Maple Leaf Route Webinar Series

In partnership with the Canadian Battlefields Foundation, the Juno Beach Centre Association and the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society, the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies is pleased to announce the Maple Leaf Route Webinar Series. Every two weeks from May to September, we will be following Canadian and British Commonwealth soldiers as they landed on D-Day in June 1944 and fought their way inland at the Battle of Normandy.

Registration is FREE and required for all webinars. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing a link to the webinar. All webinars begin at 7:00pm Eastern Time (ET) and are approximately 90 minutes in length.

This nine-part series has three goals: 

1) To provide an alternative platform to raise awareness and foster interest in Canada’s military history in Europe 

2) To explore new directions in the study of Canada and the Second World War through discussions by established and emerging scholars.

3) To highlight the many educational and commemorative activities of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies, Canadian Battlefields Foundation, Juno Beach Centre Association and Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society in Canada and France.

If you have any questions about the Maple Leaf Route Webinar Series, please e-mail Eric at [email protected].

We look forward to seeing you at one of our webinars!

Spring & Summer 2021 Speakers

A Woman’s Touch: Supporting Canadian Servicemen’s Resilience in Europe, 1943–47

Dr. Sarah Glassford, Leddy Library, University of Windsor

June 16th at 7:30 pm ET | Register HERE

In this talk, Sarah Glassford will explore the emotional dimensions of the Canadian presence in Europe during the later years of the Second World War. As Canadian servicemen amassed in Britain, then advanced through Italy, Normandy, and the Low Countries, 641 women of the Canadian Red Cross Corps Overseas Detachment followed close behind. Through food parcels, hospital visits, occupational therapy, ambulance-driving, canteen service, and the provision of comforts ranging from hometown newspapers and cigarettes to conversation and a listening ear, their job was to care for Canadian servicemen, shoring up the troops’ psychological resilience with a proverbial “woman’s touch.” Corps members’ letters, diaries, and oral histories provide a fascinating glimpse of how friendship, kinship, and romance helped both servicemen and Red Cross women cope with the physical and emotional traumas of wartime.

DR. SARAH GLASSFORD is a social historian of Canada who researches the intertwined histories of women, children, wartime, health, and humanitarian aid. She is the author of Mobilizing Mercy: A History of the Canadian Red Cross (MQUP, 2017) and co-editor with Amy Shaw of Making the Best of It: Women and Girls of Canada and Newfoundland during the Second World War (UBC, 2020). She works as the Archivist at the University of Windsor’s Leddy Library.

The View from Point 67: Canada’s Killing Fields in the Second Half of the Battle of Normandy

Lee Windsor, University of New Brunswick

June 30th at 7:30 pm ET | Register HERE

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians flocked to Juno Beach and Overlord historic sites in Normandy related to the famous June 1944 events. Fewer travelled inland in search of the Canadian Army’s experience in July and August when ground force commitments quadrupled and combat intensified. The Canadian Battlefields Foundation (CBF) viewing area and memorial site at Point 67 is the launch pad for Lee Windsor’s reflection on 26 years of visits there with veterans, students, soldiers, and teachers. The location fuels red hot discussions of how the second half of the Battle of Normandy matters in Canada’s history. The ground visible from that commanding lookoff is the epicentre of controversy and a place where both sides practiced savagely sophisticated, technologically-enhanced killing.

LEE WINDSOR is an Associate Professor of History and holds the Fredrik S. Eaton Chair in Canadian Army Studies at the University of New Brunswick’s Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society. He studied under Terry Copp for his MA and drove for him and his wife, Linda, during the first “experimental” CBF Study Tour in 1995. Publications include Kandahar Tour (with David Charters and Brent Wilson), Steel Cavalry, and Loyal Gunners (with Roger Sarty and Marc Milner).

The Air Support Rollercoaster: Canadian Soldiers’ Morale in Normandy

Alexander Fitzgerald-Black, Juno Beach Centre Association

July 14th at 7:30 pm ET | Register HERE

Soldiers’ morale on the frontline relies on many factors. Casualty rates, time spent in heavy combat, news from home, weather and terrain, food, and general health are all relevant. The role of air forces should also get our consideration. In this talk, Alex Fitzgerald-Black will tackle two questions. First, what did the Canadian soldier think about the air support he received in Normandy? Second, what were the consequences of this support for morale? Canadian war diaries and memoirs of the fighting on the ground – including George G. Blackburn’s classic The Guns of Normandy – contain myriad compliments and criticisms about what the Allied air force was doing during the Battle of Normandy. The compliments (peaks) and criticisms (valleys) present an undulating curve of Canadian soldiers’ morale in Normandy. Fitzgerald-Black’s presentation will examine this “rollercoaster” in a sweeping tour of Canadian army operations from Juno Beach to the Falaise Gap.

ALEXANDER FITZGERALD-BLACK is the Operations and Outreach Manager at the Juno Beach Centre Association, the charity that owns and operates Canada’s Second World War Museum on the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, France. He holds a Master of Arts in military history (University of New Brunswick) and a Master of Arts in public history (Western University).

“J’irai revoir ma Normandie”: French-Canadian Infantry Units in Normandy

Dr. Caroline D’Amours, Parks Canada

July 28th at 7:30 pm ET | Register HERE

French Canada’s response to the Second World War is often reduced to questions related to its voluntary enlistment rates and its massive rejection of conscription. As a result, its contributions to Canada’s war effort are often marginalized. Still, like so many Canadian units, the Régiment de la Chaudière, the Régiment de Maisonneuve, and the Fusiliers Mont-Royal fought with determination and courage in Normandy. In this talk, Caroline D’Amours will examine how issues like casualties, reinforcements, morale but also identity and language specifically impacted the experience of French-Canadian infantrymen in Normandy. War diaries, censorship reports, memoirs, and oral histories help understand the way French-Canadian infantrymen cope with the realities of the Normandy battlefield.

DR. CAROLINE D’AMOURS is a military historian who focuses on Canadian infantry training from 1939 to 1945 and on the participation of Quebec society in the Second World War. Her most recent contributions are featured in the Journal of Military History and Social History. She works as an historian at Parks Canada and is a research associate at the International History Institute, Boston University.

Canadian Army Officer Discipline and Martial Justice, 194445

Dr. Matthew Barrett, Canadian War Museum

August 11th at 7:00 pm ET | Register HERE

Of all the stories from Normandy during the hard fighting of summer 1944, few were stranger than the experience of Lieutenant Reginald Woods of the Lake Superior Regiment. After his platoon came under German attack on 17 August, Woods vanished. When he suddenly re-emerged two months later claiming amnesia, Canadian military authorities needed to grapple with assumptions about combat leadership, mental responsibility and criminal culpability. Using an illustrated, graphic history approach, Matthew Barrett explores Woods’ medical diagnosis and eventual court martial to highlight the challenges of uncovering what happened and piercing through the fog of war. Using Woods’ fascinating story as a case study, this talk examines the topic of officer discipline more broadly to study the legal, medical, and administrative responses to perceived misconduct and failure on the battlefield.

DR. MATTHEW BARRETT is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow with the Canadian War Museum. His postdoctoral project explores the creation of graphic history scholarship as a visual form of historical interpretation and analysis. His forthcoming book, Scandalous Conduct: Canadian Officer Courts Martial, 1914-1945, will be published by UBC Press.

Remembering the Canadians in Normandy

Marie Eve Vaillancourt, Juno Beach Centre Association

August 25th at 7:00 pm ET | Register HERE

The Canadian presence in Normandy began on June 6, 1944. The subsequent ten weeks of fighting during the Battle of Normandy established a distinct presence, which informed in many ways how we remember Canadians in this part of the world today. My talk will focus on these underpinnings and will detail its evolution over the past seven decades since.

MARIE EVE VAILLANCOURT is the Exhibitions and Development Manager at the Juno Beach Centre Association and the Project Lead of MEV Museology Services. In 2016, she designed a special 100th anniversary exhibition commemorating the over 50,000 Canadians whose bodies lie in France. It was called From Vimy to Juno: Remembering Canadians in France.

The Canadians in Normandy: Another Go-Around

Geoff Hayes, University of Waterloo

September 8th at 7:00 pm ET | Register HERE

Despite years of debate, the view persists that “something appeared to be wrong” with First Canadian Army through the summer of 1944. This talk traces the Canadian path through Normandy to re-consider an ‘old’ narrative. It argues that, in the face of heavy casualties and enduring British criticism of the Canadians, the soldiers of First Canadian Army understood that they had earned a remarkable victory in Normandy. Finally, after over four years of war, the Canadians believed that they had won a Canadian victory, one that matched, even surpassed their fathers’ achievements a generation before.

Educated at Wilfrid Laurier University and Western University, GEOFF HAYES is a professor of history at the University of Waterloo. He was a student of Terry Copp when he wrote The Lincs: A History of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment at War (1986). Most recently his book, Crerar’s Lieutenants: Inventing the Canadian Junior Army Officer, 1939–1945 (UBC, 2017) won the 2018 C.P. Stacey Award. Geoff has learned a great deal from the many student tours he has joined on the battlefields of Northwest Europe, organized through the Canadian Battlefields Foundation.

Our Partners

The mandate of La Fondation canadienne des champs de bataille / Canadian Battlefields Foundation is to educate, research, and commemorate the role played by Canada’s armed forces since the beginning of the 20th century. Since 1992, La Fondation/Foundation has sponsored a key series of commemorative sites throughout Normandy. Beginning in 1996, the CBF started an annual study tour of Italy and Northwest Europe for hundreds of Canadian university students. These tours provide an intensive field seminar that explore Canada’s role in the two world wars. 
The Juno Beach Centre Association is the charity that owns and operates the Juno Beach Centre, Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre in Normandy, France. Opened in 2003 by veterans and volunteers with a vision to create a permanent memorial to all Canadians who served during the Second World War, the Centre’s mandate is to preserve this legacy for future generations through education and remembrance.
The Milton F. Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society is devoted to excellence in the study of war as a complex social phenomenon. With the goal of increasing understanding of the cause, course, and consequence of armed conflict, the Gregg Centre is internationally recognized for its graduate program, undergraduate and graduate teaching, public outreach, popular and scholarly publications, and its expertise in all aspects of modern conflict.

For a list of past speakers, click here.