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York U history experts explore WWI in documentary to mark centennial

TORONTO, April 24, 2014 — Did you know income tax in Canada is a direct result of the First World War? That we lost nearly an entire generation of men in the war that lasted more than four years? Or that only the Canadian military ranked women as officers during the war? York University’s Department of History in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies has produced a fascinating video series to mark the centennial of the Great War, which includes these facts and more.

“Creating this documentary series was very exciting as we were able to bring in several facets of the Great War and its impact on Canada, and also include historic images to support our analysis at the century mark,” says Professor Marcel Martel, the history department chair and the Avie Bennet Historica Canada chair in Canadian History, upon releasing the documentary series on YouTube for public view, April 24.

From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austria-Hungary Empire that sparked one of the deadliest combats in human history, to how the shared sense of bereavement from losing so many loved ones has united people in Canadian history, the documentary examines various aspects of the war, the role Canada has played in it, and the lasting effect on this country.

York University history experts also delve into how and why European and non-European countries got involved in the war, particularly their political, regional and religious affiliations. Other topics include roles for Canadian women in warzone medical and clerical services as well as fulfilling wartime workforce needs at home; new technology use such as employing aircraft and tanks in warfare; and the repercussions on ethnic groups and their nations.

The six-part series in English titled The War to End all Wars includes The World at War, Canada at War, Women at War, Empires at War, Technologies at War, The Spoils of War, and its comprehensive French version is entitled Les Canadiens français et la Première Guerre mondiale. The experts featured in this project are available for media interviews in both languages, on historic events of the First World War:

Professor Thabit Abdullah: The Ottoman Empire; the Middle East.
Professor Stephen Brooke: The origins of the First World War, the British Empire during war; weapons; Great Britain in 20th century.
Professor Craig Heron: Canada; labour and business during WWI; munitions production; opposition to war; soldiers’ integration into civilian life.
Professor William Jenkins: Canada and Ireland; Toronto before and during the First World War, British born Canadians in war.
Professor Joan Judge: China in the late 19th and early 20th century; China’s role in WW I; Treaty of Versailles and impact on Chinese nationalism in post-war period; China-Japan tensions.
Professor Molly Ladd-Taylor: United States, late 19th and early 20th centuries; first wave feminism and WW I; women's roles in the First World War.
Professor Marcel Martel: French Canadian and Québécois reaction to War; formation of Union Government (1917-18); conscription.
Professor Kathryn McPherson: Canadian participation in war, role of nurses in war, women’s participation in war on home front, aid agencies; military medicine.
Professor Deborah Neill: The origins of the First World War, the French Empire, weapons; Germany in WW I; African conscription, anti-colonization movements in Africa.
Professor Roberto Perin: Political stance of the first francophone Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and his successor Robert Borden, the wartime prime minister; incarceration of Ukrainians and other enemy aliens during WW I.
Professor Jennifer Stephen: Canada: Post-traumatic stress disorder, soldiers’ pensions after war; Canada’s political role in British Empire during and after WW I; conditions on the homefront; anti-VD campaign, women and war; military pensions.
Professor Kalman Weiser: Jewish population of eastern Europe before, during and after WWI; Balfour Declaration and Zionist movement.
Professor William Wicken: Canada: Aboriginal Canadians in war; courts martial of Canadian soldiers during war; soldiers returning home after war.
Professor Colin Coates:  Canada: French Canada’s role in the First World War.

NOTE: Still images from the First World War are available here.

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Media Contact:
Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 22094, suhasini@yorku.ca