1914-1918: Canada and the Great War Scott Masters Crestwood College 1914-1918: Canada and the Great War Scott Masters Crestwood College
Canada and the War… In Canada, a detailed plan for mobilizing 25 000 volunteers for a Canadian expeditionary force began. By Sept. 1914 more than 30 000 Canadians had signed up. Col. Sam Hughes-controversial Canadian Minister of the Militia who did not trust professional soldiers he set up Valcartier Camp in Quebec - training for 32 000 volunteer and inexperienced soldiers (cold, disorganized...) he showed old training films and taught old battle techniques, which would not equip the men for trench warfare
Ross Rifle - Colonial Sam Hughes favourite gun, which was issued to Canadian soldiers it was not any good for modern trench warfare: it jammed in the mud, seized up during rapid fire, and was not compatible with British bullets Hughes would not change the gun, but the British supplied the Canadian soldiers with the Lee- Enfield gun when they went to the Front
Canadian forces, once in Europe, spent the winter of 1914 in tents on the Salisbury Plain in southern England. (Conditions were rough but "better" than in Quebec.) Canadian officers were not ready to command a full division and troops were placed under the command of Sir Edward Alderson. Called Rawnecks, they were re-trained.
A government press censor banned all news stories that were considered harmful to the war effort. Propaganda posters appeared all over Canada, glorifying the "Great War"...this was indicative of the Total War effort to come, which would soon be promoted by the War Measures Act Across the nation, Canadians rallied for the war effort. Hundreds of church groups, women's organizations, charities sprang into action.
The Canadian Patriotic Fund: created by an act of Parliament and run by volunteers. It collected money for soldier's families, surviving on $1.10 a day of soldier's pay. In 3 months the fund raised $6 million, providing needy families with $50 a month. also set up small co-operative stores, where families could buy food and fuel.
Soldiers of the Soil: 12,000 boys helped out on Canadian farms. Many farmers had gone to war. These boys helped prevent crop failures and food shortages. Families practised rationing and voluntarily changed eating/consumption habits so that butter, meat, sugar, wheat, and fuel could be sent to troops overseas. Even young children helped by buying 25 cent thrift stamps to help gov't pay for war. When they had $4 of stamps they received a war savings stamp worth $5 after the war.
Other than soldiers, Canada's main contributions were food and munitions After war was declared, Russian wheat exports to Europe stopped Much of France's rich farmland was taken over by Germany 1915 had a perfect growing season for prairie wheat, and western farmers harvested the biggest cash crop in their history.
"Greater Production Farms" were established on Native reserves by W.M. Graham using native funds and land in order to produce food for the war effort. But intensive wheat farming began to ruin the fertile prairie soils during this time period creating the disastrous conditions of the 1930s "dust bowl".
By 1917, Canada had shipped millions of dollars' worth of shells and explosives from over 600 munitions factories - over 250 000 employed Canadian industrialists saw the opportunity to make large profits Corruption and profiteering was a problem: Sam Hughes' Shell Committee was disbanded by Borden and replaced by the Imperial Munitions Board, which answered to GB. The IMB was headed by Cdn.businessman Joseph W. Flavelle. By 1918, Canada had expanded to manufacturing airplanes and airplane engines, guns, cargo ships, chemicals and other weapons of war. 1500 factories employed 1/3 of a million people.
Profiteering and Scandal in the War The government relied on private enterprise to direct the wartime economy and industrial scandals and charges of profiteering ran rampant. People saw millionaire industrialists growing richer from dishonest dealings in war contracts, while they made sacrifices like cutting back on food consumption and fuel use. There was public outcry to "conscript wealth for war". Some wanted the government to nationalize (take over) the nation's banks and industries until the war's end.
Borden promised not to interfere with business in 1914 and was reluctant to change this policy. In 1916, Borden appointed a fuel controller to prevent industrialists from hoarding coal and food, and from rising food prices Instead of rolling back food price increases, as many Canadians expected, he food controller asked citizens to stop eating so much and to change their tastes. No serious attempt was made to curb the corrupt practices of private enterprise during the war
Paying for War Plagued by corruption and inefficiencies and a long war, the cost of war skyrocketed. By 1918, it had reached a staggering $ 1 million a day - Borden's gov't hurried to find new ways to pay for war. Borden's gov't implemented new income taxes intended as temporary measures. A business tax was announced in 1916 and the tax on personal income in 1917. But the two only brought in $ 50 million.
Finance minister Thomas White announced that gov't bonds would be offered for sale. Victory Bonds: bonds offered for sale. at 5 interest rate. In 1915 more than $ 100 million worth were sold. In 1917, a special issue of Victory Bonds was issued and over $ 500 million was raised.