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Book Reviews

Web review: The canadian military history gateway

Reviewed by Andrew C. Young

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The Canadian Military History Gateway (CMHG) www.cmhg.gc.ca was launched by the Department of National Defence (DND) on 30 June 2004. As stated on the “About Us” page of the CMHG website, “...the goal of the Gateway is to provide the public with free access to the collective military history resources of Canadian museums, libraries, archives and other heritage organizations through a single, dynamic and intuitive gateway.” The CMHG admirably achieves this goal.

The project to develop the Gateway was led by DND through the National Defence On-Line (NDOL) program, as well as the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canadian Culture Online Program. Most of the actual work in setting up the CMHG was done by personnel at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. The principal federal government departments and agencies responsible for the digitized resources available through the Gateway are the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Canadian War Museum (CWM), DND, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Parks Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

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The Gateway is an excellent source for online research on Canadian military history. Although only government resources are used, this restriction provides an assured quality control over all of the websites. The CMHG has a graphical interactive timeline from 1000 AD to 1999, and it also contains an enhanced search engine with subject-guided navigation.

On the homepage, one can find access to the large three-volume set Canadian Military Heritage; a section devoted to providing resources for educators; a “What’s New” site and a site that provides guidance for anyone wishing to research the military records of former servicemen and servicewomen.

All digitized resources have been assigned subject headings, date spans, type of publication designations (i.e. video, image, document), and links to the government department holding the original item. All these search parameters can help to define and make more accurate a researcher’s historical investigation. For example, a search of the words “Hong Kong” brought up 36 hits, many of which contained links to other relevant sites. Among the resources retrieved was a 179 page report “Canadian Participation In The Defence Of Hong Kong, December, 1941,” various contemporary newspaper articles on the battle, secondary sources covering all aspects of the Canadians’ deployment to the colony, the battle itself and the subsequent imprisonment of the surviving combatants.

The CMHG contains over 7000 unique links to holdings on partnership websites, including art, artefacts, animation, film, interactive game, narratives, music, personal anecdotes, photos, documents and research. There are also links that provide access to another 900,000 resources related to Canadian military history. The project is ongoing, and other relevant resources will be linked to the CMHG in the future.

Because the Gateway draws together a vast amount of material on Canadian military history in one location, it is the place to start for anyone interested in any topic on Canada’s military past. The Gateway is an excellent source for both primary and secondary material and is well worth a visit by anyone doing research on a military history topic.

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Andrew Young is a War Studies student at the Royal Military College of Canada.