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Nov. 29, 2016

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Postdoctoral Fellow, History

My current research is focused on Canadian veterans of the First World War who were treated for a wide range of psychiatric illnesses at the Ontario Military Hospital at Cobourg, Ontario – an institution reportedly for the "incurable." In spite of this label, most of these veterans were discharged to civil life. My research goal is to trace the postwar experiences of these veterans. Some of my questions include: which psychiatric illnesses were pensionable? Which were not? Who were these veterans and what were the long-term implications of their war trauma?

My current supervisor is Associate Professor Mark Humphries. I am so lucky to be working with him at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies for a number of reasons. His research on the 1918 influenza pandemic among soldiers shifted the whole narrative of the Canadian experience of the pandemic – this is the research that piqued my interest in soldier populations. Mark’s centre is also the only place that this research could be done. The digitization of veterans’ pension files is so exciting – these files follow veteran’s lives from discharge to death, and include things like letters written by veterans or their family members, detailed medical histories, reports written by pension visitors on social circumstances – really rich ethnographic information that is unparalleled. The individual stories are what I love about this research, and I think they deserve to be told.

One of my veterans was struck by lightning and lived, which was a surprise I was not expecting to read in a pension file.

Kandace Bogaert is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHERC) postdoctoral fellow. Her supervisor, Mark Humphries, is Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience.

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