Aldona Sendzikas

- Associate Professor

image of Aldona Sendzikas 
PhD, University of Hawai'i, 2002
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 84377

Research Interests

Professor Sendzikas specializes in 20th century U.S. and military history, as well as American Studies. Her research interests include the U.S. Submarine Service, particularly during WWII; prisoner of war issues; Canada-U.S. relations; and Cold War culture and society.

Major Research Projects

Working in conjunction with the Historic Naval Ships Association, I am currently compiling an anthology of first-person accounts of navy life. This compilation will consist of oral histories and first person accounts by enlisted men and women representing a wide range of ships, navies, and eras, but describing aspects of navy life that are fairly common throughout naval history and experience—for example: boot camp; getting one’s “sea legs”; standing watch; seasickness; discipline at sea; bravery and/or fear at sea; injuries/medical emergencies at sea; etc. Together, these accounts will comprise a sort of “diary” of the daily shipboard life of an average sailor. No matter what sort of ship one served on, in what navy, or in what time period, there are common experiences and aspects of navy life that all sailors have experienced.

I am also currently researching the experience of women in wartime, based on oral histories and first-person accounts--specifically, women left behind on the home front during WWII, and the experience of waiting for, communicating with, and learning to cope without a husband or son who was overseas, and the role and significance of correspondence during wartime.

Other projects include a biography of champion equestrian and animal rights activists Col. Reginald Symonds Timmis of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, and a study of wartime souvenirs, focusing on those produced to commemorate Operation Desert Storm.

Select Publications


Barracks Cover

(2011) Stanley Barracks: Toronto's Military Legacy (Dundurn Press) 212pp.

Stanley Barracks, located in the present day Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto, was constructed by the British Army in 1841 in Toronto to replace Fort York and was originally known as “the New Fort.” After the withdrawal of British forces from Canada in 1871, Stanley Barracks served various purposes, including training depot for the Northwest Mounted Police and internment centre for “enemy-aliens” during the First World War. This, the first comprehensive history of Stanley Barracks, includes material about the role of the C.N.E. grounds as “Exhibition Camp” during the two World Wars. Stanley Barracks was awarded Heritage Toronto's Award of Merit by the City of Toronto.


Lucky 73 Cover

(2010) Lucky 73: USS Pampanito’s Unlikely Rescue of Allied POWs in WWII (University Press of Florida) 258pp.

Lucky 73 recounts the sinking of Japanese transport ships by U.S. submarines in the South China Sea in 1944, and the subsequent rescue--also by submarines--of British and Australian POWs who had been aboard those ships. The book focuses on the submarine USS Pampanito (SS-383), and is based on first-hand written accounts, oral history interviews with both the submarine crew and the POWs they rescued, and official naval records. Lucky 73 was nominated for the Society for History in the Federal Government's Henry Adams Prize and the North American Society for Oceanic History's John Lyman Book Prize.


  • "Since You Went Away" (about relationships and correspondence during wartime), in Behind the Lines: Canada's Homefront during the First and Second World Wars (London: Western/McIntosh Gallery, 2018).
  • "Very Much a Prisoner": Japanese- Canadians during the Second World War", in Behind the Lines: Canada's Homefront during the First and Second World Wars (London: Western/ McIntosh Gallery, 2017).
  •  “Unredeemed Americans:  Canada as Seen by the American Colonies before the Revolutionary War.”  The Journal of Erie Studies, Spring 2016.
  • “Aboard Japan’s WWII Hellships:  First Person Accounts.”  Sea Letter, No. 72, Fall 2015.
  • “On Womanhood in Wartime: Canadian Women and the Second World War.”  Published in exhibit catalogue (“Over Here:  Women, Work and WWII”).  McIntosh Gallery and Museum London, 2004.


Professional Service

Teaching and Museum Experience

Prior to coming to Western, I taught American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and U.S. History at Chaminade University of Honolulu, both on campus and on military bases throughout the island of O‘ahu.

I have also worked at a number of museums, including as Assistant Curator at Historic Fort York in Toronto; Museum Curator at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor; and Curator/Education Manager at USS Pampanito in San Francisco. I have also done curatorial consulting work for the USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California.