World War I was one of the worst battles in the world’s history. It was fought from 1914 to 1918 which involved several allied forces trying to stop Germany and its allies from trying to dominate all of Europe. On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany and its allies because of the infringement they made on The Treaty of London of 1839. Legally being a member of the British Empire, Canada was involuntarily sent to war when Britain joined to fight. Canada helped immensely in the war but overall in the end, it lost. Wars always bring much sadness and losses to whoever takes part in it. Canada lost many brave men, caused more damage to the relationship between the French and English, gave a bad reputation to its history from the internment of Ukrainians, and the depression that Canada under went economically as an after-effect of the war.
Canada was under the authority of the British during World War I so its army was frequently ordered to take the burden of fighting for Britain. Canadian soldiers found themselves poorly prepared during the commencement of this war. They were given defective equipment, like the Ross Rifle, which made it more difficult to fight which then increased the casualty rate. In many battles, the Canadians were forced to go fight the enemy head-on which the chances of them succeeding were close to none, like in The First Battle of Ypres, on April 22, 1915. From this single battle, 6000 Canadian soldiers died. Another awful encounter for Canada was located in Belgium, across the French border, where the battle of Passchendaele took place. When Britain did not succeed to take over Passchendaele, she ordered Canada to fight for it.
A Canadian general, Arthur Currie knew that it would be complicated to overtake Passchendaele and tried to protest against it, but could not persuade anyone since Canada was under Britain’s control. The Canadian troops attacked on October 26, 1917, and by November 10, after a long battle, they finally were victorious. However, about 15, 700 men were lost. Canadians were again forced to face the enemy first during Canada’s 100 days. Even though the Canadian troops were significantly outnumbered by the Germans, they were still sent out to fight against them from August 8 to November 11, 1918. From this battle, over 178,000 were injured, and over 66,000 soldier’s lives were sacrificed out of the 620,000 Canadian troops that were sent out to fight. Many valuable Canadian lives were crushed from this outrageous war.
Relations between the French and English in Canada were always overwrought, long before the war started. The relationship, however, deteriorated even more because of the World War I. Canada’s Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, guaranteed Britain that Canada would send troops to aid them in the war. By 1917, many Canadians had died in dreadful battles, which decreased the number of volunteers to support the war. First, Borden rigged the elections of 1917 so that he would still be in office. After that he wanted to pass conscription to send more troops in and did this by passing the Military Voters Act of 1917. This act allowed all soldiers to vote.
Then he passed the War Time Elections Act of 1917, which gave the vote to female relatives of soldiers who were fighting in the war. Both these acts disallowed people who were against the war to vote. Soon after making these laws, to make conscription legal, Borden passed the Military Service Act on August 29, 1917. The result of the making of these laws, riots soon occurred in Quebec. Four protestors were killed by Home Guard Soldiers during the riots. This distressing factor remained in the minds of Francophones causing them to see the English Canadians as their foe. The French were so angry about the conscriptions, that they decided not support the Conservative party for next four decades.
Besides causing the relations in Canada to fall apart, World War One also resulted in making Canada’s history look immoral because of the internment of innocent European residents. On October of 1914, Sir Robert Borden enforced the War Measures Act which gave the government full power to use propaganda and seclusion. The government employed this authority to extend propaganda about Europeans in Canada, and using this as an excuse to imprison them. During the time period of 1914 to 1920, the government put away Europeans in 26 interment camps from all over Canada. 5,000 of these internees were Ukrainians, which was strange because Ukraine did not even take part in the war. These camps also included Germans, and Austrians living in Canada. They were strained to work in inhumane conditions.
Those who refused to work were abused, penalized cruelly and sometimes were underprivileged of food. Men had to work in poor conditions inside the coal mines for ten-hour shifts in which one in eighty men died because of these circumstances. Even after two years of the war, many of these internees were still prisoners in the camps. The government of Canada used propaganda to persuade Canadians citizens to hate the Europeans, which was their way of justification for their brutal actions. World War I caused Borden and his government to overreact; making them take harsh actions which led them to the heartless conducts of innocent civilians, which they thought would help the war effort. All that this treatment accomplished, however, was to hurt Canada’s own reputation.
Although World War One ended in 1918, the after effects from it still oppressed Canada. According to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was in great debt to Britain and France when the war finally came to an end. At that time, Germany was not able to pay off its debts, so the United States loaned money to Germany. During the war, the United States also lent money to Britain and France. Britain and France used the money that Germany gave them to pay back the United States. Then in 1929, the New York Stock Exchange crashed. This caused a big problem because then the U.S. demanded the other countries to pay off their debts. This impacted all the countries causing them all to go into debt. The immense depression that concluded forced all imports and exports to slow down. By 1931, the universal depression harmed Canada’s economy severely. This was because Canada was an exporting country and the other countries were not buying from it, which caused its economy to suffer.
The losses that Canada under went because of World War I, should be a warning of the demoralizing effects that a war can have on a nation. Many valuable lives were lost in brutal battles like in Ypres and Passchendaele. The already shaky bonds between the French and English augmented. Canada also suffered an immoral factor in its history with the internment and cruelty of Ukrainians. Even the after-effects were tremendously harmful to Canada and many other countries that were involved with the war. Altogether, the benefits of a war can never prevail over the losses.
Courtney from Study Moose
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