Route to Victory Battlefield Tour 2018 Essay Assignment

Biographical Sketch – The life of a soldier in World War I

  1. All applicants are required to prepare a biographical sketch in the form of an essay of a Canadian soldier in World War I who survived the war or is buried or commemorated at a site in Belgium or France. Preferably, the soldier will be one from Southern Alberta although exceptions can be made for relatives from elsewhere in Canada.
  2. Participants should look up the Attestation Papers for their soldier at Library and Archives Canada website and may download or order a copy of the Personnel File. This will allow participants to learn about where and when the soldier served in the World War I. Using this information, participants should then write a short essay on what the soldier would have experienced by combining his biographical information and information on the battles in which their soldier was involved.
  3. The following are possible questions to help you develop your biographical sketch. You may not be able to answer all of them in your essay but you should be able to answer several of the questions.
  4. What do the documents reveal to you about your soldier, age, place of birth, family etc.?
  5. When did he join the Canadian Expeditionary Force?
  6. When did he arrive in Belgium or France and join the fighting?
  7. What fighting was the Canadian Corps involved in when he was in Belgium or France? What were the major battles in which he was involved? Briefly describe those battles and the role of the unit during those actions.
  8. Was your soldier injured? Is there any information on his recovery and return to fighting?
  9. Was he killed? Is there any information on the circumstances, burial place?
  10. Did your soldier earn any awards for bravery?
  11. How do you choose a soldier? There are many ways to choose a soldier to research but the most meaningful research is usually that which is closely related to the researcher.
  12. Do you have a family member who was in the Army during the World War I?
  13. Is there someone from Calgary and area who joined the Army during the World War I?
  14. Do you share a name with a soldier?
  15. In your community, is there a public building, such as a school, named after soldier who served during the World War I?
  16. The following is a list of some of the major battles in which the Canadian Expeditionary Force was involved during the World War I. Since the Victories Centennial Ball & Gala commemorates the three 1917 battles, you are asked to focus on these.
  • Ypres, 1915
  • Somme, 1916
  • Vimy April 1917
  • Hill 70 August 1917
  • Passchendaele October-November 1917
  • Amiens 1918
  • Canal du Nord 1918
  • Pursuit to Mons 1918
  1. Formatting
    1. The essay may be presented in either Word or Portable Document Format (pdf) and must be presented in 12 point Arial or Times New Roman font with double spaced lines and 2.5 cm (1 inch) borders top, bottom, left and right.
    2. This short essay must be not less than 500 words and not more than 1,200 words in length. Reviewers will stop reading at that point. Footnotes and references are not counted in the word count.
    3. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Please list your sources and use footnotes where appropriate. The Canadian Style Manual is an appropriate reference for citing sources. The chapter titled “Reference Matter” deals with how to make citations and reference to works used in research.
  2. All applicants will be informed of the decision of the adjudicators by Thursday, 14 September, 2017. Those selected will be asked to participate as a volunteer at the Victories Centennial Ball & Gala at the Telus Convention Centre on the evening of Friday, 20 October, 2017. The names of those selected, along with exceptional essays will be posted on Each selected applicant will have five (5) days from the day on which they are contacted and informed that they have been selected to make their decision to participate in the Tour. During this time those selected must confirm permission from their parent(s) /guardian(s) and prove that they either have or can obtain, a valid passport.
  3. Those selected for the tour can expect the following continued learning. In preparation for and during the tour, participants will be expected to prepare by completing readings, bring reference materials such as map(s) or other information with them and be active participants in discussions of history.
  4. As mentioned above, participants will also make a presentation to the other participants about the soldier they researched. Participants can also expect to take active roles in the conduct of the ceremonies that will be attended by the delegation. On return to Canada, participants will be expected to make a presentation to their school and / or cadet corps and to a community service group about their experience and the knowledge they gained.

Submitting Your Essay

Your essay, along with the signed application form, is to be submitted to your Corps/Squadron Commanding Officer (CO) or to the person designated by the CO by not later than Friday, 16 June, 2017. Your CO will vet your application and essay and decide whether to submit to the Adjudicators, which must be completed by Friday, 30 June, 2017 by email to


The following resources are illustrative. There are a great many more on-line and in libraries, e.g. the excellent University of Calgary Library & Archives located within The Military Museums.

Personnel Records

You can do research on one of the many other soldiers that served during World War I. Files may be downloaded or can be ordered from Library and Archives Canada using the directions at the following link:

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Historical Resources On-line

Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919: (A complete history of the Canadian experience in World War I. Pages 233-329 deal with the 1917 battles listed below.)

Canada and The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917

Canada and the Battle for Hill 70 (a source for information about the 10th Battalion, recruited in Calgary and Area)

Canada and the Battle of Passchendaele

Canadian Military History Gateway

This is an online search engine/web portal that allows you to search what seven government departments and agencies have in online resources.

Canadian Military Heritage, Volume 3, Chapter 4: Unending Siege


There are many books about Canada and World War I. A search of any library will yield many of these. Within the past year books have been published on both Vimy and Hill 70 with a great deal of new material.