark on a detective’s search for the origins of the deadliest virus in history, a journey that will take us from China, to Canada, to the battlefields of France and Flanders. Based on new research in British and Canadian archives that was recently published in the journal War in History and profiled in National Geographic Magazine, Humphries reveals that the 1918 flu most likely emerged first in China in the winter of 1917–18, diffusing across the world as previously isolated populations came into contact with one another on the battlefields of Europe. Ethnocentric fears—both official and popular—facilitated its spread along military pathways that had been carved out across the globe to sustain the war effort on the Western Front.

Mark Humphries is the Director of the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) and the Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience at Wilfrid Laurier University. He has published five books and more than a dozen articles on the medical, social, and operational history of the Great War. His most recent book is The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada (UTP, 2013).




Award-winning author and historian J. L. Granatstein discusses his latest book, The Greatest Victory: Canada’s One Hundred Days, 1918 (Oxford University Press, 2014 – $29.95) at the Laurier Military History Speaker Series

22 October 2014

JLGThe event is sponsored and hosted by the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) at Wilfrid Laurier University (232 King Street North, Waterloo, ON). It will take place on Wednesday, October 22nd at 7:00pm, and admission is FREE.

The battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 is a much celebrated moment in both Canadian and European military history. Vimy was a costly success. While it did improve military and public morale, the reality is that it was more of a symbolic victory than a strategic one (the Germans retreated a few miles and many lives had been lost).

Surprisingly, few Canadians are familiar with the real story of Canadian military success and sacrifice: the Hundred Days that led to the end of the war. Beginning on August 8, 1918, the Canadian Corps launched a series of attacks that took Amiens, crossed the Canal du Nord, smashed the Hindenburg Line, took Cambrai and Valenciennes, and defeated a quarter of the German Army in the field. On the morning of August 8, following the Canadian-led attack, German commander and joint head of the German army Erich Ludendorff called it “the Black Day of the German Army.” In the hundred days that preceded the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the Canadian Corps made its greatest contribution to the Allied victory in World War 1 and, without question, the greatest contribution any Canadian force has ever made in battle. The 100,000 soldiers of the four Canadian divisions fought a mobile war that was revolutionary in its effectiveness and, as J. L. Granatstein argues, would influence the course of subsequent fighting, particularly in World War 2. With 45,000 casualties in three months (almost a quarter of Canadian casualties during the whole four years of the war), however, the costs were heavy.

These Canadian-led assaults changed Allied fighting from static defensive positions to a war of mobility, technology, and smart coordination. How did Canadians come to lead these mobile, well-coordinated, and hard-hitting attacks? The preparations were intense, according to Granatstein, ranging from individual training to massive corps-wide exercises; careful analysis of “lessons learned” studies; expansion of the role of signallers, gunners and engineers; and perfection of techniques like the “creeping barrage.” The “fire and movement” philosophy emphasized by Sir Arthur Currie, Commander of the Canadian Corps, increased the use of tanks, machine guns, Stokes mortars, and phosphorus bombs, among other military hardware. Mobility was the key; Canadians used their two Motor Machine Brigades – with guns and mortars mounted on armoured cars and trucks – with great effect.

Granatstein is an award-winning historian who has received six honorary degrees for his work on conflict and Canadian history. He is a gifted writer with a profound understanding of the historical and political context of World War I, as well as the many factors that played into the complex events in the final days of the war. These factors include complex politics, the logistics of large-scale battles, the personalities organizing the battles, and even the specific weather and geography that influenced battle outcomes. Perhaps most important is Granatstein’s excellent selection of soldiers’ own description of their experience on the ground, in his use of the Canadian Letters and Images Project. In addition to these perspectives, events are recounted from a variety of angles, including that of Canada’s most famous General, Sir Arthur Currie.

This new account of Canada’s one hundred days will displace Vimy as the moment to remember about how the Great War was won – with difficulty, determination, and sacrifice.

J.L. Granatstein is Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the department of History at York University. Granatstein’s scholarship has won numerous awards. In 1992, the Royal Society of Canada awarded him the J.B. Tyrrell Historical Medal for “outstanding work in the history of Canada.” In 1996, the Conference of Defence Associations Institute named him winner of the Vimy Award. In 1996, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada, and he won the National History Society’s Pierre Berton Prize in 2004 and the Organization for the History of Canada’s National History Award in 2006. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Western Ontario, the University of Calgary as well as Memorial University of Newfoundland, McMaster University, Niagara University, and Ryerson University.





Canadian Historian Uncovers the Life of “The Elusive Mr. Pond” at the Laurier Military History Speaker Series

17 September 2015

BarryGough credit Zachary GoughJoin award-winning author and historian Dr. Barry Gough at the Laurier Military History Speaker Series as he celebrates the release of his new book, The Elusive Mr. Pond: The Soldier, Fur Trader and Explorer who Opened the Northwest (Douglas & McIntyre, $34.95).

The event is sponsored and hosted by the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) at Wilfrid Laurier University (232 King Street North, Waterloo, ON). It will take place on Wednesday, September 17th at 7pm, and admission is FREE. Books will be available through Words Worth Books.

In The Elusive Mr. Pond, Dr. Barry Gough sheds light on one of recent history’s most influential and shadowy figures whose legend has been forgotten in favour of those who came after him. While most North Americans won’t recognize his name, Pond mentored the more well-known Sir Alexander Mackenzie and mapped much of northwestern Canada before him. Peter Pond was extraordinarily ambitious, and became a notable figure in the founding of the empire of the St. Lawrence. And he was both an entrepreneur and pioneer–venturing into the wild and unexplored expanse of the far distant Arctic watershed. His exploits in the fur trade were legendary and elevated him to become a founding partner in the North West Company. These experiences, combined with his reputed violent temper and implication in two murders, make him a compelling historical figure.

Prior to The Elusive Mr. Pond, much of Pond’s life has been shrouded in mystery. Renowned researcher and historian Barry Gough has created the definitive portrait of this captivating character. Gough’s research re-examines Pond’s surviving memoirs, explorers’ journals, letters written by acquaintances of Pond, publications in London magazines and many other sources to create the most complete portrait of this eccentric, industrious, sturdy, aggressive and secretive fellow ever published.

Dr. Barry Gough is one of Canada’s foremost historians, well recognized for the authenticity of his research and for his engaging narratives. He is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including Fortune’s a River: The Collision of Empires in Northwest America (Harbour, 2007), which won the John Lyman Book Award for best Canadian naval and maritime history and was shortlisted for the Nereus Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. Over four decades, his contributions to Imperial, Commonwealth and Canadian studies have earned him many honours at home and abroad. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

Contact Information

Matt Baker, Senior Research Associate and Centre Coordinator
[email protected]
(519) 884-0710 ext. 2080

Business Hours
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: Closed

Mailing Address
Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, Canada
N2L 3C5

Physical Address
232 King St. N. Waterloo, ON

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