The 2012 Eaton Lecture

The 2012 Eaton Lecture by J. Marc Milner is entitled Beyond Remembrance:  What Do We Make of the Great Wars of the 20th Century When All the Veterans are Gone? 

It was presented Nov. 7, 2012, at Canadian Forces College, North York, Ontario. Watch the lecture:



Two assumptions form the basis of the inaugural Eaton Lecture:

  • That the period from 1914 to 1945 was the formative experience of modern Canada, and
  • that the traditional “remembrance” of the period is not only dying out with the passing of the generations, it is too narrowly conceived to capture the real impact of this formative era in Canadian History.

While virtually no Canadian alive today has a memory of our dead from the Great War of 1914-1918, and those who can recall someone who was killed on active service in the Second World War are dwindling exponentially, this talk will suggest that we need to remember more than the dead of war. 

The Canada of 1914-1945 was at a social and ideological crossroads.  The same might be said of the entire western world during this period.  We need to integrate the story of those who honoured the dead’s sacrifice by resolving to make Canada a better place for everyone.  It was not the war dead who built modern Canada — it was their families and friends who felt that the loss of their loved ones could best be honoured by making Canada, and the world, a better place to live.

It is time for this generation to determine what is memorable about those 30 years of sacrifice and hard work, and for a new generation to determine how the sacrifice on the battlefront and the effort on the home front between 1914 and 1945 will be remembered.  It is time to reconcile the two threads of this story, link them into one, and fashion a new way of remembering the Great Wars of the 20th century.


J. Marc Milner

Dr. Marc MilnerDr. Milner is the director of the Milton F. Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He began his career in UNB’s department of history in 1986 and holds a doctorate from UNB.

One of Canada’s most influential military historians, Dr. Milner is an expert on the Second World War.  He has been instrumental in the growth of the military history program at UNB and was a key player in the establishment of the Gregg Centre.

In addition to his work at UNB, Dr. Milner has sat on numerous national and international research committees and societies; has been a consultant and adviser to numerous programs, educational institutions and initiatives; and has been an important contributor to the annual European tours of the Canadian Battlefields Foundation.  He is a member of the foundation’s board and, in 2009, was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Royal Military College of Canada.

Dr. Milner is the author of several award-winning scholarly monographs and has produced numerous popular books on Canada’s role in the Second World War, including D-Day to Carpiquet: the North Shore Regiment and the Liberation of Europe (2006) and Battle of the Atlantic (2003), which won the C.P. Stacey Prize for the best book in military history in Canada.  He has published more than 100 academic and popular essays, and writes a regular column for Legion Magazine.