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Military Lecture – War Junk: Munitions Disposal and Postwar Reconstruction in Canada

November 26, 2020

A pile of airplanes and various military vehicles illustrated in black on an olive green background.

Guelph Museums’ 2020-2021 military lecture series is going digital! 

Dr. Alex Souchen presents, War Junk: Munitions Disposal and Postwar Reconstruction in Canada.

War Junk reveals the complex political, economic, social, and environmental legacies of munitions disposal in Canada. During the Second World War, Canadian factories produced mountains of munitions and supplies, including some 800 ships, 16,000 aircraft, 800,000 vehicles, and over 4.6 billion rounds of ammunition and artillery shells. Although they were crucial to winning the war, these assets turned into peacetime liabilities when hostilities ended in 1945.

Drawing on comprehensive archival research, Alex Souchen provides a definitive account of the disposal crisis triggered by Allied victory and shows how Canadian policymakers implemented a disposal strategy that facilitated postwar reconstruction. Canadians responded to the unprecedented divestment of public property by reusing and recycling military surpluses to improve their postwar lives.

From the fear of deflating markets with surplus assets to the thriftiness of upcycling the remnants of war, Souchen argues that the disposal of munitions and supplies was integral to the making of postwar Canada.

This book will appeal to military and Canadian historians and those interested in material culture and military artifacts.

Offered in partnership with the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies.


War Junk book cover by Dr. Alex Souchen. There is a pile of black airplane and miscellaneous military vehicle graphics in the centre of the cover. The background is olive green. In white stencil font along the top of the cover reads War Junk. The subheader in black text reads Munitions Disposal and Postwar Reconstruction in Canada

About Alex Souchen

Portrait photo of Alex Souchen smiling. He has pale skin and blonde hair. He is wearing a blue collared shirt and dark rimmed glasses.

Alex Souchen is a historian specializing in warfare, society, and the environment in Canada, based in Kingston. He received his PhD from the University of Western Ontario and held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. He currently holds an Associated Medical Services Postdoctoral Fellowship at Trent University’s Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies.


Did you miss the live event? Watch the recording of Military Lecture: War Junk below:


November 26, 2020
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Guelph Museums