A Township at War takes the reader from rural Canadian field and farm to the slopes of Vimy Ridge and the mud of Passchendaele, and shows how a tightly knit Ontario community was consumed and transformed by the trauma of war.
In 1914, the southern Ontario township of East Flamborough was like a thousand other rural townships in Canada, broadly representative in its wartime experience. Author Jonathan Vance draws from rich narrative sources to reveal what rural people were like a century ago—how they saw the world, what they valued, and how they lived their lives. We see them coming to terms with global events that took their loved ones to distant battlefields, and dealing with the prosaic challenges of everyday life. Fall fairs, recruiting meetings, church services, school concerts—all are reimagined to understand how rural Canadians coped with war, modernism, and a world that was changing more quickly than they were.
This is a story of resilience and idealism, of violence and small-mindedness, of a world that has long disappeared and one that remains with us to this day.
“A beautifully written book by one of Canada’s best historians, A Township at War is a loving, brilliantly researched examination of the impact of the Great War on a largely rural area near Hamilton, Ontario. The war touched everyone, the local politicians and clergy, the mothers and sisters of the men who went off to fight, and those who returned and those who did not.” —J.L. Granatstein, author of Canada’s Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace and former Director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum
“A delightful read, not only because I seemed to be hearing about the small town of my childhood, but also because it is in the history of small things—the little towns and ordinary lives—that the might of big history lands, and so it is here. Vance's fine eye peers into hundreds of interesting corners. I rarely ‘treasure’ the large stories of history, but I do the small.” —Robert H. Thomson, producer, The World Remembers—Le monde se souvient