Turning the Tide:
1939 to D-Day.
D-Day to the Rhine.
Endings and Beginnings:
National Film Board of Canada, 1995.
3 hours (two 1/2 hour segments per
volume), VHS, $49.95.
World War, 1939-1945-Canada.
World War, 1939-1945-Personal narratives, Canadian.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Ian Stewart.
Canada Remembers is not a controversial documentary work.
It stays well away from the morally questionable or otherwise flawed
strategy of allied military planners. The devious political policy makers
of Ottawa, Washington, London, and Moscow do not rate a mention. This
film is about something more important than battles, politics, and
economic policies. Canada Remembers concerns itself with
the will, the worth, the adaptability, and the humanity of a nation's
With Canada Remembers, the National Film Board of
Canada, in association with Veterans Affairs Canada, has produced a
magnificent and moving tribute to the ordinary Canadian's contribution to
the defeat of Nazi evil and to the building of a nation.
"We believed," said Farley Mowat, a young lieutenant in 1939,
"that beyond all the propaganda there was a virulent evil to be stopped
and we devoted ourselves to that cause." Canada's armed forces and those
who "kept the home fires burning" recreated the nation through their
incredible national effort.
Through the use of archival films and photographs, and first-person
recollections of Canada's male and female veterans, merchant seamen,
nurses, factory workers, farmers, and those who were children, the film's
creators aim to connect young Canadians with the meaning World War II
had, and continues to have, to a generation that will soon pass into
The volumes run chronologically through the six war years. Volume 1,
Turning the Tide: 1939 to D-Day begins the story of Canada's
transformation from a depressed rural nation to a modern, urban society with
an industrial economy. It portrays those Canadians who
fought and died in the Battle of Britain, and in battles in the North
Atlantic, in Sicily, in Asia, and at Dieppe, and on convoy duty. Volume
2, The Liberators: D-Day to the Rhine continues the story of
Canada's soldiers battling their way through France, Holland, and
Belgium, and of the war effort at home that supported them. Volume 3,
Endings and Beginnings tells the story of the war's end, and the
social and economic effect the war had on the generation of men and women
that lived through it. It provides a basis for further discussion on the
"new" Canada of the post-war era.
Many men, whether they were farmers, small-town boys, or
city-dwellers, joined the armed forces. Women's roles were transformed as
they joined the auxiliary military services, learned to run the family
farm, or entered the swelling industrial work force. But the films also
show that Canada was not a perfect place.
The institutionalized racism of the 1940s is not ignored, nor is the
overt sexual stereotyping Canadian women faced in the factory and the
armed forces -- and at home, when the men returned from active duty.
"Life," said a farm wife whose husband was in Europe, "ran on the radio
news schedule; the safety of those overseas was always on our mind."
Canada faced the grim reality of war, and war is an ugly thing. Its
horrors are not glossed over in Canada Remembers. But the
images of death and the veteran's emotional stories are honest and told
with deserving dignity and nobility.
Canada Remembers ought to be used in schools. It is a
valuable supplement to any Canadian or modern history program, and to
Remembrance Day observations. The presentation of the dramatic material
will hold students' interest and should produce a great deal of
discussion. Each segment begins with a short review of the previous one's
conclusion to aid classroom continuity. A teacher's resource guide, which
includes background material, questions, and a short bibliography, is
included with the collection. The bibliography is particularly well
suited to high school and public library collections. The technical
quality of the production is excellent.
Any social studies department or high school library that does not
spend $49.95 to include Canada Remembers in its video
collection does a disservice to its students and to the war-time
Ian Stewart has an M.A. In history from the University of Manitoba,
and has been variously employed as a bookstore manager, substitute
teacher, teaching assistant, librarian, and bartender. He is currently
working at a Winnipeg elementary school and the University of Winnipeg
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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