A Bank Clerk at War: The Great War Diary of Nova Scotian A.I.M. Taylor, 85th Battalion C.E.F.
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This thesis is an exploration of the previously unpublished diary of Aleck Taylor, a private of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War. Taylor’s methodical daily entries offer a unique opportunity for both qualitative and quantitative analysis of his wartime experiences. Archival research and secondary sources, as well as comparison to contemporaneous accounts inform the discussion of Taylor’s world, and enable analysis of his time in training, in combat both under fire, and during the monotony of daily trench life, and his time at leisure. Taylor’s entries regarding some of the most pivotal Canadian engagements of the war as well as the humdrum of daily life offer a robust source for microhistory analysis. Examination of Taylor’s diary with regard to contemporaries like Will R. Bird and Sydney Frost reveal that Taylor’s war experiences were broadly typical, but his reactions to them mark him as being somewhat atypical, placing him within a spectrum of typicality among Canadian soldiers of the First World War. The reserved, bookish Taylor who emerges from his diary does not mesh with the current view of Canadian troops as mischievous, unruly brawlers and troublemakers. Taylor may be representative of many young Canadian soldiers who did not fit this stereotype, but are underrepresented in the current literature.