ELSON, Bryan




Author Tags: War

Easily overlooked when lists are compiled for Remembrance Day regarding British Columbia's connections to two World Wars and other conflicts is Bryan Elson's Canada's Bastions of Empire Halifax, Victoria and the Royal Navy 1749-1918 (Formac $29.95 2014) in which Elson examines the significance of British naval bases at Halifax and Victoria through the 19th century and the First World War. Both Halifax and Esquimalt gave the Royal Navy land bases in order to protect their respective coastlines.

Elson explains that during the 1800s the United States grew dramatically, adding huge swaths of lands west, south and north that had belonged to France, Spain, Mexico, and Russia, while pushing aside native peoples. "There were threats of war and annexation," according to publicity materials, "and American popular support for absorbing Canada was strong." The two naval stations were fundamental in order to stymie American expansionism into Canada. Most importantly, in 1914, when the United States did not join the war effort against Germany, it was the British Navy from Halifax that controlled traffic coming and going from the port of New York until the U.S. finally joined the side of Britain in 1917. On the west coast the B.C. provincial government paid for two new submarines to be built in support of the fledgling Canadian navy. Bryan Elson of Halifax also wrote Nelson's Yankee Captain and First To Die. A former officer of the Royal Canadian Navy, he has served as the vice-chair of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust in Halifax.

BOOKS:

Canada's Bastions of Empire: Halifax, Victoria and the Royal Navy 1749-1918 (Formac 2014) $29.95 9781459503267

[BCBW 2014]