Exploring the Unseen Narratives

February 13, 2024

A faded service flag is on display in the Museum’s First World War home front gallery. Four maple leaves are stitched on to a white background, surrounded by faded red cotton. The flag was displayed by the Adie family in St. Catharines, Ontario during the war. Each maple leaf represents a son who was serving overseas: John, Robert, Archibald and Allan.

Only Robert made it home to his parents.

Exhibit showing images of families from the First World War

Canadian War Museum – CWM 2015-0016-0020-Dm

I think of the grief and sorrow that is embedded in that simple flag. I think of the pride in service, too. That and more is represented in this evocative artifact.

And yet, artifacts and objects do not speak for themselves. Some can move viewers by sight, others can make one recoil in horror. But most need their stories to be told. Without them, the rich history of Canadian soldiers — and how war has shaped people in Canada – will be lost.

At the Canadian War Museum, we are responsible for acquiring and stewarding several hundred thousand artifacts, objects, artworks and archival collections for this generation and future ones.

Faded flag with four maple leaves in a row

Banner – CWM 20070073-001 – Canadian War Museum

Our collection specialists and historians are always researching in our holdings. They dig deep into the history books and the archives. They interview veterans and their families. This research is the lifeblood of the Museum.

And now, at the Canadian War Museum, a new Research Fellowship will allow an emerging scholar the opportunity to delve deep into the collection, and to create and share new knowledge.

Funded by nearly 700 individuals across the country, this project has resonated. These generous donors are passionate about our military history and the objects in the Museum, and we are grateful for that.

Our inaugural Research Fellow is Brittany Dunn, who will be joining us from Wilfrid Laurier University. As a scholar, Brittany has studied death and grief in the Great War, and she is excited to have the opportunity to explore artifacts, objects and artwork around that difficult topic.

In November, we welcomed  Brittany to the War Museum team for a year, and we look forward to the many benefits from the research that she conducts into the Museum’s collection. Research is the foundation for all that we do, from exhibitions to public programs, from collections to social media.

Welcome Brittany, and thanks to the donors who were so generous in their support, with special thanks to Dr. John Scott Cowan, Sir Cyril Woods and Friends of the Canadian War Museum.

Tim Cook, CM, FRSC, Ph.D.
Chief Historian and Director of Research, Canadian War Museum