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Lecture 6

HIST 203 Lecture 6: 2-14-2017 World War I

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McGill University
HIST 203
John Zucchi

Canada and WWI Start of War Views -One of the hardest periods for Canada, which forged a true national identity -A certain idealism for English Canadianswould be a quick conflict in support of the Empire -Social reformers were perturbed by the violence of the conflict and sought to tackle its causes -War against oppression -Methodists came to support this -Radical labor groups opposed the war as a final stage in the downfall of capitalism -Labor movement was replaced with a more radical miner and industrial set of unions -Many came to see the conflict as senseless -Groups like Ukrainian Canadians were ostracized and society got tense with the government placing pressure August 4 1914 -Europe was a tinderbox -The legacy of colonialism -Britain and Germany in a naval buildup -August 4, Canada is at war when Britain declares in reaction to Germany’s invasion of Belgium -War Measures Act delegates emergency powers to the state during the war, but Canadians didn’t know the length of the war -Borden tried to develop a policy of involvement -Tied to a British-Canadian identity and the imperial ties -Canada only had 59,000 troops with 10,000 armed, so talk of conscription began -The first Canadian expeditionary force was about 35,000 men, with over 23,000 British born -French Canadians felt a sense of isolationism and resentment over the British nature of the militia -Social pressures on all able bodied males existed, but if a draft was implemented, they could fill the demands Language Crisis At Home -In Eastern Ontario there were numerous French schools, which had been English before and were shut down by the Ontario government by regulation -French had become a majority in some communities, so the French were very mad about this -Led to more resentment against the war -Appointing a French Canadian as recruitment director didn’t even mollify them Homefront -Tensions soared -Couldn’t draft too many farmers because they needed food -Allocation of all resources was key to the effort -Borden and the cabinet boosted Canada’s involvement War Breaks Out and Canada Goes Front -February 1915, the first Canadian militia was sent over, to Ypres -Faced poison gas attacks here -Took many casualties at Somme, but gained experience -Canadians carried out raids into trenches charging forth and replacing successive lines and were effective -48/60 worked Recruitment -By early 1916, Borden set a quota of soldiers to help Britain with 500,000 Canadians at the front -Road to conscription -Battalions sent over were split up to reinforce and replace earlier recruits -A draft began and all Canadian males had to register -National Service Board made a decision of where each person should go -Industry, agriculture, or army -Many Canadians left to avoid being drafted, and most unions, even the Trade and Labor Union, did not want actual conscription -On the left, politicians called for conscription of the wealth gained through war -Questions of conscience arose, with French Canadians, Quakers, and Mennonites -Draft cards went out in January 1917 -There had been a promise of just assessment -1.5 million draft cards, with half a million being military prospects and 20% hadn’t filled their cards -By May, Borden was pressured by the National Service Board to conscript all the able-bodied prospects -In June, he instituted conscription Vimy -One of the most planned battles -Peak Canadian involvement on the Western Front, with a high level of casualties -More and more reinforcements were needed -Had 100,000 at the front in 4 divisions but needed another 30,000 by summer -Volunteer sign ups had dried up Conscription and Its Impacts -Strengthened the Conservatives and short-term destroyed the Liberal Party -Successful in raising the size of the armed
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