Remembrance Day Reads

Remembrance Day is a time to remember and reflect on the great sacrifice and effects war has had on so many generations of Canadians, and those around the world. Reading is just one way to get a glimpse into times of war and the scars it leaves.

All Books in this Collection

Showing 1–16 of 19 results

  • A Long Labour

    A Long Labour


    In this unusual Holocaust memoir, Rhodea Shandler gives a woman’s view of life under the Nazis in Holland. She begins by describing her early life in a closely knit Jewish family in northern Holland. There was anti-Semitism, she explains, but it was of a low level, and the Jews with their strong ties to community managed to live relatively normal lives. Then everything began to change with Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.

    Through it all, she tells of life ongoing and how she became a nursing student in Amsterdam. It was while she was working in an Amsterdam hospital on May 9, 1940, that an explosion was heard, and she looked up to watch German paratroopers landing to take control of the city. Over the next few years she describes how the community attempts to cope even as Jews are being deported before their very eyes.

    Finally in early 1943, she and her new husband decide that they must go into hiding in the countryside. With the help of the Underground, they find a “safe” farm, but their situation changes when Shandler discovers that she is pregnant. Some of the most moving parts of the story describe her preparations for the child’s birth, even as their “friendly” family turns against them, fearful of the new dangers a baby will bring.

    Then on a bitterly cold day in December 1943 the baby is born, and Shandler is left with the difficult task of caring for the child in the midst of continuing Gestapo raids. Shandler’s memoir ends with the family’s decision after the war to emigrate to Canada, and for Shandler to write of her struggle to give birth to the new.

  • Bialystok to Birkenau

    Bialystok to Birkenau


    The testimony of survivors is the ultimate refutation of claims that the Holocaust did not occur. In this profoundly honest Holocaust memoir, Michel Mielnicki takes us from the pleasures and charms of pre-war Polish Jewry (now entirely lost) into some of the darkest places of the twentieth century.

  • Burning House

    Burning House


    In a portrait-gallery of poems, Richard Lemm considers everything from the history of war in the United States to an undertakers’ convention in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. History, war and a search for understanding thread through this collection, in poems that have wild, dynamic imagery and a strong emotional resonance.

  • Canadians at War, Vol. 2

    Canadians at War, Vol. 2


    Dieppe, the Battle of Hong Kong, the Mora River Campaign, the Invasion of Normandy, the Siege of Dunkirk, — battles not as distant as we may think. The constant gunfire, the whistle of bombs, the hiss of gas, the cold, the wet, the fear, the loneliness, and the anguish of losing friends and colleagues.

    Outside of the military, no one can quite imagine how the soldiers endured all of this. But endure they did. Canadians fought on several fronts during World War II, proving the mettle of soldiers, airmen, and their commanders. Canadians at War Vol. 2: A Guide to the Battlefields and Memorials of World War II, a follow-up to Susan Evans Shaw’s guidebook to the battlefields and memorials of World War I, takes its readers on a tour of the places where the Canadians fought, and died — the battlefields, memorials, and cemeteries scattered throughout Europe and the Far East.

    Beginning with an introduction on the preparations for war, the book heads first to Hong Kong before returning to the invasion at Dieppe. From there, we follow the Canadian troops through Italy as they push towards Rome and then through Northwest Europe. The Invasion of Normandy and the Liberation of Holland lead up to the final days of the war. Supplemented with many maps and photographs, Canadians at War Vol. 2 also includes chapters on the Canadian Forestry Group, sappers at Gibraltar, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps Overseas, Canada’s chemical and biological warfare program, and prisoners of war. This volume is a must-have for those interested in heritage tourism and World War II and for the families of veterans and is an ideal complement to Evans Shaw’s World War I companion volume.

  • Darling of Kandahar, The

    Darling of Kandahar, The


    A young woman poses for the cover of a magazine. A Canadian soldier serving in Kandahar falls in love with her photograph and sends her an email. The Darling of Kandahar tells a story of love, loss, and displacement against the background of the war in Afghanistan, of the founding of the city of Montreal – and of a city now crowded with immigrants. When Felicia Mihali’s first novel appeared in French in 2002, it was compared to Marie-Claire Blais’s masterpiece, A Season in the Life of Emmanuel. Making her English-language début with The Darling of Kandahar, Mihali now joins Nancy Huston as one of the few writers working in English as well as French.

  • Freddy’s War

    Freddy’s War


    Winner of the 2012 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize
    Shortlisted for the 2012 Edmonton Public Library Alberta Readers’ Choice Award

    In 1941, a young man imagines thrilling battles and heroic acts when he lies about his age and joins the army. Assigned to the Winnipeg Grenadiers, part of the Canadian army in Hong Kong, Freddy McKee becomes a prisoner of war six weeks after arriving in Hong Kong.

    Five years pass and Freddy finally returns home from the war, but three women—Joanna Keegan, her daughter Hope, and the beautiful and mysterious Su Li—feel echoes of Freddy’s ordeal in each of their lives. For Freddy, the memory of war is a heavier burden than the weapon he once carried. Freddy must fight to survive in a world that has left him behind.

  • How I Won the War for the Allies

    How I Won the War for the Allies


    Still sassy, Doris Gregory takes the reader back over seventy years to the time when she broke with tradition, first by publicly challenging the University of British Columbia’s discrimination against women, and then by joining the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. Her memoir allows us to travel with her across the Atlantic at the height of the U-boat infestation and to take refuge in underground shelters while
    bombs fall on London. Unlike most memoirs of the war that focus on battles, Gregory shows the everyday mundane activities of office life, working under some less-than-brilliant supervisors. Gregory transforms what could have been a dull soldier’s life into one of small adventures: cycling along traffic-free roads through southern England, the midlands and Scottish lowlands, hopping on the ferry to Ulster, slipping into neutral, forbidden Eire, and looking into the gun barrel of an angry German sentry. Although at times the war weighs heavily upon her, the author’s optimism, enthusiasm and sense of humour permeate this memoir, full of laughter and surprises.

  • Lucky Child, The

    Lucky Child, The


    How do we construct the story of ourselves and our countries? How do we know our histories, our memories, our identities? These are the questions that compelled Marianne Apostolides to ask her father about his childhood in wartime Greece. Her probing unleashed a torrent of stories he’d kept hidden, even from himself Ñ stories about honour, bravery, vengeance and betrayal. The Lucky Child tells this tale with honesty and ambiguity. It is a novel that resonates with a deeper ‘truth’: the truth of our universal need to question and engage, to create our own meaning through shared story.

  • Monkey Puzzle Tree, The

    Monkey Puzzle Tree, The


    Monkey Puzzle Tree, The

  • The Aroostook War of 1839

    The Aroostook War of 1839


    A little-known episode in North America’s history, the 1839 Aroostook War was an undeclared war with no actual fighting. It had its roots in the 1793 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War but left the border of Maine (then part of Massachusetts) and British North America unsettled, and in the War of 1812, when parts of northern Maine were occupied by Britain. Fearing a negotiated border would negatively affect their claim for the disputed territory, Maine occupied the Aroostook River valley in early 1839, British regulars, New Brunswick militia, and Maine militia were then deployed in the dead of winter, as the kindling was laid for a third major Anglo-American conflagration. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, although they did not deter a number of skirmishes between the Maine Land Agent posses and a loosely organized group of New Brunswick lumbermen.

    A complex story of friction, greed, land grabs, and rivalry, this border dispute which nearly resulted in war was eventually settled by the Ashburton-Webster Treaty of 1842 and told by Campbell in The Aroostook War of 1839.

    The Aroostook War of 1839 is volume 20 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.

  • The Good Doctor

    The Good Doctor


    Hamilton’s Italian community comes to vibrant life in this World War II–era novel. Told as a tale during a winter night, The Good Doctor, follows the efforts of Doctor Vincenzo Arcone to fight the forces of fascism within his community and prejudice without. Filled with vibrant characters, striking depictions of Hamilton as a thriving city and intriguing historical details, The Good Doctor is a compelling tale, one that deals with age-old themes of identity and belonging in a fresh way.

  • The Long Walk Home

    The Long Walk Home


    The Canadian media were the first to bring Master Corporal Paul Franklin’s story to the public, and it is only fitting that award-winning journalist Liane Faulder brings the full account of his return from a war zone. The Long Walk Home: Paul Franklin’s Journey from Afghanistan documents the recovery of a soldier injured in a 2006 suicide bombing that left one Canadian diplomat dead, and two comrades in arms wounded. Although Franklin made a promise to his wife that he would come home alive, he needed the heroic help of soldiers on the scene and a medical team abroad to keep his word. He lost both of his legs above the knee as the result of his injuries, but returned home determined to walk again. Within four months of his injury, and against the odds and predictions of doctors, Franklin learned to walk on artificial legs. He continues to represent the courage of Canadian troops overseas as he rebuilds his life at home with his wife Audra and their young son, Simon. As a family on a journey to recovery, they are determined to stand, and walk, together. The Long Walk Home: Paul Franklin’s Journey from Afghanistan is a story of loss, courage, love and hope. It inspires all of those — military and civilians alike — who wonder how they will take that next step when tough times challenge the body and the spirit.

  • The Tinsmith

    The Tinsmith


    During the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, Anson Baird, a surgeon for the Union Army, is on the front line tending to the wounded. As the number of casualties rises, a mysterious soldier named John comes to Anson’s aid. Deeply affected by the man’s selfless actions, Anson soon realizes that John is no ordinary soldier, and that he harbors a dangerous secret. In the bizarre aftermath of the Battle of Antietam, this secret forges an intense bond between the two men.

    Twenty years later on the other side of the continent, Anson discovers his old comrade-in-arms is mysteriously absent, an apparent victim of the questionable business ethics of the pioneer salmon canners. Haunted by the violence of his past, and disillusioned with his present, Anson is compelled to discover the fate of his missing friend, a fate inextricably linked to his own.

    “Altogether, a story of impressive scope, and bristling with action.” —Jack Matthews, author of The Gambler’s Nephew

  • Tommy



    A mathematician finds himself in the midst of the Pacific War

    April 1945: In the aftermath of the battle for Okinawa, Tommy stands on the deck of the USS Bataan, the Independence-class aircraft carrier that he’s called home for a year. Once, he was a student in the classrooms of MIT. Now, thousands of miles away, he is surrounded by horrors — but uses his mathematical and navigational expertise to do his best to minimize the casualties.

    In this novel, William Illsey Atkinson tells the story of Japan’s Operation Ten-Go, and the fierce battle that sent dozens of vessels to their watery grave while hundreds of others were damaged from the air. Tommy spans the vast experience of one man’s life, from his hardscrabble childhood in early twentieth-century Dorris, California, to his heroic efforts in the South Pacific and beyond.

  • Training Aces: Canada’s Air Training During the First World War

    Training Aces: Canada’s Air Training During the First World War


    When the First World War broke out, little was known about aviation. “Training Aces” chronicles the development of aviation in Canada that began in the years before the war when early experiments in flight were made by Canadians. This book portrays the important role that Canada played in the success of the air training efforts of the First World War and describes the establishment of two aviation companies in Toronto and Vancouver to train pilots for the war.

  • Vladimir Krajina

    Vladimir Krajina


    In 1939 the botanist Vladimir Krajina joined the Czech Resistance and quickly became one of its leaders. Incredible escapes from the Gestapo followed while some 20,000 radio messages were sent by his group to London, among them those about the pending invasion of the Balkans and of the Soviet Union. As the strongest anti-Communist Party’s general secretary he escaped from the country on skis after the Communist takeover. Personally thanked for his wartime effort by Winston Churchill, Krajina came to the University of British Columbia where as a professor of botany he battled the forest barons and their practice of clear-cutting and slash burning. He then turned his attention to saving pristine areas of the province, earning the title of father of the Ecological Reserve Program, since replicated throughout Canada. As a Companion of the Order of Canada, he returned triumphantly to Prague in 1990 to receive the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czechoslovak award, from President Vaclav Havel. Krajina died peacefully in Vancouver in 1993 as one of those happy individuals who had achieved practically everything they had set out to do in life.