You are here

Making History Alumni Newsletter

Issue 3 | November 24, 2014

Dear alumni and friends of the History Department:

Gary Bruce

It gives me great pleasure to again send to you the fall 2014 edition of the department's newsletter, Making History. You will see that our faculty, students, and alumni have had a busy summer and fall. What I find particularly striking in reading through these pages is the manner by which the study of  History has changed over time. Far from the memorization of dates - if that was ever really at the heart of historical studies - we now find faculty and students engaged in digital history, 3-D printing, and working in the banking and high-tech sector, while still engaging in traditional, and vital, archival research. I think this change speaks well to the vitality and adaptability of our discipline.

Gary Bruce

Professor and Chair of the Department of History Department


Did they really think it would be “Over by Christmas”?

By Shelby Riddell, M.A.

Working with sources from London, ON, and Winnipeg, MB, Shelby Riddell (M.A., 2014) produced a Major Research Paper challenging the idea that the Canadians thought the First World War would be ‘over by Christmas’ when it broke out in the summer of 1914. Ms. Riddell is currently pursuing a post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communications and Public Relations from Sheridan College. Shelby hopes that the research, writing and public speaking skills she developed during her M.A. at the University of Waterloo will help her transition into the communications field.

The phrase ‘the war will be over by Christmas,’ or the assertion that people around the world expected the war to be short, has become a ‘hook’ in Canadian literature on the First World War. This assertion in the Canadian narrative has yet to be questioned or investigated. A case study of two Canadian cities, London, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba uncovered how Canadians read about the possible length of the First World War immediately preceding and following the outbreak of the war on 4 August 1914. Responses were complex, nuanced and were surprisingly knowledgeable, which contrasts the existing narrative in which Canadians are portrayed as naive and unaware of the true realities of war.

Uniformed soldiers standing in front of a train carriage, London Ontario, 1914

       London Advertiser, 20 August 1914


Newspapers were used to understand what Canadians were presented with during the summer of 1914 about the possible length of the war. In The London Free Press, The London Advertiser and The Manitoba Free Press articles predicting a short war dominated in late July and early August, focusing on finances and old naval faith, but as events developed in the week after war was declared, articles predicting a short or a long war were presented in the newspapers simultaneously. After 18 August, articles predicting a long war came to dominate newspapers in response to the mobilization for the First Canadian Contingent, news of the Battle of the Frontiers raging along the Belgium-France Border, and the announcement that a Second Canadian Contingent would be raised.  Articles predicting a long war were numerous and varied, but overall indicate that a sophisticated and well-informed discussion surrounding the probability of a long war had developed in Canadian newspapers.

By the end of August, numerous long war articles were printed on almost daily basis, constantly presenting Londoners and Winnipeggers with the prediction that the war would be long. The articles presented in both communities originated from local, national and international newspapers, demonstrating that the discussion surrounding the longevity of the war was more nuanced than previously thought. Although it cannot be definitively stated that people in London, Winnipeg, and the surrounding areas understood that the war would indeed be long, it can be demonstrated that they were presented with that prediction during the summer of 1914. By the end of August 1914 the idea that the war could be long, and that Canadians needed to prepare for a drawn-out struggle, dominated daily newspapers in at least two Canadians cities. Although many scholars have assumed that Canadians expected a short war, London and Winnipeg serve as proof that residents in at least two major Canadian cities likely understood that the war would be long by mid-August, 1914.


Waterloo Banking Project: A new institution by students, for students.

Ryan Chen-Wing (4B Joint Honours History and Economics) is the and project leader at the Waterloo Banking Project, a new institution which will operate like a credit union, and aims to assist students in taking control of their finances. Putting the project in historical context, Chen-Wing says:

I believe that the study and practice of history helps us interpret disparate sources of information into a coherent narrative. Such skills we gain in our discipline have been helpful to me in planning Waterloo Banking Project the first student-run financial services in Canada. Business and entrepreneurship  often involve planning and problem solving with a dearth of information, so studying the world and human experience across time not only offers ample analogies for situations we face now but also the tools to relate them to decisions we must make.

Read the full story on page 41 of the Technology Spotlight 2014, published by the Waterloo Region Record.

Follow Ryan and The Waterloo Banking Project on Twitter to keep up with the project as it goes live in the coming months: @ryanchenwing and @WaterlooBanking!


Making History: 3D-printed sword hilts bring history to life

3D Printed Italian Swept Rapier HiltPhilip Markowski decided to literally make history for his final project in Digital History during the winter 2014 term: he created 3D-printed rapier hilts. Markowski documented his research and his challenges learning to use SketchUp to create the printable files in a blog, Getting a Hold on History: Sketching Up the Past. Check out the blog—and download his files if you have access to a 3D printer!

In addition to the Italian Swept Hilt pictured at the left, Markowski also created a Spanish Cup Hilt and a German Pappenheimer Hilt.

Rebel Youth: Professor Ian Milligan publishes his first book

Professor Ian Milligan, who joined our department in 2012, has just published his first book: Rebel Youth: 1960s Labour Unrest, Young Workers, and New Leftists in English Canada (UBC Press, 2014).

During the “long sixties” – between 1964 and 1973 – baby boomers raised on democratic postwar ideals demanded a more egalitarian society for all. While a few became vocal leaders at universities across Canada, nearly 90% of Canada’s young people went straight to work after high school. There, they brought the anti-authoritarian spirit of the youth revolt to the labour movement.

Cover of Rebel Youth by Ian Milligan

The book is available for purchase from the UBC Press. It is being re-released in paperback on January 15th, 2015.

While university-based activists combined youth culture with a new brand of radicalism to form the New Left, young workers were pressing for wildcat strikes and defying their aging union leaders in a wave of renewed militancy that swept the country. In Rebel Youth, Milligan looks at these converging currents, demonstrating convincingly how they were part of a single youth phenomenon. With just short of seventy interviews complementing the extensive use of archival records, this book reveals a youth current that, despite regional differences, spanned an intellectual network from Halifax to Victoria that read the same publications, consulted the same thinkers, and found inspiration in the same shared ideas.

Rebel Youth draws important connections between the stories of young workers and the youth movement in Canada, claiming a central place for labour and class in the legacy of this formative decade.

It has received enthusiastic early endorsements and reviews. Sean Mills at the University of Toronto has called it “a must-read for anyone interested in the 1960s in particular, or Canadian history more generally.” The University of Regina’s James Pitsula has called it “a highly readable and important work that brings young Canadians who were in the workforce – rather than attending university – into the conversation about what the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s were all about.” And in Blacklock’s Reporter, parliamentary reporter Holly Doan has praised the “meticulous research and interviews” and argues that Rebel Youth provides “the plain truth about Canada in the 1960s.”


Autumn Graduates: Congratulations!

Congratulations to our newest History graduates! The Fall 2014 convocation saw four bachelor's, twelve master's, and three doctorate degrees conferred. The Department of History wishes the very best to the graduates.


2014 Graduate Travel Grant Award Winners

Andrew McLaughin, Ph.D. Candidate

United States National Archives II in College Park, Maryland

McLaughlin was awarded a 2014 University of Waterloo History Department Travel Grant, which provided the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. There he visited and worked from the United States National Archives II in College Park, Maryland for five consecutive days, where he explored various record groups related to his dissertation on United States Military Public Affairs policy and operations. The record groups he accessed included Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Army, which provided important Cold War and Vietnam-era primary source materials including Public Affairs case files; transcripts from the 1948 Public Relations Advisory Council; internal records regarding the development of Public Information Principles; and correspondence concerning the United States Senate’s  1971 Fulbright Hearings on Vietnam between Democratic Senator J. William Fulbright’s office and the Department of Defense. These sources will inform McLaughlin’s dissertation by providing significant insight into the development of Public Affairs policies, their implementation, and the consequences related to them.

Andrew McLaughin's desk in the US National Archive II

Brian McNamara, M.A. Candidate

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Archive in Ann Arbor, Michigan

My Major Research Project (MRP) concerned America’s foreign policy toward Angola in the mid-1970s. After Portugal announced its plans to decolonize in 1974, Angola was thrown into turmoil, as three rival factions sought to take control of the country. While two of these factions were anti-communist, the third was not, making what had been a tribal war for independence into a larger proxy conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Coming, as it did, in the wake of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, the Angolan War for Independence carried important implications in both domestic and foreign policy. It would help to shape both the manner in which the United States involved itself in military engagements, and the way in which the executive and Congress collaborated – or, as the case may be, could not come to an agreement – on the direction of foreign policy.

Thanks to the Department of History’s generous travel grant, I was able to travel to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Archive in Ann Arbor Michigan. I spent two days combing through primary material, and was able to access a number of sources that had not yet been digitized which served to strengthen the breadth and depth of both my research and analysis.

My experience in the Tri-University program generally and at Waterloo specifically was excellent. The supportive faculty members and departmental staff made my year overwhelmingly pleasant and smooth. With the wide range of courses available, and the diverse expertise of the faculty, this program is a strong one for graduate students to consider.


Stay connected

We are committed to communicating important news and events with you. We would also love to hear where your life has led you since completing your degree, so please share your story with us.


Follow us on social media!


Comments, questions, corrections? Contact Anne Leask.

Your gifts to the University of Waterloo provide vital funding to attract and support the world's top students, educators, and researchers, and build the programs and facilities to seed the discoveries of tomorrow.

Donate Now button

  1. Select payment method
  2. Under “Where would you like to designate your gift?” choose “Select Other Projects” from the drop down menu
  3. Under “Area of Giving” choose “Faculty of Arts” from the drop down menu
  4. Under “Project”, choose “Other”
  5. Type "History Department" in the “Other” box

Your gifts to the University of Waterloo provide vital funding to attract and support the world's top students, educators, and researchers, and build the programs and facilities to seed the discoveries of tomorrow.

Donate to UW

  1. Select payment method
  2. Under “Where would you like to designate your gift?” choose “Select Other Projects” from the drop down menu
  3. Under “Area of Giving” choose “Faculty of Arts” from the drop down menu
  4. Under “Project”, choose “Other”
  5. Type "History Department" in the “Other” box