The list below is a very small selection from the vast and ever growing materials on the war. The emphasis is on first person accounts and general history of Canadian involvement.

General Histories of Canadian Participation in the Civil War

There are three important histories of the Civil War written from a Canadian perspective:

Victor Hoar was an academic and produced the most detailed of the three histories, The Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion: the Canadian Contingent in the Spanish Civil War (written with the research assistance of Mac Reynolds). In style it  is a conventional military and social history, particularly strong on providing clear chronology and sorting out the often confusing events. He also gives more information on what was happening in Canada than Beeching. (Copp Clark Publishing, Toronto, 1969, reissued by Carleton University Press, 1989)

W.C Beeching was volunteer himself and a postwar leader of the Saskatchewan Communist Party. His book, Canadian Volunteers: Spain, 1936-1939, quotes first person accounts to a much greater extent and through them gives a greater sense of the character of  the participants themselves. The battle descriptions are well organized and it has a number of maps. It also includes a  particularly useful description of the Spanish background in a preface by James Napier McCrorie. Beeching tends to focus exclusively on the experience of the volunteers in Spain with little reference to events in Canada..

Mark Zuehlke's
The Gallant Cause: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 is the most unusual of the three. Zuehlke is a professional writer who describes his approach as literary non-fiction, "shaping the narrative around the limited point of view of the participants."  His book is compelling reading from the beginning of the narrative with various volunteers thinking through their reasons for travelling to Spain to his harrowing account of the final battles. Its strength, putting us so strongly in the minds and experiences of the participants, does however at times leave the reader without the clear narrative sequence provided by Hoar's book. (Whitecap Books Ltd., Vancouver/Toronto  1996)

Mark Zuehlke's book might be the best choice for the reader looking for a single account but all three books are well crafted and all three contribute material of interest.

First Person Accounts

Kardash, William (Lt.): I Fought for Canada in Spain
Kardash was a tank officer. He was seriously wounded at the Ebro, losing a leg. He later became a Winnepeg alderman.
New Era Publishers, Toronto [1938]

Alvarez, Manuel , The Tall Soldier
Alvarez was young boy saved by the action of a Canadian Volunteer. His book is a memoir of the war and of his attempt (successful) to find Jimmy Higgins, the man that saved his life. It is a well written and vivid memoir.
Virgo Press, Toronto   [1980]


Biggar Peck, Mary: Red Moon Over Spain

Canadian Media Reaction to the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939

Steel Rail Publishing, Ottawa, Ontario;  [1988] ISBN 0-88791-037-8;  PN4908.P43   1988    946.081   C88-090361-9

Editors: Volpe, Nicola & Albari, Maha: Sealed In Struggle: Canadian Poetry & the Spanish Civil War
There were no Canadian Poets who fought in Spain, but many wrote about it and some of the combatants also subsequently wrote poems about their experience. This anthology is an important gathering of their output.
Center for Canadian Studies, Universidad de la Laguna, Canary Islands/Spain;  [1995] Anthology/limited non-commercial printing

Allan, Ted&  Gordon, Sydney: The Scalpel, The Sword
Biography of Norman Bethune
McClelland & Stewart, Toronto  [1952]

Thomas, Gordon & Morgan Witts, Max:  Guernica: The Crucible for World War II
How Hitler’s Air force Destroyed a Spanish City for Franco  in Practice for World War II

Stein and Day, New York [1975], Scarborough House, Chelsa, MI  USA [paperback 1991] ISBN 0-8128-8513-9


A number of Universities, Governments and private organizations hold archival material of use to researchers. The principal Canadian archives are:

Canadian Plains Research Centre, University of Regina, SK
Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, Toronto, ON
National Archives of Canada, Ottawa  -  Mackenzie-Papineau Collection
Simon Fraser University, BC
link: Julius Fisher / Working TV
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
On to Ottawa Trekkers – see their website for archival links

Many Canadians fought in the American Abraham Lincoln Battalion. They maintain an archive in New York and the back issues of their Periodical, The Volunteer are in themselves a valuable archive. See their website

The Moscow archives contain considerable material on the volunteers: questionaires, reports and other documents on the volunteers that was taken back to Moscow after the civil war. This has been reviewed and analysed by Michael Petrou a Canadian journalist as a doctoral project at Oxford. See the History section of this website for a summary and contact Michael for any further details.

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