Northern Voices of the Great War: Personal Perspectives and Narratives from Northern British Columbians


  • Maureen L. Atkinson University of Northern British Columbia


Oral History, Rural, British Columbia, Women, Indigenous, First World War


The Northern Review 44 (2017): 355–370

The Great War “ruined everything,” according to northern British Columbia resident Vicky (Aldous) Sims in CBC interview from the mid 1960s. A powerful statement to be sure, but is it a true or accurate reflection? The following article features the voices and perspectives of northern British Columbians, to frame their lived experiences within the wider Canadian historical context of the First World War. As the perspectives and memories of these citizens suggest, the war touched every aspect of life even in the most isolated parts of the province; from the cost of basic food stuffs and supplies, to the demands of volunteerism and women’s domestic work and the participation of Indigenous peoples in the war effort, the very fabric of the society was altered. By reviewing the lived experiences and first personal narratives with the larger historical record it becomes clear that the Great War truly transformed the lives of every Canadian, even those in rural northern regions. This article is part of a special collection of papers originally presented at a conference on “The North and the First World War,” held May 2016 in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Author Biography

Maureen L. Atkinson, University of Northern British Columbia

Sessional Instructor, UNBC; PhD Candidate, History, University of Waterloo






The North and the First World War