Canada History

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In 1914, Canada as a nation was only 47 years old and had a population of just over seven million. As a result of government policy, immigrants had poured into Canada, attracted by the land available to them in the West. Between 1900 and 1914, the population had increased by 40 percent, some one million of them British immigrants. But not all of these newcomers were welcome, and ethnic tensions were high in the immediate pre-War years, as some Canadians expressed anxiety about the "threats to Anglo-Saxon culture."

Canada was still predominantly an agri-cultural country, although the population shift to urban centres was under way. No city was larger than half a million (Montreal). Unemployment was rising. particularly as a result of a depression which began in 1913. Recent developments, in particular the railways which now linked east and west, held hope for the future, while Canada's primary industries  (manufacturing) was threatened by the decline in foreign investment (mainly British), and the economic outlook was poor until recovery began with the advent of war.

Militarily Canada had little, compared with the European powers. Other than sending a small contingent to fight in South Africa in the Boer War, the country had limited military experience. It had a small regular Army of 3,110 men. Perhaps 65,000 to 70,000 others had received some basic training in local militia units. There were few serviceable modern guns and rifles, and other equipment was almost non-existent. There was also a serious shortage of trained officers. As for the Navy, it possessed two ancient cruisers purchased from Britain, only one of which was seaworthy in 1914, and a total of 350 men.

Some modernization had taken place under the Defence Minister, Sir Frederick Borden, with the building of new armouries and rifles ranges, the establishment of a military base at Petawawa and the creation of a small general staff. Most importantly, a War Book of plans for every government department in the event of hostilities had been created and mobilization arrangements were put in place.