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Separate and distinct

Grenfell historian to participate in Great War conference in England

Research

By Pamela Gill

A Grenfell history professor will travel to England this summer to share a Newfoundland perspective of the Great War.

Dr. Bonnie White of Grenfell’s historical studies program will deliver a talk titled ‘Sorrow, Gratitude and Pride’: Newfoundland’s Cultural Memory of the Great War at the National Archives in Kew, U.K.

‘Various dichotomies’

Her talk focuses on how Newfoundland commemorates the war and its contribution to Newfoundland’s identity both prior to and after Confederation.

“I’ll be looking at various dichotomies, such as war front and home front, urban and rural reactions, personal accounts and public memorials,” said Dr. White.

“And on this last point, I’ll be talking about the Danger Tree monument in Corner Brook and the establishment of Memorial University as a whole, which together bridge the gap between the immediate aftermath of the war and the centenary.”

The Danger Tree sculpture at Grenfell Campus.
The Danger Tree sculpture at Grenfell Campus.
Photo: Lori Lee Pike

Dr. White sees the conference, titled The First World War and The Americas: From the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego, as an opportunity to present the Newfoundland experience as separate and distinct from the Canadian experience.

101-year anniversary

As the only presenter from Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. White welcomed the invitation to participate, “both because it was about public engagement and because it was a unique opportunity to highlight Newfoundland’s Great War experiences outside of the province and for an international audience.”

She characterizes the date of the conference – July 1 – as “interesting.” It marks 101 years since the battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.

Dr. White says that rather than commemorating the battles as its central focus, the conference will examine its influences on those at home.

“To understand the enduring cultural legacy of the war, at a time when loved ones at home had to come to terms with the war’s impact on their families, communities and nation,” she said, “but also now, as we retrospectively think back on the war and what it meant to us over the course of a century.”


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