Canada Becoming a Nation
What Influence Did World War I Have Over Canada?
After reading about the Canadian accomplishments during World War I, it comes as no surprise the bloodiest war in history is commonly associated with the birth of this nation's independence. The first five battles that had taken place during the First World War contributed to make Canada a nation. The First World War helped encourage most Canadians to embark on the route to autonomy, or self-governance, and lead the fight in getting them recognized as a separate entity.
battles that changed canada's reputation
The map below shows the locations Canadian troops fought at.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917 was the first major step from Canada being just another British colony to becoming an equal member of the British Commonwealth. Although all Canadian troops were under the British Expeditionary Force, they did have their own section; the Canadian Corps. At the Battle of Vimy Ridge a military force composed of mostly the Canadian Corps succeeded in taking the last German stronghold. This showed that Canada had established themselves as a self-sufficient country and not only a part of the British Empire. Also, from this triumph came a first for the Canadian Corps. The victory became a post-war symbol for the identity of Canada.
The video compiles actual footage taken from the Battle of Vimy Ridge to give you perspective on the battle conditions and weaponry the Canadians had to face.
Launched on 31 July 1917, the British offensive in Flanders had aimed to drive the Germans away from the essential Channel Ports and to eliminate U-Boat bases on the coast. The British lost an estimated 275,000 casualties at Passchendaele to the German’s 220,000, making it one of the war’s most costly battles of attrition. Although there had been considerable losses of life at Passchendaele, the Canadians succeeded where the others had failed. The Canadian troops became known as the Storm Troopers.
In 1915, the Second Battle of Ypres established the reputation of the Canadians as a fighting force. The 1st Canadian Division had just arrived on the Western Front when they won recognition by holding their ground against a new weapon of modern warfare - chlorine gas, employed by the Germans.
Sir Robert Borden
William Avery "Billy" Bishop
Sir Arthur Currie
Arthur Currie was the man behind all the Canadian victories Europe had witnessed during the First World War. He started off as a commander of the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade and sent his men to fight in the Second Battle of Ypres. When most of the Triple Entente's soldiers were compelled to flee in the wake of the poison gas onslaught, Curries brigade maintained their position, refusing to let the enemy claim a victory. Ypres was the first significant assault of the Canadians and truly put the name of Canada on the lips of the entire world, convincing them of its valour and determination. Currie was promoted to be the commander of the Canadian Corps in 1917, leading his troops to several other triumphs over the course of the war. They include Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele, and Arras. These performances only helped bring Canada under the spotlight, and the praise from the Allies gradually birthed the treatment as an independent nation and a sense of nationalism.
In Flanders Fields - read by Tim Lihoreau by Classic_FM
The audio clip above is a recitation of world-renowned war poem "In Flanders Fields." It was written by a Canadian, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, and showed that Canadians serving in World War I not only possessed brawn but also poetic talent.
Canadian soldiers celebrating the defeat of the Germans at Vimy.
Prime Minister Borden and his wife photographed during their trip to Paris for the 1919 Peace Conference.
The national Corps courageously going "over the top".
the treaty of versailles
The video above outlines the content of Treaty of Versailles and the reaction it triggered from the other empires. Canada was an active participant in the Paris Peace Conference, thanks to Prime Minister Borden. The country itself played a small role in creating the Treaty but, after much struggle, got an individual commissioner to attend the Conference. This act established the perception of Canada as a nation. Sir Borden thought it was only fair that Canada should regarded as a sovereign state after making such a heavy sacrifice, 60,000 lives, to a war effort the nation had no choice but to participate in. However, things did not go entirely as planned. The British Prime Minister signed the Treaty on behalf of the entire empire, downplaying the value of the signature to Canadian nationalists. On the bright side, the Treaty guided Canada to its own seat in the League of Nations, where it would continue to declare itself as a separate country to the rest of the world.
the Damages of the War
- Along with providing the government more control over the land, the War Measures Act permitted new and improved powers to bring action against the war. These powers included being able to arrest Canadians, censorship, and having the right to take control over any property.
- Canada fought mostly in Belgium and France, and it was there when they did not have to rely on the British. Instead, the British relied on Canada for support, supplies, and arms. Canada had one of the largest military makers by the end of the war. The supplies were made by the women and the wounded.
- The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, and came precisely 5 years after Franz Ferdinand's assassination.
- The Canadian war record was what won Canada an individual signature on the Peace Treaty, indicating that the national status had been received.
- 70 Canadians were bestowed with the Victoria Cross for demonstrating the "most conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy" by the end of the Great War.
- There were over 650,000 Canadian recruitments in the First World War. Of this, 66,000 died serving their country while another 172,000 were injured.
This pie graph compares the percentage of Canadian casualties in the war with the fraction of those who came home physically sound.
impacts, contribution, and sacrifice
The video below will help put you in the shoes of Canadian soldiers so you can experience the war from their perspective, such as the horrendous battle conditions and advanced weaponry they had to cope with.
The following links lead to websites where Canada's role in the First World War can be read in depth, complete with interesting videos and graphics.
Below are various tweets that talk about Canada in World War I.
- Who were three heroes that changed the face of this nation?
- What event(s) led Canada to become a member of the League of Nations, and continue to declare itself as a separate entity to the rest of the world?
- The war had caused a lot of damage to Canada and toppled Canada in massive debt. How much was the debt that Canada owed?
- How many Canadian recruitments were there in the First World War?
- How many Canadians were bestowed with the Victoria cross?
- What was the overall impact the First World War had on Canada?