Canadians at War: A Guide to the Battlefields of World War I
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by Susan Evans Shaw
Goose Lane, Fredericton, New Brunswick, 2011
352 pp., illus., $24.95 paperback
With its one hundredth anniversary quickly approaching, interest in the First World War is sure to increase significantly. More and more Canadians will no doubt make their way to Europe to explore the battlefields, monuments, and cemeteries where their ancestors fought and died.
Susan Evans Shaw’s interest in the war began the same way as that of many descendants of those who served — with an old shoebox of letters handed down from one generation to the next. Her grandfather was killed only weeks before the end of the war, and in his letters she finally began to understand the man she never knew.
When she followed in his footsteps on her own trip to Europe, she was inspired to share the memorials and cemeteries with other Canadians. The resulting book, Canadians at War: A Guide to the Battlefields of World War I, is divided into short day trips around key sites and towns in France and Belgium.
While her directions are not always easy to follow, Shaw recommends some widely available maps to complement her suggested trips. The book’s many historic maps provide readers with a sense of the ebb and flow of the battlefield, and it includes excellent historic and contemporary photos.
But what makes this book most accessible are its sense of discovery and the personal tone imparted by Shaw. Readers are allowed to share her interest and enjoyment at each discovery and unique location.
Pick up a copy of this excellent guidebook and start planning your own pilgrimage to mark the upcoming anniversary.
— Joel Ralph (Read bio)
Joel Ralph is the Education and Outreach Manager for Canada's History Society.