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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Price: $29.95

Hardback 272 pp.
47 b/w illustrations, 22 colour illustrations, 6" x 9"



Publication date:
September 2011

Imprint: OUP Canada

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Maple Leaf Empire

Canada, Britain, and Two World Wars

Jonathan F. Vance

Maple Leaf Empire makes Macleans Top 10 Bestseller List

Maple Leaf Empire makes the Canadian International Council's 2011 International Book List

The ineffable character of "Britishness" has been used, often enigmatically, to describe Canada's distinct cultural flavour within North America. This mysterious quality, writes award-winning writer Jonathan F. Vance, goes back to the early days of Canadian history, and consists of far more than the sum of early migration patterns. It emerges from a long-standing respect for British liberal ideals and an identification with the British Empire. Canada's own unique brand of Britishness evolved over a history of shared military endeavour, as Canadians fought alongside others to defend the ideals that the British Empire was deemed to represent.

To understand Canada's history of Britishness, Vance looks into the military past of both countries. The fabric of Canadian life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries owes a great deal to the presence of British military. And this, observes Vance, is a two-way relationship: he reminds us that during the two world wars, close to a million Canadians travelled to the United Kingdom. In this form of reverse colonialism, Canadians established modest outposts in Britain, and parts of the country were Canadianized.

This new, outside-the-box narrative is Jonathan F. Vance at his best. Beautifully written, based on original research in the true sense of the word, and illustrated with previously unseen materials, this book reveals a side of Canada often forgotten by historians.

Readership : Readers interested in Canadian studies, Canadian history/culture, and military history will be interested in this book.


  • "Vance mines newspaper stories, letters, and official reports from both world wars to trace the development of Canadian experiences in wartime Britain. . . . The book is a fascinating portrait of soldiers who, at the same time as they were fighting a war, discovered both the land of their ancestors and the definition of themselves as Canadians."

    --Quill & Quire

  • "Compelling."


  • "Maple Leaf Empire is very readable...this book will touch your heart."

    --Globe and Mail

  • "Those wishing to deepen their understanding of [Canadian] heritage, Vance's account is a good place to start."

    --Winnipeg Free Press

  • "A masterpiece...Maple Leaf Empire is exceedingly well written...this book is very strong."

    --Literary Review of Canada

  • "This study of the imperial experience that is imbedded in the Canadian character is social history at its best."

    --OHS Bulletin (newsletter of the Ontario Historical Society)

List of Illustrations
1. The Senior Dominion
2. The First Colonies
3. Growing Up at War
4. Canada: A British Nation
5. A New Generation in the Old Country
6. They Came, They Saw, They Conquered.
Appendix: A Guide for Guys Like You
Further Reading
Illustration Credits

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Jonathan F. Vance is a specialist in Canadian military and cultural history, war and society in the twentieth century, and social memory. From 2000 to 2010 he held the Canada Research Chair in Conflict and Culture, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2008. His book Death So Noble won the 1998 Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, the 1998 C.P. Stacey Award, and the 1998 Dafoe Book Prize. In 2010, A History of Canadian Culture won the Lela Common Award from the Canadian Authors Association.

The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History - J. L. Granatstein and Dean F. Oliver
Canadian Poetry from World War I - Edited by Joel Baetz
A History of Canadian Culture - Jonathan Vance

Special Features

  • Beautifully written. A highly readable narrative style that is accessible to the non-historian.
  • Primary source research. Based on first-hand research, including individual accounts of soldiers' experiences on the ground.
  • Unpublished material. Includes previously unpublished illustrative material, never before seen by the general public.
  • Original perspective. Presents a new angle on these definitive years in Canadian history.