Manitoba Historical Society
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Winnipeg’s Great War: A City Comes of Age

by Jim Blanchard

The University of Manitoba Press
September 2010

ISBN 978-0-88755-721-7
$24.95 (paper)

From the local best-selling author of Winnipeg 1912 comes the riveting next chapter in the city’s history. Winnipeg’s Great War picks up in 1914, just as the city is regrouping after a brief economic downturn. War comes unexpectedly, thoughts of recovery are abandoned, and the city digs in for a hard-fought four years.

Using letters, diaries, and newspaper reports, Jim Blanchard brings us into the homes and public offices of Winnipeg and its citizens to illustrate the profound effect the war had on every aspect of the city, from its politics and economy, to its men on the battlefield, and its war-weary families fighting on the home front. We witness the emergence of the city’s social welfare services through the work of women’s volunteer organizations; the political scandals that led to the fall of the Rodmond Roblin government; and the clash between independent jitneys and the city’s private transit company. And we hear the conflicted emotions that echoed in the city’s streets, from anti-foreign sentiment and labour unrest, to patriotic parades, and a spontaneous Victory Day celebration that refused to end.

Through these stories, Blanchard reveals how these crucial years set the stage for the decades ahead, and how the First World War transformed Winnipeg into the city it is today.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 — 1914

The Coming of War / Jewish Soldiers / Mobilizing the Civilian Population / Poor Women and the Patriotic Fund / The Manitoba Red Cross / Women’s Volunteer Reserve Corps / The IODE Goes to War / City Politics in 1914 / The 1914 Election

Chapter 2 — 1915

Recruiting the Second Contingent / The Second Battle of Ypres / “The War Has Struck Home” / Mourning the Wounded / Patriotic Week / “I have nothing but contempt for the man who can go but does not” / Training / Winnipeg Women in England / City Politics in 1915 / Jitneys and the Winnipeg Electric Railway / Provincial Politics—The Fall of Rodmond Roblin

Chapter 3 — 1916

“They lost their heads entirely”—The Winnipeg Police and the Soldiers’ Riot / “It Was Simply Hell”—The battles of 1916 / Deserters / The Norris Government

Chapter 4 — 1917

Winning at Any Cost / Hospitals / Conscription / Inflexible Determination / The Role of Women in Winning the War / The IODE Fights On

Chapter 5 — 1918

Conscientious Objectors / Exemptions, Treason, and Anti-Foreign Hysteria / The Jitney Problem Resolved / City Issues / Labour Organizing / Memorials / The End of the War


Books on Manitoba History

Posted: 8 September 2010, updated 27 October 2010

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