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Canada and WWI

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  1. Canada and WWI

  2. Canada: Pulled into War Had gained Independence in domestic issues in 1867- population 8 million Issues with a confusing foreign-policy structure by 1914 A dominion of the British Empire: British government essentially controlling Canada's foreign-policy Tied to the July crisis of 1914; when the UK declared war on August 4, 1914 Canada was automatically at war with Germany

  3. Canada: Background

  4. British Subjects • In the late 19th & early 20th century most Canadians were of recent British extraction. • They felt a strong kinship to Great Britain.

  5. British Subjects • Canada was an integral part of this world empire. • They were British subjects and proud of it.

  6. British Subjects • During the 19th century, Great Britain had the largest fleet in the world, maintaining a 2 power standard – her fleet was larger than the next two national fleets combined. • Britain was committed to “Splendid Isolation” – staying out of international commitments and only committing when Britain could force the balance of power in Britain’s interests. • British Canadians felt pride in British power

  7. British Subjects • British subjects were enormously proud of the size of the British Empire – which was between 1/6 & 1/5 of the world’s land mass and contained a similar proportion of the world’s people. • Like Americans today, the British saw themselves as tremendously powerful.

  8. Canadians • French Canadians felt no such connection to things British. • They had been isolated from Europe since before “the Conquest”, beginning in 1759.

  9. Canada First • Of course there were some English Canadians who wanted an independent Canada. • However, this “Canada First” movement was small in number and resentful of the Canadians – the only other group who supported a distinctly Canadian nationalism.

  10. Imperial Federation • At the end of the 19th century there was even a movement to strengthen ties with Britain. • In 1884 the Imperial Federation League was founded in Britain. • Proponents wanted to strengthen, not loosen, ties between Britain and its colonies.

  11. Imperial Federation • The idea was to create a single federal Imperial state, with a super-Parliament in London. • The Colonies would be mere provinces within this.

  12. A British Nation • The overwhelming bulk of Canada’s population and particularly the controlling elite, felt themselves British through and through.

  13. Imperial Entanglements

  14. Imperial Entanglements • Even as a self-governing dominion within the British Empire, there was the danger of getting caught up in conflicts with little or nothing to do with Canada. • After all, a global empire had to maintain itself. • Against rebels. • Against other imperial powers.

  15. Sudan, 1885 • In 1881 a religious leader in the Sudan, Mohammad Ahmed, declared himself the Mahdi – the messiah of Islam. • He set out to clear his country of foreign influences – including the Egyptians, who he saw as impure Moslems – and their allies, the British.

  16. Gordon of Khartoum • A British force, under the command of General Charles Gordon, was under siege at Khartoum. • Britain called on its colonies to contribute to a force to put down the radical Islamic forces.

  17. Sudan, 1885 • Sir John A. Macdonald understood that though British Canada might support sending troops, Quebec would be strongly opposed. • The conflict ended before any Canadian commitment was needed. (Though Australian forces were sent.)

  18. The Alaska Boundary DisputeBritain’s Commitment to Canada

  19. The Alaska Boundary Dispute • The Klondike gold rush of 1896 made the exact location of the border between B.C. and Alaska a pressing issue. • This boundary and the ownership of territory along the coast had been unclear since the United States’ Alaska purchase, from Russia, in 1867. • Possession of the land at the head of deep inlets would have allowed Canada access to B.C. across the Alaska panhandle.

  20. The Alaska Boundary Dispute • Canadians believed that the boundary followed the summit of the mountain ranges near the coast. • The Americans claimed a line which followed the configuration of the coast but included the heads of the inlets. • By moving troops to the region the American president, Teddy Roosevelt, forced the issue to a resolution.

  21. Lord Alverstone The Alaska Boundary Dispute • In 1903, an arbitration tribunal, comprised of three Americans, two Canadians and one British representative, was appointed to end the dispute. • Lord Alverstone the British chief justice represented Imperial interests. • Great Britain had no wish to annoy the Americans over the issue and Lord Alverstone was instructed to side with them.

  22. Territory gained by the United States as a result of the 1903 boundary settlement. The Alaska Boundary Dispute

  23. The Alaska Boundary Dispute • The decision was heavily weighted in the American favor and Canada lost all access to the Pacific across the Alaska panhandle. • What would Britain do to support Canada in future disputes with the United States? • Some worried about the implications of Britain’s decision.

  24. The “Tin Pot Navy”

  25. The “Tin Pot Navy” • In 1906, Britain launched HMS Dreadnought, a new class of warship, more powerful than anything seen before. • However, it also made existing British battleships obsolete. • When Germany began launching similar vessels, a naval arms race followed.

  26. Laurier’s “Tin-Pot” Navy • Britain’s colonies, recognizing the need to maintain naval supremacy, committed themselves to help. Australia, and New Zealand both paid for battleships to be added to the Royal Navy. • In Canada, a Naval Aid Bill was proposed by the Conservatives to send money directly to Britain – like the other colonies. Laurier’s compromise was the the Naval Service Bill of 1910 which created a small Canadian navy comprised of two ships.

  27. Laurier’s “Tin-Pot” Navy II • Laurier’s navy was intended to be placed at Britain’s disposal in time of war. • English Canadians scoffed at the prospect of Canada’s navy being of much assistance to the British. • French Canadians led by Henri Bourassa were outraged at the thought of Canada helping Britain in any Imperial conflict.

  28. HMS New Zealand – a powerful big-gunned Indefatigable Class Dreadnought. Borden’s Failure • In the election of 1911, Wilfrid Laurier lost to Borden – in no small measure due to his lukewarm support of Britain in the Naval Arms Race. • Borden proposed to build a battleship for Britain in a Canadian shipyard, and man it with Canadian sailors. • Winston Churchill pointed out that no Canadian shipyard was capable of handling the job. • Borden had the bill passed in the House of Commons, but the Senate rejected it, killing the project. • Canada’s contribution remained puny.

  29. Conclusion • Before World War I Canada was a colony of Great Britain. • It was self-governing internally, and could even make some decisions regarding policy. • Bigger military and foreign policy decisions were reserved for Britain

  30. Conclusion • Some Canadians wanted an independent Canada that need not risk involvement in Britain’s Imperial struggles. • Few were Anglophones. • Most were Quebecois Nationalistes.

  31. Conclusion • Most Canadians, particularly in British Ontario, were rabidly British. • If there was a Canadian nationalism, it was nowhere near the mainstream in English Canada – though it might be becoming so in Francophone Quebec.

  32. Military Structure 1902-1914 - Canadian military gradually drawn into a centralized command structure in terms of Imperial operations 1912 – forces integrated into imperial defense plans British command of Canadian soldiers would prove contentious and would cause problems during the war 1904 – Wilfred Laurier's (Canadian PM 1896-1911) govt. officially placed the countries militia under the command of a dominion-born officer

  33. Military Structure For WWI - created a field force from scratch 1914 – the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) was created in response to a call by the United Kingdom CEF - separate entity from the Permanent Active Militia and the Non-Permanent Active Militia

  34. Perspective Canada had been debating its place in the British Empire since the British North America Act was signed Some advocated greater independence; others argued the benefits of "dominion status" Laurier - "When Great Britain is at war, Canada is at war" Canada would ultimately commit to the total war effort

  35. Canada Mobilizes Initial commitment – 25,000 men equipped and sent to Europe at Canada's expense ($50 million) War Measures Act - gave the government the right to govern by executive decree in times of "war, invasion, or insurrection" Minister of Militia - Sam Hughes: operated free from governmental interference, method and scruples.

  36. Canada Mobilizes 30,000 men assembled for training in Quebec within a month of the war outbreak Equipping and clothing of the soldiers provided a major challenge Khaki uniforms and the Ross rifle were ordered in huge quantities

  37. The Ross Rifle Weapon decided to be used for war by Sam Hughes Issued to Canadian infantryman at the outset of the of war Good for target and sniping weapon; heavy and jammed regularly in trench warfare conditions Criticism by soldiers led to its replacement by the British Lee-Enfield rifle

  38. Canada Mobilizes Ships were contracted and preparations made – unorthodox and haphazard methods used Chaotic military departure similar to US in Cuba for the Spanish American war October 1914 – the first contingent of troops land in England A second 30,000 troops contingent ordered by Robert Borden's conservative government (PM 1911-1920)

  39. Canada The War at Home

  40. Canadian Homefront The YMCA and other associations raised money and material for the war effort Canadian Patriotic Fund - money to bridge the gap between what soldiers earned and what they had earned as civilians Schools, clubs, mutual benefit societies – raised money to buy food uniforms and even weapons

  41. Canadian Opposition Grew as the slaughter in France dragged on Pacifist religious groups (Mennonites/Doukhobors) opposed to the war Some religious groups were won over – a moral crusade

  42. Canadian Recruiting Easy throughout 1914 to 1915: nearly 60,000 enlisted by the end of 1914 June 19 15–100,000 soldiers overseas; goal-one man in reserve in England for every two at the front Goal was hard to maintain due to huge casualty figures September 19 15–2 divisions with a total strength of over 40,000 in French fighting

  43. Canadian Recruiting Hughes bragged about his ever-expanding army New recruits = new battalions = new divisions Trench warfare brutal – replacement rate of 15,000 men per year Medical and height standards lowered in order to meet demand By 1917- Recruit numbers couldn't keep up with battle losses

  44. Recruiting Issues in Quebec Had lagged behind English Canada from the beginning The Royal 22 Battalion was a French-speaking regiment but led by Brits Men from Quebec married earlier, shrinking the available pool of single men Recruiting was organized by a Protestant, thereby excluding the Catholics from the recruiting process

  45. Recruiting Issues in Quebec Anti-French education laws created an attitude that this was not a French Canadian war Growing employment opportunities and high pay lured young men away from enlistment Leading Quebec politician Henri Bourassa and his allies publicly opposed the war

  46. The Economy at Home Canada entered the war while in a depression like elsewhere Increased war production with an expanded army reduced unemployment greatly Like the United States, Canadian fields and factories were safe-could expand economy

  47. The Economy at Home - Raw Materials Initially, expansion would be traditional supplying of primary resources-Wheat production pushed to record levels Wheat commodity prices skyrocketed/value of wheat exports doubled during war Lumber industry recovered from the depression of 1913 Meat and dairy exports increased by 14,000%

  48. The Economy at Home - Munitions Not a traditional munitions producer – Canada becomes one Sam Hughes used 'Patronage' in this regard Patronage – the practice of giving political positions and economic opportunities to political allies and supporters Destined to fail early based on limited Canadian experience in the area

  49. The Economy at Home - Munitions Initial production suffered – quantity and quality Hughes' Shell Committee set up in 1914 to manage production; incapable of keeping up with purchase orders from Canada and Britain Hughes was meddling, profiteering 1915 - Imperial Munitions Board replaced Shell Committee ; situation improved almost immediately