Canadian historian coming to Colby-Curtis
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.