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The First World War’s 100th anniversary: a cinematic commemoration

The First World War’s 100th anniversary: a cinematic commemoration

The First World War’s 100th anniversary: a cinematic commemoration

It was 100 years ago, in August of 1914, that the first events of the Great War were set into motion. Here, we’ll take you through some compelling commemorative activities—both on and in various locales—that mark the centenary of the First World War.

Great war, new world, profound change

This devastating global conflict significantly changed the world: the death toll was catastrophic (over 9 million combatants died), and the industrial and technological changes as well as the emergence of many modern nation-states marked a transition from the late Victorian era to what we now think of as modernity.

Both Parks Canada and the Aviation and Space Museum are hosting free public screenings of WWI-themed films (scroll down for details), but we’re also hosting a great selection of WWI programming all week on For example, John McCrae’s War: In Flanders Fields gives us an inside look at the lives of the acclaimed wartime poet John McCrae and Alexis Helmer, the young man whose death inspired the iconic poem we all know so well.

John McCrae's War: In Flanders Fields, Robert Duncan, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Films at the Aviation and Space Museum: Aug. 2-4

What better way to explore the upheaval of wartime than through film? It’s telling that the Great War’s ushering in of modernity was accompanied by the invention of cinema—the cultural technology of modernity par excellence. In a sense, the pace, look, and feel of the lives we live today can all be traced back to the influence of that tumultuous time. Events are taking place both in Ottawa and across the country. If you find yourself in the nation’s capital, check out the Facebook event page for the Aviation and Space Museum‘s WWI programming. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • Aces: A Story of the First Air War asks “what was it really like to manoeuvre the first aircraft in battle?”
  • The award-winning Paris 1919, based on the acclaimed Margaret MacMillan book of the same name, examines the re-mapping of Europe in a peace treaty under the watchful eye of the leaders of the Allied powers after the war’s end.
  • The highly personal and poetic documentary Front Lines traces the events of the great war through the personal letters and diaries of 5 soldiers and a nurse.
  • Fields of Sacrifice offers a dignified tribute to the more than 100,000 Canadians who gave their lives on foreign soil, taking us from Sicily to Hong Kong to visit the historic battlegrounds of the past.

Head over here for details on screening dates and times.

*Note: due to the subject matter, these films are not recommended for younger audiences and parental discretion should be exercised.

Parks Canada screenings at national historic sites

A number of WWI-themed films will be screening on repeat at parks and historic sites across the country, thanks to Parks Canada, including To The Ladies, Paris 1919, With the Canadians in Korea, and many more. There is usually an admission fee to each site before you can see the films, and many of the sites will continue showing the films until well into mid-October. Will you be in the area? Check with these sites directly for information on activities taking place:

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada, Nova Scotia
HMCS Haida National Historic Site, Hamilton, Ontario
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites, British Columbia
Fort Wellington National Historic Site of Canada, near Brockville, Ontario
Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site of Canada, near Gravenhurst, Ontario
Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site of Canada, Saskatchewan
Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Canal National Historic Site, west of Montreal (NB: This screening takes place on the 10th of August only, and is projected outdoors)
Signal Hill National Historic Site of Canada, Newfoundland

Visit the Parks Canada Facebook page for more details.

Show you remember

Visit for more info about commemorative activities, and be sure to use the hashtag #showyouremember to participate in the social media conversation.

And don’t forget: will feature a different WWI-themed film every day next week for your viewing pleasure!

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