Was Canada’s Great War a glorious struggle leading to ‘the birth of a nation,’ or a calamitous, divisive plunge into ‘the vortex of European militarism’? For the former Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, the Centenary was a golden chance to celebrate an indomitable ‘warrior nation,’ forged by ‘Johnny Canuck’ in the fires of France and Flanders – a myth it hoped to see embodied in a towering ‘Mother Canada’ statue on the rocks of Green Cove in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Closely involved in the successful struggle to stop the statue, Cape Breton University’s Lee-Anne Broadhead and Sean Howard present ‘Mother Canada’ as an example of ‘repressive remembrance,’ contrasting it with a landmark exhibition in Ottawa juxtaposing the work of two Great War painters – one Canadian, one German – illustrating the power of art to generate a ‘critical remembrance’ of conflict.
Lee-Anne Broadhead is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University College of Cape Breton, Canada.
Sean Howard is an Adjunct Professor at the University College of Cape Breton, Canada.