This isn’t a typical book about Atlantic Canadians fighting in World War I. The author goes into great detail about the role Nova Scotians played which contributed to the Canadian war effort overall. Special attention is given to the battlefield experiences of the soldiers and we find context from pictures taken all over the province at that time. A notable part of the book is also dedicated to the efforts of women during the great war, from factory workers to nurses including Pictou County’s Margaret Macdonald.
Will R. Bird is remembered and highly regarded as one of Nova Scotia’s greatest authors. He was also a soldier of World War I, and many of his captivating stories reflect this period of his life. Over time his fiction and non-fiction articles and stories became difficult to find, so it’s extra special that this newly-released collection exists. The editor gathered fifteen of Bird’s combat stories for readers to absorb and get lost in. They’re based in part on Bird’s own experiences, making the sense of realism undeniable.
This book deals with a variety of subjects involving Maritimers and World War II, including personal accounts from veterans and lists the myriad vessels, weapons, and technologies used during the Battle of the Atlantic. Most of all, the author shows the large growth of the Royal Canadian Navy over a very short period of time with the assistance of many Atlantic Canadians.
Original letters from soldiers to home are likely getting increasingly harder to find, particularly from the first world war. The author has curated and arranged the collection so that it shows this time in history from all facets in a very interesting way. This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I, and it’s astounding to compare how much has changed between then and now (in the way of technology for instance) and how little (the joy of coming home).
While we talk a lot about honouring the lives of Canadian soldiers and others who contributed to the war effort, there is very little on record pertaining to people of colour who fought in the first or second world war and even less acknowledgement given. Ruck is a voice for the approximately 600 black soldiers part of the Black Battalion of Nova Scotia who fought and died for their country. His words are thought provoking, inspirational, and very important. The roll call, pictures, and documents solidify his message that these men were mistreated and subjected to racism, while all along their sacrifices were kept out of Canadian history and denied proper recognition. Ruck uncovers this blight, and it can never be hidden away again.
Everyone loves a great survival story, and Mona Parson’s is this in spades. She had an incredible life, from being a chorus girl in New York in the ‘20s to being a nurse in the Great Depression to finding herself a Nazi prisoner. Her journey of how she left and eventually came back to Wolfville is nothing short of fascinating. There are great pictures as well as excellent backstory regaling the life of this amazing woman.
This new book from Ross Hebb is appropriately described as a companion to Letters Home and it’s easy to see why. Where the first book was a collection of letters from many different people, this one centers on three- a soldier, a nurse, and a fisherman. That the families of these people held onto their collection of letters for a hundred years is amazing. We get to learn about their experiences in the war and gain insight into what life was like for little rural communities in the Maritimes back then. That these letters are now preserved in this book for future generations is pretty great, too.
While it might be crazy to imagine teenagers (and their superiors in their mid-20s) manning corvettes, vessels that acted as barriers between Hitler’s navy and their own naval convoys, this was the case for many members of the Royal Canadian Navy back in World War II. The author describes this in a group of stories with unexpected coming-of-age themes. These boys had to grow up fast and learn to work with these temperamental ships and fight as a team. Lamb himself was an ex-corvette officer, and he lends an informative voice through these stories that help the average person appreciate some of the struggles he and so many others went through.
This is the only novel on this list, but its story is unfortunately all too familiar for the families and loved ones of soldiers and officers who emerge from the other side of a war forever changed. The shell-shocked main character suffers from PTSD and takes his anger out on his wife and daughter. Something happened to him in the trenches that is a mystery for the reader until one day when blackmail comes to visit in the form of an old comrade. This is a different kind of war story, but remains engaging, thought provoking, and moving nonetheless.
Unlike the other Navy books on this list, Boileau gives us a visual portrait of the ships used to combat World Wars I and II. It’s a really interesting photographic history of the Royal Canadian Navy, from the passing of the Naval Services Act in 1910 to the V-E Day Riots in 1945. What’s also great is that Boileau focuses on the people as much as the ships, while making Halifax and its harbour a character in itself.
Blog post by Meaghan Steeves
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