The Cape Breton Highlanders and the Shaping of Canada: Conference on Military and Social History

Cape Breton Highlanders Association / Cape Breton University / Atlantic Memorial Park

October 1-2, 2021 at Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia

On October 13, 1871, the Victoria Provisional Battalion of Infantry was officially organized and headquartered at Baddeck, Victoria County, Nova Scotia. The battalion, known today as the Cape Breton Highlanders, drew from settler and immigrant communities to Cape Breton Island in the 19th century – largely Highlanders of Scottish origin whose families had arrived in the previous decades. One hundred and fifty years later, in October of 2021, the Cape Breton Highlanders are again coming together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their organization. 

In recognition of this most august event, Cape Breton University in conjunction with the Cape Breton Highlanders Association and the Atlantic Memorial Park are hosting a conference on the history and influence of the Cape Breton Highlanders, the military history of Canada between 1871 and the present, as well as related areas of social history. This conference will commence a schedule of events relating to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Cape Breton Highlanders, culminating with a formal Presentation of Colours on Saturday, 2 October 2021.

The conference will bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines as well as members of the Canadian military, policymakers, representatives of heritage organizations and museums and community-based projects involving military and social history in Canada. Themes include the history of the Cape Breton Highlanders, Indigenous and African-Canadian contributions to Canada’s military, life on the home front (broadly considered) and Heritage and Commemoration of Canada at War. 

The Cape Breton Highlanders and the Shaping of Canada is being co-organized by Cape Breton University, the Cape Breton Highlanders Association, and the Atlantic Memorial Park. Presenters should plan to cover their own travel and accommodations, although in special circumstances organizers may be able to help defray some costs.  

The organizers would like to thank Cape Breton University, the Cape Breton Highlanders, Atlantic Memorial Park and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for supporting this conference.