Welcome to the Operation Canada Digital Project, which explores the diaries of the First World War through the lenses of gender, race, and culture. We hope you enjoy the adventure of exploring the many thousands of pages written by Canadians overseas and at home during times of stress more than a century ago.
About The Operation Canada Digital Project
The Operation Canada Digital Project has involved researching, locating, and transcribing representative and unpublished diaries from public and private archives in Canada. The goal has been to illuminate the writings of underexplored minority diarists including Indigenous and Black soldiers, as well as the role of women war workers. The project dismantles the gendered binary between the home front and the battlefield by figuring frontline soldiers’ personal writings alongside those of non-combatant workers behind the front lines and at home. In addition, writings during the post-Armistice era yield rare insight into the Spanish Influenza pandemic that ravaged the world.
“It has taken us years of intensive research to locate many fascinating personal war diaries,” explains Dr. Gammel, the director and principle investigator for the Operation Canada Digital Project.
“My team and I have transcribed selected diaries that we are making available digitally. We want readers to be able to immerse in these personal writings and drawings that reflect upon the turmoil of the era at the war front and at home. Principally, we want to shift the understanding of what we mean by war diary.”
Overall, the project aims to achieve an understanding of the war diary beyond the official regimental war diary written by officers, which embodies the official history. By contrast, personal war diaries were often small booklets that soldiers kept hidden, or day-by-day diaries kept by those on the home front in Canada to record their own immersion in this cataclysmic experience of upheaval and reconstruction.
The Operation Canada Digital Project database showcases nine diary authors: Allen Erastus Hager, Sol Eisen, Inga Johnson, Ruth Loggie, Charlotte Edith Monture, James S. Patrick, Percy Puley, Ella Isobel Rogers, and William Andrew White. The inclusion of this diverse set of authors aims to dismantle the binary between the male frontlines and female home front often created by official narratives, and to broaden our understanding of the war to include marginalized voices, such as those of First Nations people, people of colour, and other marginalized soldiers and civilians. Our team has built a digital database that includes high quality images of the physical diaries that these authors kept before, during, and after the war, as well as fully searchable text transcriptions of the contents within these diaries. We invite you to explore the resources available on this website, which functions as both an interactive research experience and a lasting memorial to those who served in the First World War overseas and on the home front.
Explore the Site
As our team continues to acquire diary images and finalize transcriptions of diary contents, new materials will be made available on this website. Both volumes of the diary of the Reverend William Andrew White are available as digital images and text transcriptions. You can also learn more about each of the diarists in our project and contribute your own transcription as part of a crowdsourced transcription project.