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The Impact of WWI and WWII on Canada

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Mary Pham

on 15 June 2014

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Transcript of The Impact of WWI and WWII on Canada

The theme of this exhibit is Canada’s participation in the World Wars and the impact that World War I and World War II had on Canada as a nation. Many events that took place during the World Wars temporarily placed Canada in a troubling position, but, in the long run, proved to be catalysts for changes that would result in the transformation of Canadian identity.
Both World War I and World War II had significant effects on Canadian politics. Here are some of the political changes that were made after the World Wars which contributed to Canada’s sovereignity and peacekeeping:
• Women (particularly The Famous Five) fought for and earned the right to be considered “persons” and to vote

• Canada earned its own seat in the League of Nations – a major step toward its national independence

• Canada’s success in the battle of Vimy Ridge united Canadian citizens and promoted independence from Great Britain

• The Balfour Report in 1926 and the Statute of Westminster in 1931 confirmed that all dominions in the Commonwealth of Nations were equal in status; Canada was no longer below Great Britain in terms of status

• Canada developed its own foreign policy separate from Great Britain

• Canada participated in the Paris Peace Conference and gained more national recognition, unity, and independence

• Canada signed the Treaty of Versailles, an act that brought more autonomy to the nation

Canadian troops coming home from their successful battle at Vimy Ridge
Canadian politics correlates with Canadian warfare and, thus, signifies importance to the theme of World War I and World War II. Because of the World Wars, Canada’s political stance has changed for the better. Although the nation suffered several political conflicts throughout the wars, such as control from Great Britain and lack of national independence, the outcome of Canadian politics proved to be one of great improvement as Canada, in the end, both earned recognition for its participation in the world wars and received its status as an autonomous nation that was no longer under the control of Great Britain. After World War I and World War II, many political advances allowed Canada to become the peaceful nation it is known as today.
Despite Canada’s moments of economic instability during the World Wars, the nation soon prospered as the wars allowed for the economy to grow and flourish. Here are several instances in which the Canadian economy improved after World War I and World War II:
• Many people were employed as there was a high demand for factory workers to make munitions for the war

• Since many women had to replace men’s jobs during the war, they earned their role in the workplace and became a part of the Canadian economy

• Canadian agriculture flourished and Canada exported large quantities of wheat to other countries such as the United Kingdom

• The Canadian government created the Imperial Munitions Board (IMB) which became Canada’s largest employer and provided 250,000 citizens with jobs

Women working in factories during WWI
• The high demand for nurses, farm laborers, and factory workers allowed for unemployment rates to decrease

• Canadian exports grew substantially

• Canada increased production in manufactured goods in order to provide for Britain’s high demand

• Economic productivity improved as the Canadian government and private-sector businesses organized and assisted in the rapid mobilization of resources

• Canada’s shipbuilding industry flourished

• After World War II, wages increased and the average family income rose

• The demand for Canada’s natural resources allowed for Canada to produce $5.8 billion during the second world war

Canada's shipbuilding industry
The Canadian economy plays a role in the theme of war as our nation has made great economic progress since World War I and World War II. Participating in warfare meant that the nation had to develop quick methods for producing munitions for both itself and its allies out in the battlefield. Seeing that the majority of, if not all, men were out fighting for Canada, the absence of male workers provided women with the opportunity to work in factories and develop their identity in the Canadian economy. The World Wars provided Canada with the opportunity to build new skills regarding manufacturing, production, and exportation. The growth of the economy during World War I and World War II proved Canada capable of economic success with its citizens working together for the bettering of the nation.
The cultural conflicts that occurred between Canadian citizens and minorities during the World Wars led to significant cultural advances in Canadian society. Many citizens merged together after the wars and Canada found a new sense of nationalism. Here are several examples of cultural improvement after World War I and World War II:
• Women proved the extent of their capabilities outside of staying home and raising children; their employment changed cultural views regarding women. Seeing that women had more power than they did before the war, their dress, appearance, and behavior changed to promote their new sense of freedom and suffrage. Although women were not allowed to retain their jobs after the wars ended, their participation in the work force served as improvement for Canadian culture and society

• Japanese, African American, and Austro-Hungarian citizens that were formerly placed in internment camps during the wars were later removed from them, received an apology on behalf of the government, and eventually integrated into Canadian society

• After World War II ended, Lester B. Pearson launched the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism to ease the ongoing tension between French and English speaking citizens in Canada

• In efforts to prevent the cultural and racial conflicts that occurred during the wars, as well as to respond to the concerns of ethnic communities, the federal government announced a policy of multiculturalism that had key features Canada would participate in, such as: supporting ethnic groups to preserve their own culture, promoting efforts to exchange and share different heritage, and assisting immigrants in learning Canada’s languages

• After both wars ended, Canada’s unity allowed for citizens to celebrate their multiculturalism and cultural growth as a nation. There was less tension among Canadian citizens and minorities as a result of the new laws and regulations that the government made regarding culture

The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
“Canadians enjoy the good life in the prosperity of the post-war years. New immigrants and refugees arrive in a country brimming with possibilities,” (CBC)
Here is an article that focuses on gender expectations and roles during and after World War I, particularly those of women:

"National Unity, if it is to mean anything within a deeply personal sense, must be founded on confidence in one's own individual identity; out of this can grow respect for that of others and a willingness to share ideas, attitudes and assumptions. A vigorous policy of multiculturalism will help create this initial confidence. It can form the base of a society which is based on fair play for all."

- Pierre Elliot Trudeau
Canadian culture relates to this exhibit’s theme of war as the World Wars transformed Canada as a diverse and multicultural country. The conflicts and tensions that arose during World War I and World War 2 between Canadian citizens and minorities served as catalysts for government intervention later on. After both wars ended, government policies were made regarding multiculturalism and bilingualism. Because of this, Canada has progressed as a nation full of immigrants of different ethnicity. The racial conflicts during World War I and World War II resulted in Canada’s efforts to maintain peace and successfully function as a diverse nation.
The conflicts that were seen during World War I and World War II had positive outcomes when the war ended as they helped push for political, economic, and cultural change. If warfare had not occurred, Canada would have not developed to its full potential or progress as a strong and stable nation it is known as today. Canada’s transformation throughout the wars occurred for the well-being of all citizens; it resulted in Canada’s respectable position in the global community, and also improved the everyday lives of citizens. Because of Canada’s participation in World War I and World War II, the nation has seen positive changes regarding political equality and human rights. The wars allowed for Canadian economy to advance as manufacturing grew and citizens were brought together to work as a team. Canadian culture has seen changes after the wars as Canada was brought closer together in order to prevent any future conflicts and promote a sense of nationalism. Thus, the impact that the World Wars had on Canada is one of significance as it serves as a major part of Canadian history and identity.
"We wish nothing more, but we will accept nothing less. Masters in our own house we must be, but our house is the whole of Canada."

- Pierre Trudeau
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