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From the archives

Our Violent National Game

The great hockey debate continues

Pax Atlantica

NATO’s long-lasting relevance

J. L. Granatstein

J. L. Granatstein writes on Canadian political and military history. His books include Canada’s Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace.

Articles by
J. L. Granatstein

Out of Service

Inside a historic veterans’ hospital May 2024
The Dominion Orthopaedic Hospital opened in 1919, near the corner of Christie and Dupont Streets in Toronto, within a stone’s throw of the main Canadian Pacific rail line that still runs through the heart of the city. The building was not newly constructed; it was, in fact, a National Cash Register factory. Purchased by the federal government’s Military Hospitals Commission for $450,000 and soon renamed the Christie Street Veterans’…

The Rematch

Mackenzie King’s hat trick October 2023
Prime ministers can be forgotten. Richard Bedford Bennett governed from 1930 to 1935, and he has been the subject of relatively little scholarly research. Today very few Canadians even recognize his name. William Lyon Mackenzie King, however, has not been forgotten. He usually appears at or very near the top of historians’ rankings of the greatest prime…

Behind the Lines

Two depictions of the Great War January | February 2023
More than a century has passed since Armistice Day, and no men or women who served or fought behind the lines survive. Nonetheless, interest in the Great War remains high, and new material and new approaches continue to emerge. The Canadian Letters & Images Project, run on a shoestring out of Vancouver Island University, posts illuminating correspondence on its…

The Ramble

Memories from the PMO September 2022
We begin to realize we are in trouble in the first chapter, “From Colony to G7 Partner: Canada in a Global World.” One might assume it would explain our changing role in the world. Instead, the meat of the discussion concerns the Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney’s efforts, led by Charles McMillan, the author of this…

Tug of War

An army created out of nothing April 2022
As I have observed in these pages before, military history in our universities is in terminal decline. Few military historians are being hired; fewer courses are being taught. And many faculty members, from Fredericton to Victoria, look on those who do teach and write military history as warmongers. But in both the United States and…

Over Tokyo

Malcolm Gladwell’s point of view October 2021
The Allied bombing campaign of the Second World War remains hugely controversial. Postwar moralists — like a few critics during the war — have accused the politicians, air marshals, and generals who led the offensive of deliberately slaughtering innocent people. As some 250,000 Canadians served in the Royal Canadian Air Force at the time, the debates over the morality — or lack thereof — of the bombings have had their fierce partisans…

At Daggers Drawn

Margaret MacMillan soldiers on March 2021
Canadians don’t like to think about war. As the historian Tim Cook shows in his most recent book, The Fight for History, this country largely forgot about the Second World War for fifty years. It was only in the mid-1990s that Canadians were finally moved by the CBC’s coverage of D‑Day and V‑E Day anniversaries — coverage that showed what our soldiers had done and how they were remembered by those they had…

The Colossus

Notes on our twelfth prime minister January | February 2021
Louis St‑Laurent is almost forgotten by Canadians, and it is unlikely there will ever be a new biography: unfortunately (and inexplicably), his papers at Library and Archives Canada are scanty, devoid of interest. There is hardly anyone left to interview — the sole exception being Paul Hellyer, who entered the twelfth prime minister’s cabinet as associate minister of national defence two months before John Diefenbaker won power in…

A Farewell to Arms

Where did all the junk go? October 2020
I used to be in the war junk business. In 1998, I became the director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum, in Ottawa, for a two-year term. The museum had two buildings: its exhibit space was in the old Public Archives next to the Royal Canadian Mint, on Sussex Drive, and its storage warehouse was an old streetcar barn in the city’s west…

Harsh Treatment

Perspectives on internment July | August 2020
Afew days after Germany and the Soviet Union concluded their cynical pact in August 1939, which preceded the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police presented the Department of Justice with its plan for “suppressing subversive activities” at the outbreak of war. The RCMP proposed that Canada outlaw all Nazi, Fascist, and Communist…

A Persistent Myth

Whether effective or not, we love our peacekeepers June 2010
Military history is hugely popular in Canada. Wherever Canadian military history is taught, enrolments are very good. There are lineups at the University of New Brunswick, at Wilfrid Laurier University, at the University of Western Ontario and at the University of Calgary, to cite by name only a few. Moreover, while astonishingly little of note is being published in most areas of Canadian…