Canada History

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Prehistory | 2 Worlds Meet | New France | England Arrives | Clash of Empires | Revolution | British America | Reform/Revolt | Responsible Government | Confederation | Nation Building | Laurier | The Great War | Roaring 20's | Great Depression | WWII | The Peace | Cold War | Trudeau | PC's in Power | Modern Canada

Golden Summer | European Powder Keg | Sarajavo | Canada Goes to War | Building an Army | Union Government | Nationalism | Women Get the Vote | Conscription Act | The Home Front | Victory | Aftermath

When the first World War broke out, many felt that it would be a short dramatic war finished by Christmas at the latest. A few realized that the struggle could go on for an extended period, but almost all, with the exception of a section of the French Canadian population, were swept up in the patriotic fever of the events. Once the  decision to go to war had been made, mobilization began and agriculture, industry, transportation, financial instruments and any other required component for the war effort swung into high gear.

The mainly agricultural base of Canada was to undergo a vast expansion of industrial production capacity with existing companies growing exponentially and new manufacturing springing up everywhere. More trains were needed to move soldiers, food, weapons, supplies and workers, more ships were needed to get much needed material over to England and France and of course more workers were needed to expand the farming capacity, fill the new jobs in new factories and of course to replace all of the young men who had signed up to go overseas.

Control boards were set up by the government to regulate and oversee all facets of production, transportation, training and supply. During the war the Government was forced to take over both the Grand Trunk and the Canadian Northern Railways in order to keep the trains moving. The workers were able to exert more influence over working conditions owning to the fact that they were in such high demand. Women were brought into the workforce when all of the men were either already working or had gone off the fight. Unions were able to recruit more members then ever and found a more secure place in the labour management relations of the economy.

Payment for all of this activity was raised in several different forms. War Bonds were sold which would be redeemed after the war was over, a higher debt was run and new taxes were introduced such as the first ever personal income tax and a federal sales tax. Taxes were also placed on excess profits made by companies that bid for and had received war contracts. Fund raising campaigns were started and run by many non=profit, patriotic organizations.

The anti German feeling across the country resulted in many incidents of malevolent and violent behaviour against German Canadian and Berlin Ontario went so far as to change it's name to Kitchener, after the war leader General Kitchener. The anti-French feeling also increased due to the feeling that many English Canadians had about French Canadian hesitancy to totally join the war effort and have the young men sign up to fight in Europe. The contrasting reaction on the French Canadian side was that the British Empire was trying to force the Canadians to fight and die for the Empires greater glory.

The Manitoba Legislature used the face paced war activities to use Empire patriotism to pass the Education Act of 1916 which eliminated French instruction in the schools.

The women were happy to fill the roles they were asked to but they also asked for some basic rights such as the right to vote and the right to actually hold office. By 1916, led by such notable suffragettes as Nellie Mclung, the vote was granted to women and equality granted.

And finally the crystallization of a national consciousness started with Canada stepping up to fight in the war, then the total effort that was made on the home front combined with the great victories which the Canadian troops ended up winning. Through more communication in the quickly growing industrialized centres, the travel of civilians and soldiers abroad and just moving to new and old towns to fulfill the required work force, these all contributed to a Canada emerging form the great war as bright new light on the international stage.