Cana­dian his­to­rian com­ing to Colby-Cur­tis

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

The past just about springs to life when Dr. Des­mond Mor­ton starts talk­ing about Cana­dian mil­i­tary his­tory, and it’s not al­ways the same his­tory story that you learnt in school. Dr. Mor­ton, a Cana­dian mil­i­tary, po­lit­i­cal and in­dus­trial his­to­rian who has writ­ten over thirty books, will be re­turn­ing as the

guest speaker at the Colby-Cur­tis Mu­seum’s Lec­ture Lun­cheon, this Satur­day, June 14th.

A part-time Ge­orgeville res­i­dent, Dr. Mor­ton will speak about the role of the Town­ships unit the 5th Cana­dian Mounted Ri­fles in the First World War with a talk en­ti­tled o W at d d owns ers do n t e

reat War Daddy “I want to ex­plain how the mil­i­tary got or­ga­nized in this re­gion. The 5th Cana­dian Mounted Ri­fles re­cruited men from Ge­orge Baker’s unit. He was a Tory MP for Brome, and the only MP who died in the war,” said Dr. Mor­ton in an in­ter­view with the Stanstead Jour­nal. “Ev­ery Cana­dian di­vi­sion usu­ally has a first bat­tle and it’s a dis­as­ter. You learn from hard ex­pe­ri­ence to get it right. Many Town­ship­pers died or were badly wounded in the bat­tle of Mont Sor­rel, in 1916.”

The prac­ti­cal side of Town­ship­pers long ago was high­lighted when Dr. Mor­ton ex­plained why there were so many ‘Mounted’ Reg­i­ments in the Town­ships. “If a farmer went to war and he brought his horse, they both got paid. So Town­ship­pers be­came Mounted Ri­fles.”

War was as en­twined with pol­i­tics at the time of the First World War as it is to­day, if not more so. “Sam Hughes was an MP and the Min­is­ter of Mili­tia who in­ter­est­ingly burnt all of his pa­pers when he left of­fice. He took the Ross Ri­fle to war, a ri­fle that was known to be of poor qual­ity and of­ten jammed dur­ing use, but he be­lieved it was won­der­ful… A Ross Ri­fle fac­tory opened in his con­stituency,” com­mented the his­to­rian.

One of Dr. Mor­ton’s re­cent

books, sto re l ta re des anad ens ran a s ou

uebe o s likely con­tains in­for­ma­tion not com­monly learnt in his­tory class, un­less it’s one of the au­thor’s own classes at McGill Univer­sity. “As long as Marois was in of­fice, that book would not be in schools,” he said, con­tin­u­ing: “Who do you think won the Bat­tle of the Plains of Abra­ham? The French army came back in the spring and beat Mur­ray’s gar­ri­son. When I dis­cov­ered these facts, it made me won­der why I was told the other story.”

“I’ve writ­ten text books for the govern­ment, his­tory books, that I’ve had my name taken off of be­cause the in­for­ma­tion in the book was changed. Any­thing that could pos­si­bly cause of­fence is taken out. All the prov­inces do it; Que­bec just does it more openly.”

Dr. Mor­ton sounded ap­pre­cia­tive when he spoke about the Town­ship­pers he’d met who are as fas­ci­nated with his­tory as he is. “I dis­cov­ered a lot more about the his­tory of this re­gion af­ter mov­ing here. People in the Ge­orgeville His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety and the Stanstead His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety have been very help­ful. And there are those people who care about his­tory, who know it and who come to my lec­tures. ‘Did you know about this?’ they might say. They en­rich the ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one,” said Dr. Mor­ton, who hopes his up­com­ing lec­ture will be “more of a con­ver­sa­tion” with the au­di­ence than a lec­ture.

“The fas­ci­na­tion for me about the his­tory of this re­gion is not that the United Em­pire Loy­al­ists crossed the bor­der, but that these Amer­i­cans, like Cap­tain Copps, be­came loyal Cana­di­ans.”

For in­for­ma­tion about this Satur­day’s lec­ture lun­cheon, which takes place in the Mu­seum’s new so­lar­ium and be­gins at 10:00 am, or to re­serve a place, call 819 Dr. Des­mond Mor­ton, a Rhodes Scholar and au­thor of over thirty books on Cana­dian his­tory, is the guest speaker at the Colby-Cur­tis Mu­seum, this Satur­day. 876-7322.

A new tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tion en­ti­tled “Re­mem­ber­ing our soldiers of the Great War” will open at the Mu­seum on the same day and will com­ple­ment Dr. Mor­ton’s lec­ture. This ex­hi­bi­tion will fo­cus on the ex­pe­ri­ence of Stanstead men who took part in the First World War.

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