The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on The First World War

A Curated Exhibit by Laura Robinson

Laura Robinson, head of the Department of English at RMC, will be heading off to France on Sunday 15 June to launch her new exhibit, “The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on The First World War.” This exhibit pairs Montgomery’s words with reproductions of clothing, newspapers, photographs, artwork, a silent film, and other artefacts to illustrate the war’s effect on ordinary Canadian women. Most well-known for her iconic Anne of Green Gables (1908) about the red-haired orphan who finds a home on Prince Edward Island, Montgomery also kept copious journals throughout her life which offer insight into the mind of this prolific writer and reveal her often strong opinions about current affairs.  The First World War erupted early in her writing career, and her journals demonstrate her worries, concerns, and emotions surrounding this devastating war.  She also wrote the first novel in Canada to celebrate the home front: Rilla of Ingleside (1921).  This exhibit visually illustrates Montgomery’s descriptions of ongoing daily life, women’s traditional and newfound labour, the technology that shaped war news, a new understanding of global politics and geography, and the devastating pressures on men. Perhaps most importantly, Montgomery underscores the bravery and fortitude of the girls and women at home who carried on in the face of a far-away war.

Generously funded with a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Grant, this exhibit will be at the European University of Brittany in Rennes France from 17-19 June 2014 for the War Memories: Commemoration, Re-enactment, Writings of War in the English-speaking World (18th-21st centuries) International Conference, the Confederation Centre Public Library in Charlottetown from 25-29 June for the L.M. Montgomery and War International Conference, at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library 13-27 September 2014, at the National Historic Site in Leaskdale, Ontario in October 2014, and at the North York Public Library in Toronto in early 2015.  Alumni and friends in any of the areas are more than welcome to come check it out!