Agenda ’18

Canadian Memorialisation
the Canadian war memorial at St. Julien


Gateways to the First World War
The In Flanders Fields Museum and the University of Kent (School of History) present a series of eight seminars on Thursday evening, free and open to all.

The four lectures in Ieper are scheduled at 7.15pm and take place in the reading room of the In Flanders Fields Museum, Sint-Maartensplein 3.


Thursday 16 November 2017, 7.15pm
Canadian Memorialisation
a case study of the Canadian war memorial at St. Julien
Natasha Silk (PhD student, University of Kent)

The focus of this talk will be the ‘Brooding Soldier’, the Canadian war memorial at St. Julien. This paper will explore how Canada conducted its memorialisation process; considering how Canadian memorialisation of the war forms its own legacy separate from the British memory of the war. It will explore the prominent nation building myth that exists within Canadian memorials to the dead of the First World War, most impressively demonstrated at Vimy Ridge. However, the ‘Brooding Soldier’ occupies an alternative space within memorial practice as it is a depiction of grief.

Significantly, this memorial was designed by a veteran, and so the talk will use the memorial to consider how soldiers’ grief was or was not incorporated in the post war memorialisation practices. Through the exploration of the symbolism of the site for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, this talk will consider why certain sites were chosen for memorials, and in this particular case, how the site helped to forge a national identity for Canada in the post war era. It will then go on to consider the reactions to the memorial once it was built. By doing this, the paper will explore how the site came to be unique, and how the Commonwealth War Graves Commission made efforts to re-inscribe the memorial with meaning after it had been erected at St. Julien.

Canadian Memorialisationthe Canadian war memorial at St. Julien