Exploring Conflict and Its Aftermath

March 28, 2023

History lives on in the words of those who were there, making oral history projects essential to our understanding of world events. At the Canadian War Museum, In Their Own Voices: Stories From Canadian Veterans and Their Families is helping to preserve the memories of those who have experienced the unthinkable, while also developing a compelling archive for the benefit of current and future generations.

In Their Own Voices focuses on life after conflicts ranging from the Second World War and Korea, to the Cold War, peacekeeping missions, and the War in Afghanistan. Over the past year, significant progress has been made, including audio and video recordings of more than 100 veterans and their families.

Peter Godwin Chance

Peter Godwin Chance

Enthusiasm for the project has been growing, and the interviews are compelling, from Peter Godwin Chance, a 102-year-old veteran of the Battle of the Atlantic and of D-Day who, reflecting on his service, feels that he got to experience the “birth” of Canada as a nation. To Blanche Bennett, née Landry, a C.W.A.C. veteran of the Second World War. Blanche spoke of the enduring bonds she felt with the women with whom she served and how these bonds were rekindled through reunions

The scope of the interviews has been wide-ranging. Interviewees from all conflicts have described their post-war transitions as everything from relatively easy to extremely challenging. Several noted the shock of post-war discrimination, based on religion, race and culture. Others described the trauma of the ill-conceived LGBTQ Purge. Many also spoke of comradeship, and how hard it can be for outsiders to relate.

Blanche Bennett

Blanche Bennett
Photo : Courtesy of Barbara Spence

As recordings continue, the collected interviews and related research are being transformed into educational resources for educators and students. Over the next three years, the project will also involve the creation of a user-friendly online web resource, a veterans’ conference, and a legacy publication.

In Their Own Voices is expanding our understanding of the true cost of conflict. By generously sharing their experiences, Canada’s military veterans, along with their families, are leaving a legacy, while making themselves heard.

In Their Own Voices: Stories From Canadian Veterans and Their Families is completely funded by donors including The A. Britton Smith Family, Azrieli Foundation, Arthur B.C. Drache, C.M., Q.C. and Judy Young Drache, The Royal Canadian Legion, Legion National Foundation, Friends of the Canadian War Museum, Robert Stollery, in honour of his service in the Second World War, Colonel (Ret’d) Stanley A. Milner, OC, AOE, MSM, CD, LL.D., and individuals from across Canada. We are most grateful for their generous support. 

For more information on how to be involved, contact Linda Kincaid, Director, Major Gifts and Campaigns at linda.kincaid@warmuseum.ca