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Mountains and Memorials

Yesterday, Andrea Eidinger tweeted a post about Vimy Peak in Waterton Lakes National Park, in Southern Alberta. The post appeared on Retroactive, the government of Alberta’s blog for historic places, to mark the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Being a First World War historian who grew up in Calgary and spent most weekends hiking up the peaks of Kananaskis Country, I knew of a handful … Continue reading Mountains and Memorials

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Recruiting Footprints 2: Scattered Thoughts

In my previous post, I talked about some maps that I made using Leaflet, a JavaScript library, to map the enlistment footprints of four battalions in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The goal of the maps was to compare the enlistment patterns of ethnically-defined battalions, such as the 223rd (Canadian Scandinavian) Battalion and the 233rd (Canadiens-Français du Nord-Ouest) Battalion, against the enlistment patterns of local battalions raised in … Continue reading Recruiting Footprints 2: Scattered Thoughts

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Recruiting Footprints 1: A Certain Cultural Gravitas

Scottish communities in Canada rallied to the imperial war effort by forming Scottish battalions in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. As explained in a previous post, these battalions relied heavily on the hallmarks of Scottish culture. Members of these battalions would march in their kilts, often accompanied by the skirl of their regimental pipe band, while recruiting posters often relied on images of soldiers in kilts. Historians … Continue reading Recruiting Footprints 1: A Certain Cultural Gravitas

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Letter Rip

At the beginning of the year, I resolved to experiment more with Gephi to explore the possibilities of network analysis in historical research. Prompted largely by the need to organize some classroom activities for my course on the First World War, I delved back into the Canadian Images and Letters Project (CLIP) to scale up my efforts. In my first attempt, I explored the letters of … Continue reading Letter Rip

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Hands Across the Sea: Irish and Scottish Battalions in the AIF and CEF

Originally posted on the Four Nations History Network Blog on 8 February 2016. In December 1915, Reverend J.S. MacPherson of Morphett Vale, South Australia, wrote to the State War Council proposing to raise battalions for the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) “representing the National Societies, such as the Caledonian, Hibernian, Welsh and Cornish.”[1] A little over one year into the First World War, voluntary enlistments were tapering off … Continue reading Hands Across the Sea: Irish and Scottish Battalions in the AIF and CEF

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Mapping Patriotism (sort of)

I’m prepping some GIS workshops, so I needed some data that workshop participants could map as part of an exercise. I could just make up some random numbers but it would be much more effective to demonstrate the power of GIS if I used some actual data that could reveal how space and place should factor into historical analysis. The problem is that I haven’t … Continue reading Mapping Patriotism (sort of)

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Loggers, not Fighters

As part of Black History Month, Canada Post issued a new stamp to commemorate No 2. Construction Battalion. The battalion was formed as an all-Black labour unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in 1916 to address the persistent exclusion of African Canadian volunteers by Canadian recruiting officers. The No. 2 Construction Battalion is often celebrated as a stepping-stone toward racial equality in Canada because … Continue reading Loggers, not Fighters

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Getting into Gephi

I don’t think this counts as a New Year’s resolution, but I’ve been meaning to play around with Gephi for a while now. The biggest hurdle for me was finding sources that were conducive to network analysis. My research does not rely heavily on personal correspondence, so I turned to the Canadian Letters and Images Project, based at Vancouver Island University. The project has build a corpus of … Continue reading Getting into Gephi

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Making Molehills of Mountains

After an extended hiatus, I’m back to blogging. I’m just settling into my postdoc in Digital History and Pedagogy with the Department of History at the University of Delaware. Over the summer, I corresponded briefly with one of my new colleagues, Barry Joyce, who inquired about the feasibility of building 3-D models from topographical maps so he could use them as a teaching aid in his … Continue reading Making Molehills of Mountains

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Playing with Fusion

At the moment, I’m writing a chapter on voluntary contributions from Indigenous communities in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand during the First World War. Any discussion of First Nations enlistments in Canada is bound to include a discussion of the 114th (Brock’s Rangers) Battalion, raised in Haldiman County in Southwestern Ontario. The 114th included two companies of First Nations soldiers, recruited mainly from the Six … Continue reading Playing with Fusion