How did World War One im­pact Nova Sco­tia?

Book pro­vides in-depth study of the war’s ef­fects on the prov­ince

The Queens County Advance - - ATLANTIC CANADA REMEMBERS - BY DAR­RELL COLE AMHERST NEWS dar­rell.cole@amher­st­ Twit­ter: @Ad­ndar­rell

When Nova Sco­tians were fight­ing in France a cen­tury ago they were leav­ing a prov­ince that was much dif­fer­ent than it is today. But, in some ways it’s very sim­i­lar.

Brian Dou­glas Ten­nyson cap­tures a prov­ince com­ing to terms with the First World War in his book Nova Sco­tia at War: 19141919, pub­lished by Nim­bus Pub­lish­ing and launched Nov. 9.

While his­to­ri­ans have writ­ten books about Canada’s role in the first war, Ten­nyson said very few have cap­tured Nova Sco­tia’s con­tri­bu­tion to the war ef­fort or how its peo­ple were im­pacted by a war many thought would be over in months as op­posed to years.

“This book is writ­ten for the pub­lic and us­ing the Nova Sco­tia Ar­chives I was able to use the prov­ince’s news­pa­pers to get a sense of what life was like and how the war im­pacted Nova Sco­tians,” Ten­nyson said.

In nine chap­ters, Ten­nyson chron­i­cles what the war was about, not only for the fight­ing men who went thou­sands of kilo­me­tres to live, fight and die in France, but also for those who stayed – the farm­ers, the fish­er­men and the civil­ians who worked in fac­to­ries on the home front. about the econ­omy or the guy who signed up. There is a lot of lo­cal colour about peo­ple, what they did and the eco­nomic as­pects of the war. It’s not all about the boys over­seas fight­ing.”

War, he said, changed Nova Sco­tia as well as the men who went to war. More than 35,000 men served in the armed forces. While not all went over­seas, the vast ma­jor­ity did and Ten­nyson said you can’t ex­pe­ri­ence that sort of thing with­out be­ing changed.

For many com­mu­ni­ties, such as Amherst, Truro, Yar­mouth and Bridge­wa­ter, the war im­pacted the econ­omy and pro­vided a bit of a bub­ble in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of ev­ery­thing from shells to pants.

For Amherst, war’s ar­rival helped turned back sev­eral years of re­ces­sion. It also be­came a stopover for reg­i­ments on their way to war as well as home to the largest pris­oner of war in­tern- ment camp in the coun­try.

Kentville ben­e­fited from hav­ing the largest train­ing cen­tre in east­ern Canada nearby while the war’s re­quire­ments for sup­plies and ma­te­rial breathed new life into fac­to­ries from Yar­mouth to Syd­ney.

Ten­nyson also talks about the Halifax Ex­plo­sion as well as the war at sea and the role of ports in Halifax and Syd­ney in get­ting sup­plies and sol­diers to Eng­land. It also touches on the end of the war, the re­turn of the sol­diers and how the eco­nomic bub­ble burst in many com­mu­ni­ties and forced many of the re­turn­ing young men to leave the prov­ince for op­por­tu­ni­ties in the west and the United States.


Brian Dou­glas Ten­nyson’s book Nova Sco­tia at War: 1914-1919 is an in-depth study of the prov­ince’s role in what was, at the time, the most trau­matic col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in the his­tory of Canada.

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