Webinar Series

In partnership with the Canadian Battlefields Foundation and the Juno Beach Centre Association, 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.

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

Juno Beach, 1944–2014: An Overview

Terry Copp, Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies

May 19th at 7:00 pm ET — Register HERE

Terry Copp first visited the Normandy beaches in 1981 when researching Maple Leaf Route: Caen. Armed with the original 1:25,000 maps and air photos, reproduced in MLR: Caen, he studied the terrain, a key primary source for tactical and operational history. Copp has returned to Normandy many times since then usually leading study tours for The Canadian Battle of Normandy Foundation (today the Canadian Battlefields Foundation), the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies and True Patriot Love. The landscape has changed dramatically over the past 42 years as a result of new construction and efforts at memorialization. Copp will talk briefly about the nature of the “Atlantic Wall” in 1944 and the problem of breaking through it, then describe the changes to the terrain especially in the ways D-Day has come to be commemorated in the Juno sector.

TERRY COPP is one of Canada’s foremost military historians. The author and co-author of over twenty published books and of numerous scholarly articles on the operations and experience of the Canadian military during the World Wars, Copp is a leading scholar of Canada’s military role in World War II and an influential advocate for military history in both military and civilian education. Copp’s influential writings on the Canadian battles in Northwest Europe has created a lasting legacy through the creation of battlefield memorials, the upsurge of student and teacher battlefield tours and the publication of battlefields guides, designed to help visitors to properly navigate important sites of Canadian history.

Securing the Normandy Bridgehead

Marc Milner, University of New Brunswick

June 2nd at 7:00 pm ET — Register HERE

Marc Milner will explore the successful campaign to secure the Normandy bridgehead by the Allied armies in June 1944.

MARC MILNER is a professor of military history (Ph.D., University of New Brunswick) and former director of the Milton F. Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including Battle of the Atlantic (2003), which won the C.P. Stacey Prize for the best book in military history in Canada, and D-Day to Carpiquet: the North Shore Regiment and the Liberation of Europe (2006).

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

Sarah Glassford, Leddy Library, University of Windsor

June 16th at 7:00 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 Air Support Rollercoaster: Canadian Soldiers’ Morale in Normandy

Alexander Fitzgerald-Black, Juno Beach Centre Association

July 14th at 7:00 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).

Canadian Army Officer Discipline and Martial Justice, 194445

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.

Our Partners

For a list of past speakers, click here.