History of Medicine

Understanding the history of war trauma and psychiatric illness among Canadian veterans

Kandace Bogaert

Award: 2016 Post-Doctoral Fellow

Kandace is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies in the Department of History at Wilfrid Laurier University. She completed her PhD in Medical Anthropology at McMaster University in 2015. Her post-doctoral research focuses on veterans’ experiences with war trauma following the First World War. Forming the foundation of her research are the digitized pension files of Canada’s First World War veterans. Originally held by Veterans’ Affairs Canada, these pension files present an unparalleled window into individual veterans’ personal histories of war trauma – including medical reports, military service précis, and perhaps most significantly, letters from veterans and their families.

Kandace’s research plan is to trace individual veterans suffering from psychiatric illnesses at the Ontario Military Hospital at Cobourg, to their service and pension files, which extend from military service to death in many cases. This research will contribute to our understanding of the history of war trauma and the personal experiences of psychiatric illness among veterans in Canada. Kandace’s broader research interests also include the history of the treatment and perception of infectious diseases, and recruitment and conscription efforts of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.