Laurier hosts Canadian military history conference

From April 29 through to May 1 Wilfrid Laurier University hosted the 21st annual Military History Colloquium. The conference, which rotates between Laurier, the University of Waterloo (UW) and the University of Western Ontario (UWO), brings together scholars of Canadian Military History, university students and military enthusiasts from Canada and abroad.

“From the beginning we have understood it was a place where an aspiring academic or an aspiring teacher could for the first time make a public presentation,” said Terry Copp, one of the founders of the colloquium and director of the Center for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) at Laurier.

“I’m tempted to say that if you can survive once or twice at our conference then you are ready to go almost anywhere in the outside world,” he said.

The conference has grown over time from 30 attendees in its first year to around 120 in 2010.

Many of this year’s participants were MA and PhD students, who were presenting academic papers.

Doug Delaney, chair of war studies at the Royal Military College felt that the conference was an excellent venue for different levels of military historians and enthusiasts to get together and interact.

“There’s a fair amount of mentoring,” said Delaney.

“In academia we tend to be a fairly exclusive lot but this is pretty open and there are a lot of people who come from the outside, so it’s good to be connected to this.”

Participating in his 15th colloquium, author Tim Cook noted that 50 or more papers were slated to be presented at the conference, more than ever before. He highlighted the diversity of topics over the entire span of the Canadian military’s history, from the War of 1812 to the nation’s role in Afghanistan.

Natascha Morrison, a Carleton University MA student and first-time presenter, discussed her paper which focuses on the changing face of Remembrance Day since its creation and how that relates to remembrance today.

Morrison explained that she chose to study Canadian military history because of its focus on “ideas of memory, commemoration and perception.”

Cook expressed how rich the experience was for young academics, such as Morrison, as well as the potential for others to attend and participate.

“If they knew about it, [they] would like to come, so I think one of our goals should be to get out there and get more of the general public [involved].”

The 22nd Military History Colloquium will be held at the University of Waterloo in May 2011.