Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Mark Humphries

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Amy Milne-Smith

Advisor Role

Committee Member

Third Advisor

Erika Dyck

Advisor Role

Committee Member


This dissertation traces the life histories of Canadian soldiers diagnosed with tuberculosis during the Great War into their post-war lives. Beginning with a contextual chapter that follows the evolution of consumption, the nineteenth century hereditary disease, into tuberculosis, the greatly feared infectious disease of the twentieth, the remaining four chapters focus on a group of about ten thousand military men who navigated illness from the point of diagnosis on the battlefields until their deaths across the twentieth century. By drawing from newly digitized personnel records and pension files of soldiers from the Great War, and combining them with six rarely consulted newspapers published by veterans while taking treatment at sanatoria, it reveals that tuberculosis was both a culturally constructed state of ill health and a debilitating disease with long-term material impacts on sufferers’ lives.

From the battlefields of the Western Front to post-war Canada, tuberculous veterans’ experience of war and illness conferred upon them a dual status of disabled veteran and tuberculosis sufferer. Drawing from their experiences in the trenches, they reshaped institutional culture into something recognizable and familiar. They also contested cultural understandings of war disability and articulated radical reform for long-term tuberculosis care based upon their status as military service members and experiences as patients. Finally, they challenged the boundaries of the emerging welfare state in Canada, again drawing strength from their rights as disabled veterans and needs as tuberculosis sufferers. Tuberculosis was a lifelong, life-altering diagnosis, and tuberculous veterans collectively mobilized both of their identities in an effort to secure their welfare after the war.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Thursday, March 11, 2027