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Canada and the War
Workers assembling military truck at the plant of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Windsor, Ont., November 1940. Photo Credit: NFB NEG WRM-359, CWM Reference Photo Collection
Workers assembling military truck at the plant of Ford Motor Company of Canada, Windsor, Ont., November 1940.
Photo : National Film Board

The War Economy and Controls: Munitions

The federal government established the Department of Munitions and Supply in April 1940 to control the production of munitions for Canada and its allies. C.D. Howe was its political head; he led and others, inspired, followed. He and his department not only equipped Canada's armed forces but also got orders from outside the country, chiefly from Britain, controlled the raw materials needed to make munitions, and even created out of nothing whole new industries to manufacture them.

By 1945 Canada's war production was fourth among the Allied nations, less only than that of the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. Only some 30% of this was needed for Canada's armed forces: the remainder went overseas (see aircraft production and shipping and shipbuilding). Another of the most important was the mass production of 815,729 military vehicles, including 45,710 armoured vehicles. Canadian-made vehicles were crucial in equipping the British Eighth Army in North Africa and Italy. Canada also produced rifles, submachine guns, light machine guns, antitank guns and antiaircraft guns, as well as the multipurpose 25-pounder artillery piece.

The term "munitions" no longer meant just the weapons and equipment used by troops. It now often was used to include a whole range of manufactured goods used in making war.

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