War on the Home Front
Daniel MacMillan never saw the battlefields of Passchendaele or Vimy Ridge. A farmer in the tiny New Brunswick community of Williamsburg, he experienced the Great War entirely from the "home front." War on the Home Front: The Farm Diaries of Daniel MacMillan, 1914-1927 is a portrait of the other side of war from the perspective of a man who, like countless families across North America, had no choice but keep on going with his life as sons, nephews, brothers and fathers fought and died on battlefields worlds away.
As MacMillan's moving wartime diaries reveal, these years took a terrible toll on him, his family, his farm, and his community. A fascinating chronicle of wartime life, Daniel MacMillan expressed the fear, anxiety and uncertainty as well as the sense of duty and fortitude that characterized the war experience on an individual level, making the tragic four-year event much clearer in diary form than in second-hand reports.
His insider's account of supplying money, men, equipment, and especially food for the country and the troops documents the often unnoticed sacrifices of rural people in wartime and their post-war struggles to recover. The diary is also a testament to the loyalty of the people of Stanley parish, who mobilized the churches, women's groups and other institutions to provide aid to the troops overseas, the Red Cross and other war-related issues. A unique historical document, War on the Home Front encompasses entries written between 1914 and 1927 in which MacMillan describes the hardships of running a farm in the face of acute labour shortages and the anguish of losing friends and neighbours in battle.
War on the Home Front is Volume 7 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Bill Parenteau is associate professor of history at the University of New Brunswick and editor of Acadiensis: Journal of the History of the Atlantic Region. He has published extensively on the environmental history and political economy of natural resources in the Maritimes, particularly with regard to the forest industries and fisheries.
Stephen Dutcher is the assistant editor of Acadiensis: Journal of the History of the Atlantic Region and a specialist in the history of Atlantic Canada, co-operatives, and Aboriginal-Canadian relations. He teaches history at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton and on the web through Saint Mary's University in Halifax.
Pub date: April 28, 2006