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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
June 23, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Mark Humphries

Associate Professor
Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience; Director of LCMSDS

Contact Information
Phone: 519 884 0710 ext.3309 or 3700

Office Location: LCMSDS, 232 King Street

Languages Spoken


Academic Background

BA Wilfrid Laurier University

MA Wilfrid Laurier University

PhD University of Western Ontario


I am interested in how wars affect society, especially the health consequences of mass mobilization and military service. This has led me to investigate the origins and history of the 1918 influenza pandemic and I am currently finishing up a book on shell shock in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. At the same time I am also interested in the operational history of the Great War and earlier conflicts which had led me to write on the Seven Years War, the leadership of Sir Arthur Currie, and to co-edit a series of translations from the German official history of the Great War. My major research project over the next few years will be to investigate war's long term effects on Canadian veterans and their families after they returned home.

Through Veterans' Eyes Project

If researchers could systematically access historical standardized demographic, economic, social, and medical data—both quantitative and qualitative—detailing the lives of ordinary Canadians, from every walk of life and background, what might we learn about the societal challenges and opportunities that we face today? The pension files of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VAC), which are largely unknown and unused, constitute just such an expansive research opportunity. When 620,000 Canadians joined the military during the First World War, they began a life-long relationship with the Canadian state that produced files documenting their experiences from youth to death. These contain regular home visit reports, yearly household balance sheets, detailed household inventories, and voluminous medical records as well as the voices of veterans and their families. In short, they record the lives of Canadians down to the smallest detail. Systematic organization and use of the files will allow researchers to examine a variety of related topics such as working-class experience, the history and treatment of specific diseases, family stability, the gendered economy, and minority experiences. There is, quite simply, no comparable group of records from which to write the social history of twentieth century Canada.

Myself, Cynthia Comacchio, and Terry Copp are using these files to answer three important, interrelated questions:

  • Did the experiences of veterans who developed post-combat psychological and physical illness differ from those listed as wounded in action?
  • How did the veteran experience shape 're-establishment' on the intimate level of family life and familial relations?
  • Were psychologically traumatized conscripts and volunteers treated differently by the state?

Through a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, we also plan to digitize, organize, and preserve these files to open up new avenues of research for other scholars.



Mark Humphries. The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013, 323 pp.

Mark Humphries, John Maker (editors), Wilhelm J. Kiesselbach (translator), with a forward by Hew Strachan Germany’s Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War, 1914 Part I. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013, 620 pp.

Terry Copp and Mark Humphries, Combat Stress in the 20th Century: the Commonwealth Experience. Kingston: Canadian Defence Academy, 2011, 595 pp.

Mark Humphries, John Maker (editors), with a forward by Hew Strachan, Germany’s Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War, 1915. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2010, 413 pp.

Mark Humphries (editor), The Selected Papers of Sir Arthur Currie: Diaries, Letters, and Report to the Ministry, 1917–1933. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press/LCMSDS Press, 2008, 407 pp.


Mark Humphries. ‘Two Solitudes: Canadian Social and Military Historians Confront the Great War,’ Canadian Historical Review 95, 4 (September 2014): forthcoming.

— — . ‘Willfully and With Intent: Self-Inflicted Wounds and the Negotiation of Power in the Trenches,’ Histoire Sociale/Social History XLVII, 94 (June 2014): 369-97.

— — . ‘Paths of Infection: The First World War and the Origins of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic,’ War in History 21, 1 (January 2014): 55-81.

— — . ‘A Calamity from which no Relief can be expected’: Empire, Authority, and Civilian Responses to the French Occupation of Newfoundland, June–September 1762,’ Acadiensis XLIII, 1 (Winter/Spring 2014): 35-64.

— — . ‘War’s Long Shadow: Masculinity, Medicine and the Gendered Politics of Trauma, 1914–1939,’ Canadian Historical Review 91, 3 (September 2010): 503-531.

Mark Humphries with Kellen Kurchinski, ‘Rest, Relax, and Get Well: Re-Conceptualising Great War Shell Shock Treatment,’ War & Society 27, 2 (2008): 89–110.

Mark Humphries. ‘The Horror at Home: the Canadian Military and the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918,’ Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 16 (2005): 231–265.

Book Chapters

Mark Humphries . ‘Terry Copp’s Approach to History,’ in Canada and the Second World War: Essays in Honour of Terry Copp, Geoffrey Hayes, Michael Bechthold, and Matt Symes, eds. (Waterloo: WLU Press, 2012), 15–32.

— — . ‘The Limits of Necessity: Public Health, Dissent, and the War Effort during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic,’ in Esyllt Jones and Magda Fahrni, eds. Epidemic Encounters: Influenza, Society, and Culture in Canada, 1918–20 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2012), 21–47.

— — . ‘Old Wine in New Bottles: A Comparison of Canadian and British Preparations for the Battle of Arras,’ in Geoff Hayes, Andrew Iarocci and Michael Bechthold, (eds.) Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007, 65-86

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