Canadian Military History and Twitter

Published on December 6, 2021

 Brad St.Croix 

Military history is currently undergoing many exciting changes. The field is widening in its scope to include more topics informed by the practices used in cultural, economic, gender, and social history. A greater diversity of historians are now working in the field. Military history is no longer just maps of unit movements and pictures of tanks and artillery. Another important change is military history scholars are embracing the digital world. Everything from the digitization of documents, augmented reality at historic sites, and livestreamed conferences are utilizing the benefits of digital history.

My field of study, Canadian military history, is benefitting from these changes. The digital revolution has increased the accessibility of the stories of Canada’s military past and has helped to spread the knowledge that comes from studying the subject. The increasing digitization has also increased participation from non-specialists’ in the field, who bring new perspectives and ideas about how Canadian military history is presented and understood.

As someone who works on Canadian military history every day, I think one of the most exciting digital areas for Canadian military history right now is Twitter. I have a PhD in history from the University of Ottawa, and I also run an account called On This Day in Canadian Military History, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

I’ve learned that Twitter is a great place to discuss historical topics, learn about new projects and lines of inquiry, and simply engage with others interested in history. A great community has developed that supports each other by sharing information and resources. One of the best ways to learn about history using Twitter is to engage with the conversations taking place. It can be a bit daunting at first to get involved, but simply interacting with others is a great way to start.

I am also well-versed in the best accounts to follow on Twitter for teaching about military history. Many historians, museums professionals, teachers, and people interested in history, along with numerous historical organizations, are on Twitter. They offer information and analysis that can be used by educators to generate ideas for classroom discussions or assignments. Twitter also helps teachers and educators keep up to date on new findings and trends in military history. Here are a few of my favourite accounts to follow on Canadian military history.

Twitter Accounts to Follow

Canadian War Museum
https://twitter.com/CanWarMuseum (English) https://twitter.com/MusCanGuerre (French)

The Canadian War Museum is an excellent place to start if you are unfamiliar with the world of Canadian military history Twitter. They post about the work of the museum itself, its exhibitions, and special events at the museum. There are numerous educational projects designed to be used in the classroom including objects, games, and activities. This account also offers behind the scenes looks at objects in their collection.

Veterans Affairs Canada
https://twitter.com/VeteransENG_CA (English) https://twitter.com/VeteransFR_CA (French)

Veteran Affairs Canada’s Twitter account has two focuses. The first is to communicate about its work supporting veterans. The second is to commemorate the veterans of past conflicts and those who served in the Canadian Forces. Tweets often profile individual Canadian service members who were killed in the service of the country. These profiles include personnel from the world wars, the Korean War, peacekeeping missions, and Afghanistan. Stories from Canadian military history, such as battles and wars, are also often posted.

The Vimy Foundation
https://twitter.com/vimyfoundation 

The Vimy Foundation creates and operates educational program about the legacy of the First World War. Their Twitter account often posts information about their programs designed to engage Canada’s youth in the history of Canada and the world wars. Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 the organization sent  groups of students to tour Canadian battlefields of both world wars in Europe. These programs will be continued once the pandemic ends, and the account providing updates about the programs. It is a good follow for teachers as they can make their students aware of these opportunities and help them apply for the programs. They also routinely tweet about various events and individuals from Canada’s First World War.  

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
https://twitter.com/CWHM 

The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum has a collection of various historical aircraft dating back to the Second World War. For those with an interest in the material side of military history their Twitter account is an excellent one to follow because it often posts about the goings on at the museum, the maintenance of the aircraft, and videos of airworthy planes in flight. The planes are used to tell stories about Canadian aviators in various conflicts and those who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Project ‘44
https://twitter.com/project4_4 

The Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA), https://crma.ca/, is a small but dedicated group of people who present Canada’s participation in the Second World War in a whole new way. Through their innovative Project ‘44, they are mapping the movement of Canadian units in in both Northwest Europe and Italy during the Second World War. The CRMA have also created many story maps that tell stories of individual Canadians, single battles, or entire campaigns by combining digital maps with narratives that outline the details of the events being portrayed. Here is an example of this technique: https://southern-italy.project44.ca/

Carla-Jean Stokes
https://twitter.com/CarlaJeanStokes 

Carla-Jean is a war photography expert who focuses specifically on Canada and the First World War. She often posts threads about photographs from Canada’s wars and provides exemplary insight about the creation of the photographs and the people who took them. She discusses how photographs, often presented as the objective and literal truth, are as subjective as any other historical artifact or document. Following her will challenge your understanding of many famous photographs in Canadian military history.     

Conclusion

Twitter offers an exciting opportunity for history educators. It allows people to connect in new ways that benefit the study of Canadian military history. Twitter offers educators, and anyone with an internet connection, the ability to connect with historians and other history professionals and enthusiasts in an open forum. Although twitter has some drawbacks, the positives outweigh the negatives. It allows older topics of Canadian military history to have new life breathed into them, while also allowing new perspectives to flourish and grow. The increase of digital resources has brought the field of Canadian military history into the 21st century. Twitter is an important tool in this change and one that should be more readily utilized.

Brad St.Croix holds a PhD in history from the University of Ottawa, where he wrote his dissertation on the Canadian memory of the Battle of Hong Kong. He runs the digital history brand “On This Day in Canadian Military History,” which includes accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and a YouTube channel. His historical interests include the Canadian participation in the world wars, the commemoration and remembrance of conflict, and digital history.

 

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