Winnipeg’s Great War

A City Comes of Age

Jim Blanchard (Author)

From the local bestselling author of Winnipeg 1912 comes the riveting next chapter in the city’s history. Winnipeg’s Great War picks up in 1914, just as the city is regrouping after a brief economic downturn. War comes unexpectedly, thoughts of recovery are abandoned, and the city digs in for a hard-fought four years.

Using letters, diaries, and newspaper reports, Jim Blanchard brings us into the homes and public offices of Winnipeg and its citizens to illustrate the profound effect the war had on every aspect of the city, from its politics and economy, to its men on the battlefield, and its war-weary families fighting on the home front. We witness the emergence of the city’s social welfare services through the work of women’s volunteer organizations; the political scandals that led to the fall of the Rodmond Roblin government; and the clash between independent jitneys and the city’s private transit company. And we hear the conflicted emotions that echoed in the city’s streets, from anti-foreign sentiment and labour unrest, to patriotic parades, and a spontaneous Victory Day celebration that refused to end.

Through these stories, Blanchard reveals how these crucial years set the stage for the decades ahead, and how the First World War transformed Winnipeg into the city it is today.


  • Margaret McWilliams Popular History Award (2010)
  • Manitoba Day Award, Association for Manitoba Archives (2011)


“Although the shells weren’t raining down on them, it was very clear Winnipeg was at war. Winnipeg’s Great War: A City Comes of Age looks at Winnipeg throughout World War I and how it served Canada throughout the war effort. From social policy changes to much more, Jim Blanchard provides a complete and comprehensive look at one city’s role in taking down the Kaiser. Winnipeg’s Great War is a fine addition to any history collection focussing on Canadian history, or World War I in general.”

– Midwest Book Review, Dec 2010

“The book will be of interest not only to the general reader, but to all students of Winnipeg’s history, who will turn to it as a very significant source for the years 1914-1918.”

Henry Trachtenberg, Manitoba History

“Jim Blanchard’s Winnipeg’s Great War examines how Winnipeg’s 160,000 people faced the war from 1914 to 1918. An award-winning author of a previous book on Winnipeg and a librarian at the University of Manitoba, he knows where many of the city’s skeletons are buried. Blanchard writes in an engaging style as he explores why Winnipeggers enlisted and went overseas, and how those at home coped with their absence.”

Canada’s History, June-July 2011

Winnipeg’s Great War is a particularly fine example of popular history.”

Jim Mochoruk, Labour / Le Travail, fall 2011

About the Author

Jim Blanchard is a retired academic librarian and Librarian Emeritus of the University of Manitoba. He is a former president of the Manitoba Historical Society and is the author of Winnipeg’s Great War: A City Comes of Age and Winnipeg 1912.

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