Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Wardhaugh, Robert A.

2nd Supervisor

Fleming, Keith



This thesis explores the masculinity of soldiers from Calgary during the Great War using a theoretical framework of hegemonic masculinity. The first chapter establishes a normative masculine standard in Calgary using local newspaper coverage of battalion departure parades. These events were rituals that celebrated militarized masculinity and reinforced the hegemonic ideal that existed across the British Empire in the early 20th century. The second chapter assesses how masculinity was performed in letters during the war. Although men strove to embody the masculine ideal, their letters were not uniform endorsements of martial masculinity. The third chapter analyzes how hegemonic masculinity shaped men’s memoirs and illuminates the enduring strength of the wartime masculine ideal. The hegemonic masculinity that existed in 1914 which celebrated physical prowess, military service, bravery, emotional control, and endurance, was not destroyed during the years of the war, but it did not survive unchanged.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis studies the masculinity of soldiers from Calgary during the Great War. In the early 20th century, across the British Empire, a dominant contingent of society believed that the ideal man was adventurous, brave, emotionally and physically tough, and patriotic. During the Great War, this conception of masculinity was tested. The first chapter establishes that Calgary newspapers celebrated this dominant masculine ideal and praised local men who embodied it. In particular, local newspaper coverage of battalion departure parades reinforced the soldier as an exemplary model of masculinity. The second and third chapters turn to the individual masculine identities of men from Calgary. They assess how men performed masculinity in their letters home and in their memoirs that they wrote after the war. In both cases, men in uniform largely upheld and promoted the same masculine traits and behaviours that were celebrated in newspapers as the hegemonic ideal. However, these personal sources also reveal that men adapted their masculine identities in response to their wartime experiences that challenged traditional conceptions of manly behaviour. Ultimately, this thesis illuminates how the individual masculine identities of Calgary men in the Great War aligned with or differed from societal expectations of masculinity.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.