National myths and Pivotal Battles: The Case of Vimy

  • Dr. Rob Rutherdale


This work on local responses to Canada's Great War examines public perceptions of the war overseas through studies of local parades, speeches, and the steady stream of newspaper reporting of a distant war overseas--a war imagined. The focus is  on the earliest reports of the significance of Vimy Ridge as a strategically important and symbolically significant event. With respect to the battle as a Canadian-led victory, one might assume that real power of this battle "imagined" came later, especially during the interwar period when popular images of Vimy helped fuel the powerful nation-building thesis that Jonathan Vance has considered. Through these contrasting accounts, he traces the origins of the battle's most powerful symbolism back to first public stories in Canada of the Canadian Corps at Vimy, from descriptions of the fighting itself and ultimate victory to the earliest attempts to generate the meaning of Vimy for all Canadians.

Author Biography

Dr. Rob Rutherdale

Dr. Rob Rutherdale has subject matter expertise in the political and social history of World War One. He has taught modern Canadian history at Trent University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of the Fraser Valley, the University of Northern British Columbia, and the University of British Columbia, before joining the Department of History at Algoma University, where he has taught since 2003.  His articles on local responses in Canada wartime demands during the First World War have appeared in the Canadian Historical Review and Histoire Sociale/Social History.  He has also served as a consultant on early wartime mobilization for Images of a Forgotten War/Images d'une Guerre Oubliée, an online project launched in by the National Film Board of Canada/Office Nationa du Film du Canada. 

Vimy 2017: From Both Sides of the Ridge