Lost in the Crowd: Acadian Soldiers of Canada's First World War (La collection Louis J. Robichaud/The Louis J. Robichaud Series) (Hardcover)
In December 1915, as the First World War wore on, Acadian leaders meeting in New Brunswick deplored how soldiers from their communities were “lost in the crowd” of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. They successfully lobbied the federal government for the creation of an Acadian national unit that would be French-speaking, Catholic, and led by their own. More than a thousand Acadians from across the Maritime provinces, Quebec, and the American northeast answered the call. In Lost in the Crowd Gregory Kennedy draws on military archives, census records, newspapers, and soldiers’ letters to present a new kind of military history focusing on the experiences of Acadian soldiers and their families before, during, and after the war. He shows that Acadians were just as likely to enlist as their English-speaking counterparts across the Maritimes, though the backgrounds of the volunteers were quite different. Kennedy tackles controversial topics often missing from the previous historiography, such as underage recruits, desertion, and army discipline. With the help of the 1921 Canadian Census, he explores the factors that influenced post-war outcomes, both positive and negative, for soldiers, families, and communities. Lost in the Crowd offers a completely new and replicable approach to the traditional regimental history, reconstituting the lives of soldiers and their families. The focus on the Acadians, a francophone minority group in the Maritime provinces, significantly shifts our understanding of French Canada and the First World War.
Gregory M.W. Kennedy is professor of history and research director of the Institut d’études acadiennes at the Université de Moncton and the author of Something of a Peasant Paradise? Comparing Rural Societies in Acadie and the Loudunais, 1604–1755.
“This is a ground-breaking study. While a great deal has been written about Canada's participation in the First World War, the Acadian dimension has received relatively little attention. With depth and balance, Kennedy convincingly integrates the seemingly disparate historiographies of the Canadian military and of Acadian society, making this book a meaningful and unique contribution to the scholarship.” John G. Reid, Saint Mary's University and author of Essays on Northeastern North America, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries