Canada and the Spanish Civil War


“Canada and the Spanish Civil War: a Digital Research Environment”

The Digital Research Environment is a long-term, multi-phase project that will provide integrated public access to the large amount of diverse Canadian cultural materials concerning the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). The conflict animated Canadian public discourse, and inspired nearly seventeen hundred Canadians to travel to Spain where many joined the International Brigades as armed volunteers in the anti-fascist cause. The artistic community in Canada also adopted Spain as one of the most rigorously represented subjects of the time. Even a partial record of poets who have written on the events surrounding the Spanish Civil War reads like an anthology of modern poetry in Canada: Patrick Anderson, Louis Dudek, Ralph Gustafson, Leo Kennedy, A.M. Klein, Irving Layton, Kenneth Leslie, Dorothy Livesay, P.K. Page, E.J. Pratt, F.R. Scott, Raymond Souster, A.M. Stephen, Miriam Waddington, Patrick Waddington, Joe Wallace, George Woodcock, among others. Spain also plays an integral role in novels dating from wartime to the present, by authors such as Ted Allan, Dennis Bock, Mark Frutkin, Hugh Garner, Charles Yale Harrison, June Hutton, Malcolm Lowry, Hugh MacLennan, and Mordecai Richler. Aside from the many published and unpublished novels, short stories, poems, and journalistic pieces, large amounts of life writing about Spain—memoirs, diaries, letters, and testimonials—exist in both published and archival sources. Long after the fascist victory, literary scholars, historians, and general audiences around the globe have continued to look to the Spanish Civil War as a marker of both tremendous hope and bitter disappointment.

While American and British scholarship on the conflict has persisted, Canadian cultural texts remain dispersed, difficult to access, and in some case completely undocumented. Our project begins to remedy this unfortunate critical disparity by seeking to develop a long-term research agenda for the recovery and remediation of Canadian responses to the conflict. We envision “Canada and the Spanish Civil War” as a three-phase project that aims to alleviate this critical gap, representing the first scholarly effort to collate this Canadian material for public consumption in a systematic way. The first phase requires conducting archival research, consultation and project development. The second phase of the project builds upon the first to see the preparation and publication of a clean-text print anthology, Selected Canadian Writing on the Spanish Civil War, with a digital scholarly apparatus. The third phase of the project will see a massive collation and digitization in order to create a public digital collection. 

Co-Directors: Bart Vautour (Mount Allison University) and Emily Robins Sharpe (University of Guelph)