Episode #3–Complicating History


Who is Wilfrid Laurier University’s Cleghorn Fellow in War and Society? Mary Chaktsiris dropped by the studio this month to talk about her new position, teaching in a different environment, and her research into Toronto and the Great War. Mary became the Cleghorn Fellow in 2016, following a two-year stint at the Council of Ontario Universities. Teaching four classes at a new university this past year, Mary still finds that community-building is one of the most important parts of being a professor wherever one may be.

Focusing on Toronto during the Great War-period in her dissertation, Mary insists that gender is a key component of understanding Torontonians’ responses to the war effort. In doing so, her short but stellar publishing career has been marked by challenging or as she puts it, “complicating” the literature on the First World War. Certainly, patriotism and pro-war sentiment existed in Toronto, but so did the voices of ambivalence.

As she moves on as a scholar in history, Mary is now looking into the post-war experiences of veterans living in Canada. Utilizing the valuable resource of the pension records located here at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, she is beginning to understand the challenges and difficulties that many veterans encountered when they came home. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, Mary says, but many of these challenges that veterans of the Great War faced in the 1920s and 1930s continue to plague veterans of today.

Music credit: Lee Rosever.

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Chaktsiris, Mary G. “A Great War of Expectations: Men, Mothers, and Monsters in Toronto, 1914–1918.” Ph.D. Diss., University of Toronto, 2015.

——. “‘Not Unless Necessary’: Student Responses to War Work at the University of Toronto, 1914–1918.” Histoire Sociale/Social History 47, no. 94 (2014): 293–310.