Group of 7 is full of references to Canadian history, art and popular culture. Some are obvious, others not so much. You can find a panel-by-panel breakdown below.
Interested in learning more about the story’s characters, events and inspiration? Hit the links provided. They are intended to be reputable sources of information and exploration.
Page 1 – Panel 1
Following the First World War, the map of Europe changed drastically. Old empires fell while new nation states emerged. A summary of Europe’s changing borders from 1900 – present can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/europe/02/euro_borders/html/default.stm
Prior to the Second World War, the term ‘most secret’ was the highest security classification given to information used and shared by the British Empire.
The ‘Great War’ was the most commonly used term at the time for the global conflict that would later become known as the First World War.
The title ‘Weighty Ghost’ is taken from a song of the same name by Halifax band Wintersleep. The song appears on the band’s 2007 album Welcome to the Night Sky. Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJxjR-jBbU
Page 1 – Panel 2
The flower depicted is a poppy, the inspiration behind John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields. Following the War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance. Its story can be found here: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/how-we-remember/the-story-of-the-poppy/?gclid=CKjdxOiCltMCFcm3wAodr8cGYw
It was a popular notion at the time that the War would only last until Christmas 1914. Explore more about initial attitudes towards the War here: https://www.theworldwar.org/explore/exhibitions/online-exhibitions/over-christmas
Page 1 – Panel 3
Definitions of trenches and trench warfare: https://www.britannica.com/topic/trench-warfare
Descriptions of the lives of Canadian soldiers in the trenches can be found here: http://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-the-front/trench-conditions/trench-routine/
Page 4 – Panel 1
Having been a battleground multiple times, the Belgian town of Ypres was almost completely destroyed by the War’s end with only a handful of buildings left standing. Its history as a continuously fortified settlement is explored here: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/ypres-salient/town-ieper-history-fortified.htm
Page 4 – Panel 2
The strategic importance of Ypres was that the town stood in the path of Germany’s planned offensive through Belgium and into northern France, which formed part of the Schlieffen Plan. More on that here: https://www.britannica.com/event/Schlieffen-Plan
Page 5 – Panel 1
First World War German rank of Hauptmann = Captain.
Page 5 – Panel 2
When war was declared in 1914, the ‘Allies’ or Allied Forces consisted of the original members of the Triple Entente – the French Republic, the British Empire and the Russian Empire. More on the history of European alliances leading up to the War here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/worldwarone/hq/causes2_01.shtml
Pages 6 – 8
April 22, 1915 was the first large-scale poison gas attack in modern history as the German army used chlorine gas to horrific effect on French, Algerian and Canadian forces. The Second Battle of Ypres was the first major engagement fought by the Canadians and despite the devastating effect of the gas, they managed to hold a strategic section of the front line until reinforcements arrived. More on the Canadian experience at the Ypres here: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/battle-of-ypres/
Page 7 – Panel 2
The German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 included the massacre of Belgian civilians. At the town of Leuven (Louvain), the university library, which housed ancient manuscripts among its 300,000 books, was destroyed. More here: https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/civilian-atrocities-german-1914
Page 7 – Panel 4
General Erich von Falkenhayn was Chief of the Imperial German Staff 1914-1916. http://www.firstworldwar.com/bio/falkenhayn.htm
Introducing John McCrae – physician, poet, soldier. Resources on McCrae are available on the Group of 7 website here. The panels suggest McCrae is recalling the Second Battle of Ypres from memory. Which he is. Because he was there. More on the Battle in the links on pages 6-8.