Canadian War Museum
Overview
 
The Canadian War Museum (CWM) is Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

’s national museum of military history. Located in Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, the museum covers all facets of Canada’s military past, from the first recorded instances of death by armed violence in Canadian history several thousand years ago to the country’s most recent involvement in conflicts. It includes major permanent exhibitions on wars that have been fought on Canadian soil, the total wars of the twentieth century, the Cold War and peace support operations abroad, and Canada’s history of honouring and remembrance.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Canadian War Museum (CWM) is Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

’s national museum of military history. Located in Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, the museum covers all facets of Canada’s military past, from the first recorded instances of death by armed violence in Canadian history several thousand years ago to the country’s most recent involvement in conflicts. It includes major permanent exhibitions on wars that have been fought on Canadian soil, the total wars of the twentieth century, the Cold War and peace support operations abroad, and Canada’s history of honouring and remembrance. There is also an open storage area displaying large objects from the Museum’s collection, from naval guns to tanks, from motorcycles to jet aircraft. The exhibits depict Canada’s military past in its personal, national and international dimensions, with special emphasis on the human experience of war and the manner in which war has affected, and been affected by, Canadians’ participation.

Much of the Museum’s public exhibition space is devoted to its Canadian Experience Galleries, its main permanent exhibition space. These displays underline the profound effect that war has had on Canada’s development and the significant role Canadians have played in international conflicts. Their content is a rich mixture of some 2,500 objects from war art to armoured vehicles, as well as scores of audio-visual displays and many hands-on activities. A changing program of temporary or special exhibitions, plus public programs and special events, complement the experience offered in the permanent galleries.
The CWM also houses the Military History Research Centre, a leading library and archival research facility, and a large collection of some 500,000 artifacts, including uniforms, medals, weapons, war art, aircraft, military vehicles and artillery.

The CWM originated in 1880. Its current building opened in May 2005 and is located less than 2 km west of Canada’s Parliament Buildings. The building's architecture has received professional and public acclaim. The CWM is part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, which also operates the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Canadian Museum of Civilization
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is Canada's national museum of human history and the most popular and most-visited museum in Canada....

, the Canadian Children's Museum
Canadian Children's Museum
The Canadian Children's Museum is located inside the Canadian Museum of Civilization, in Gatineau, Quebec. The CCM is among the most popular museums in the country, attracting about half a million visitors each year. It is also Canada's largest exhibition centre designed specifically for children...

, the Canadian Postal Museum
Canadian Postal Museum
The Canadian Postal Museum is housed within the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec. It has been described as one of the largest postal museums in the world, ranking second in annual attendance. The museum is not primarily about postage stamps, although it has a first-class...

, and the Virtual Museum of New France
Virtual Museum of New France
The Virtual Museum of New France was established by the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation on January 22, 1997. As an entirely virtual museum, it has no physical exhibits and only exists on the World Wide Web at . The mission of the museum is to promote awareness of all facets of life in...

.

History

The Museum originated in 1880 as a collection of military artifacts in the possession of the Canadian federal government, organized by militia officers of the Ottawa garrison. Its first facility was a series of rooms in the Cartier Square Drill Hall
Cartier Square Drill Hall
The Drill Hall at Cartier Square is a dedicated military training facility in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It has been a local landmark since its construction in 1879. The drill hall is long and has two tall mansard towers....

. The collection was later adopted by the Public Archives of Canada. The Canadian War Museum was officially established in 1942. The collection of war artifacts gained its own dedicated facility in 1967 when it moved to the former Public Archives building on Sussex Drive
Sussex Drive
Sussex Drive is a major street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and one of the city's major ceremonial and institutional routes....

 in Ottawa (currently the Global Centre for Pluralism
Global Centre for Pluralism
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an international centre for research, education and exchange about the values, practices and policies that underpin pluralist societies...

). That location was too small for the Museum’s growing post-war collection, most of which was eventually stored at a west-end Ottawa warehouse known as Vimy House
Vimy House
Vimy House is a warehouse in western Ottawa, Canada, that used to store most of the collection of the Canadian War Museum. Originally built as Ottawa's streetcar garage, it was turned over to the war museum when its Sussex Drive building ran out of storage and office space...

.

New building

In the 1990s, the federal government made plans to relocate the War Museum to a new site east of central Ottawa, near the Canada Aviation Museum. The proposed site was criticized for its distance from the downtown core, and a more prominent location on the Ottawa River
Ottawa River
The Ottawa River is a river in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. For most of its length, it now defines the border between these two provinces.-Geography:...

 was later selected on LeBreton Flats
Lebreton Flats
LeBreton Flats is a neighbourhood in Ottawa, Canada. It lies to the west of Centretown neighbourhood, and to the north of Centretown West with "Nanny Goat Hill" as the dividing line...

, just west of Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill
Parliament Hill , colloquially known as The Hill, is an area of Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Ontario. Its Gothic revival suite of buildingsthe parliament buildings serves as the home of the Parliament of Canada and contains a number of architectural...

. The new location also allowed for ceremonial processions between the National War Memorial
National War Memorial (Canada)
The National War Memorial , is a tall granite cenotaph with acreted bronze sculptures, that stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada....

 and the new War Museum, and was situated in an urban space soon to begin redevelopment.

The new facility, designed by a joint venture of Moriyama & Teshima Architects of Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 and Griffiths Rankin Cook Architects of Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, opened on May 8, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, or V-E Day. The new, modern building emerges from the ground just west of Booth Street and rises progressively higher at its eastern end, closest to Parliament Hill. Its textured concrete walls and roof are somewhat reminiscent of a bunker, while a partially grass-covered roof is consistent with the Museum's theme of regeneration and its environmentally friendly design. The building rises in the east to a large fin, clad in copper that matches the rooftops of other prominent public buildings in the national capital. The small windows on the fin spell out in Morse code
Morse code
Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment...

 "Lest we forget" (in English) and "N'oublions jamais" (in French). The copper used on the interior of the building was recovered from the Library of Parliament
Library of Parliament
The Library of Parliament is the main information repository and research resource for the Parliament of Canada...

 during refurbishment of the Library's roof in 2004.

Permanent galleries

The Canadian War Museum contains several permanent galleries and other important display spaces.

Battleground: Wars on Our Soil, from earliest times to 1885

This gallery explores the history of war on Canadian soil and the way in which armed conflict affected the evolution of the country and its peoples. It includes First Peoples warfare, the alliances and conflicts that marked the relationship between First Peoples and Europeans, and the imperial rivalries that marked most of North America’s early history. Content includes the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, and conflicts in the Canadian West in 1870 and 1885.

For Crown and Country: The South African and First World Wars, 1885-1931

Canadian forces went abroad in 1899 and again in 1914 to fight in wars as part of the British Empire. This gallery covers the South African War and the First World War, and ends with the Statute of Westminster (1931), which granted Canada and the other dominions political autonomy within the Empire. The gallery covers the battles and campaigns of both wars, but especially the trench warfare in France and Belgium from 1915 to 1918, and battles such as the Somme
Somme
Somme is a department of France, located in the north of the country and named after the Somme river. It is part of the Picardy region of France....

, Vimy
Vimy
Vimy is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography and history:Vimy is a farming town, situated some north of Arras, at the junction of the D51 and the N17 roads....

, Passchendaele, and the Hundred Days
Hundred Days
The Hundred Days, sometimes known as the Hundred Days of Napoleon or Napoleon's Hundred Days for specificity, marked the period between Emperor Napoleon I of France's return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815...

. It also covers the home front, air and naval warfare, military medicine, artillery, the plight of enemy aliens, and strategy and tactics.

Forged in Fire: The Second World War, 1931-1945

This gallery starts with the rise of aggressive dictatorships in Germany, Italy, and Japan in the 1930s and follows Canada’s role in the ensuing world war until it ended in 1945. Early displays cover Adolf Hitler and the rise of fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 including an infamous Mercedes limousine
Limousine
A limousine is a luxury sedan or saloon car, especially one with a lengthened wheelbase or driven by a chauffeur. The chassis of a limousine may have been extended by the manufacturer or by an independent coachbuilder. These are called "stretch" limousines and are traditionally black or white....

 used by Hitler at Nazi rallies. The main exhibits cover Canada’s initial land, sea and air responses to the fighting in Europe, the costly Battle of the Atlantic, and the gradual mobilization of the Canadian home front for a total war effort. Later displays include Dieppe
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

, the air war, the fighting in Italy, Normandy, and the Netherlands, and the eventual surrender of the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 and the cost of war. Homecoming is the final exhibit in the gallery.

A Violent Peace: The Cold War, Peacekeeping and Recent Conflicts, 1945 to the present

This gallery covers the period from the immediate onset of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 following the end of the Second World War to the present, detailing Canadian defence efforts at home and abroad, including those in NATO, NORAD, and the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

; wars in Korea, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, and Afghanistan; espionage, domestic security, civil liberties, and popular culture; and Canadian involvement in wars since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in 1989. The material in this gallery ranges from Cold War comic books and board games to peace signs and the story of Nobel Prize winner Lester Pearson, and includes an interactive space for visitors to leave their own reflections on war, peace, and remembrance.

The Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour

The RCL Hall of Honour chronicles Canada’s history of remembrance with a multi-media display of objects and stories from First Nations oral traditions to contemporary anniversaries and personal commemorative websites. It includes military honours, certificates of service, war art, Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

 poppies, and other material used by Canadians to remember and commemorate their military past and to honour those who have served. Among the highlights is the original plaster model for the National War Memorial
National War Memorial (Canada)
The National War Memorial , is a tall granite cenotaph with acreted bronze sculptures, that stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada....

 in downtown Ottawa, site of the annual national Remembrance Day service.

LeBreton Gallery

The multi-purpose LeBreton Gallery is a massive display area of large objects and a busy space for public programs, special events and private rentals. The artifacts on display include artillery, aircraft, armoured and non-armoured vehicles, and naval weapons. Among the gallery’s objects are: a CF-101 Voodoo jet; an M109 self-propelled howitzer
M109 howitzer
The M109 is an American-made self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s. It was upgraded a number of times to today's M109A6 Paladin...

; an East German BMP infantry fighting vehicle
BMP-2
The BMP-2 is a second-generation, amphibious infantry fighting vehicle introduced in the 1980s in the Soviet Union, following the BMP-1 of the 1960s....

; tracked artillery from the First World War; a Chieftain tank
Chieftain tank
The FV 4201 Chieftain was the main battle tank of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s. It was one of the most advanced tanks of its era, and at the time of its introduction in 1966 had the most powerful main gun and heaviest armour of any tank in the world...

; a Jagdpanzer IV
Jagdpanzer IV
The Jagdpanzer IV, Sd.Kfz. 162, was a tank destroyer based on the Panzer IV chassis built in three main variants. As one of the casemate-style turretless Jagdpanzer designs, it was developed against the wishes of Heinz Guderian, the inspector general of the Panzertruppen, as a replacement for the...

 tank destroyer; an M3 Lee
M3 Lee
The Medium Tank M3 was an American tank used during World War II. In Britain the tank was called "General Lee", named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and the modified version built with a new turret was called the "General Grant", named after U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant.Design commenced...

; a fully restored Panzer V Panther tank; a Panzer II
Panzer II
The Panzer II was the common name for a family of German tanks used in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen II...

; a Leopard C1 tank; searchlights; rare motorcycles; Field Marshal Alexander’s
Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis
Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis was a British military commander and field marshal of Anglo-Irish descent who served with distinction in both world wars and, afterwards, as Governor General of Canada, the 17th since Canadian...

 staff car; a Canadian Iltis jeep and other vehicles with service in the Balkans during the 1990s; a Molch
Molch
The Molch was an unsuccessful, one-man series of German midget submarines created during World War II...

 midget submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

; underwater mines; a T-34
T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

; a Valentine tank
Valentine tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production...

 recovered from a bog in 1990[5]; an Italian L3/35
L3/35
The L3/35 or Carro Veloce CV-35 was an Italian tank used before and during World War II. Although designated a light tank by the Italian Army, its turretless configuration, weight and firepower make it closer to contemporary tankettes....

 tankette; and Weather Station Kurt
Weather Station Kurt
Weather Station Kurt was an Automatic weather station, erected by a German U-boat crew in Northern Labrador, Newfoundland in October 1943. This was the only armed German military operation on land in North America during the Second World War.-Background:Weather in the Northern Hemisphere...

, an automated weather station planted by a German U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 on the coast of Labrador
Labrador
Labrador is the distinct, northerly region of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It comprises the mainland portion of the province, separated from the island of Newfoundland by the Strait of Belle Isle...

 in the 1940s.

Regeneration Hall

This narrow, soaring hall with angled walls and a narrow triangular window that frames the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill is "a physical representation of hope for a better future." High narrow windows spell out in the dots and dashes of Morse Code "Lest We Forget" and "N'oublions jamais". The ground floor features plaster casts (maquettes) used by sculptor Walter Allward in the design of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial
Canadian National Vimy Memorial
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for First World War Canadian soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known...

 in Vimy, France. The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill is visible from the mezzanine level and is perfectly framed between two window mullions. The copper used to clad the interior surface of the tower (seen from the LeBreton Gallery) was reclaimed from the Library of Parliament after a roof renovation.

Memorial Hall

Located outside the ticketed exhibition area in the Museum’s spacious foyer, Memorial Hall is a space for quiet remembrance and personal contemplation. It contains a single artifact: the headstone of Canada’s Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave in which the unidentifiable remains of a soldier are interred. Such tombs can be found in many nations and are usually high-profile national monuments. Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified...

 from the First World War. Sunlight through the Hall’s only window directly illuminates the headstone every Remembrance Day, November 11, at precisely 11 a.m., the moment the Great War ended in 1918. The November 11 window is framed with reclaimed copper from the renovated roof of the LIbrary of Parliament. The interior space of the hall is a perfect square sized 9m by 9m which is the area in which a First World War soldier is able to command on the battle field. The hall is aligned along the November 11th azimuth and the Peace Tower of Parliament Hill. The structure of Memorial Hall penetrates the roof and is visible from the accessible foot path which takes visitors up and over the roof. A large void in the structure reminiscent of a cupped hand forming the letter C frames the view of the Peace Tower.

War Art Collection

The Canadian War Museum includes a large collection of war art. The collection of over 13,000 works of art from World War I to the present day was begun in 1916 by Max Aiken (Lord Beaverbrook). It was transferred to the War Museum from the National Gallery of Canada
National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada , located in the capital city Ottawa, Ontario, is one of Canada's premier art galleries.The Gallery is now housed in a glass and granite building on Sussex Drive with a notable view of the Canadian Parliament buildings on Parliament Hill. The acclaimed structure was...

 in 1971. Select works are displayed at the museum within the individual permanent galleries as well as in approaches to the Lebreton Gallery and the entrance lobby.

Military History Research Centre

The Military History Research Centre (MHRC) houses the George Metcalf Archival Collection and the Hartland Molson Library. These extensive national collections of primary and secondary research material document Canada’s military history from the pre-contact period to the present. The Archival Collection contains unique documents including original letters, diaries, scrapbooks, maps, blueprints, sound recordings, oral history tapes and 65,000 photographic materials in a variety of formats. The Library Collection includes regimental histories, personal memoirs, wartime pamphlets, and military and technical field manuals.

See also

  • Canadian war memorials
    Canadian war memorials
    The history of Canada comprises hundreds of years of armed actions in the territory encompassing modern Canada, and the role of the Canadian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide. Many of these armed engagements are commemorated today with memorials across Canada and around the world...

  • Military history of Canada
    Military history of Canada
    The military history of Canada comprises hundreds of years of armed actions in the territory encompassing modern Canada, and the role of the Canadian military in conflicts and peacekeeping worldwide. For thousands of years, the area that would become Canada was the site of sporadic intertribal wars...

  • Organization of Military Museums of Canada
    Organization of Military Museums of Canada
    The Organization of Military Museums of Canada is a national organization for the promotion of military museums in Canada.The OMMC was established in 1967 by a group of military museums, historians, and military history enthusiasts. It has over 40 individual and 60 institutional members including...


External links

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