Canada and the First World War

FRANÇAIS

History

01 Going to War

Origins and Early Phases

Origins and Early Phases

Europe's Great Powers had been preparing for war for years. When the First World War began in August 1914, it quickly grew from a regional conflict to an almost global one. Learn about the opponents, the causes, and the early stages of fighting.

Canada Enters the War

Canada Enters the War

When Britain entered the war, Canada was automatically at war too. At the start, most Canadians were enthusiastic about entering the conflict. Learn about Canada's ties to Britain, the war fever that swept the country, and the first Canadians to go overseas.

02 Battles and Fighting

Land Battles

Land Battles

Canada's greatest contribution to the Allied war effort was its land forces, which fought on the Western Front from 1915 to 1918. Learn more about Canada's First World War battles.

Weapons on Land

Weapons on Land

The First World War was primarily a land war. Huge armies employed modern, mass-produced weapons and ammunition in battles that lasted weeks or months, and killed or wounded hundreds of thousands. Learn about the old and new weapons of land warfare.

Tactics and Logistics on Land

Tactics and Logistics on Land

Armies and soldiers continually studied the problems of the war. Learn about military tactics and the task of supplying massive armies.

Air War

Air War

The First World War saw the first large-scale use of aircraft in warfare, and the development of vast aerial armadas by all major combatants. Learn about the war in the air: gathering intelligence, working with ground forces, and conducting tactical and strategic bombing.

Sea War

Sea War

Canada had a small and insignificant navy before the war, but this expanded during the conflict. Learn about the early days of the Canadian navy and the growing threat of Germany's navy.

03 Life at the Front

Trench Conditions

Trench Conditions

The trenches crisscrossing the Western Front were held by tens of thousands of troops. Learn about this dirty, dangerous environment, and its effects on the soldiers.

Trench Culture

Trench Culture

Soldiers during the war developed their own sub-culture and drew upon their pre-war memories and their wartime environments to forge unique forms of expression and in-group communication. Learn how soldiers used language and humour to cope with trench life and made sense of their war experiences.

Medicine

Medicine

The small Canadian Army Medical Corps grew exponentially during the war, employing many of Canada's medical professionals in war work. Its personnel learned procedures and techniques in response to the unprecedented range and volume of injuries brought to their care.

Behind the Front Lines

Behind the Front Lines

Soldiers were rotated through the trench system, moving from front to rear to reserve, and then back again.  Learn about how soldiers rested, engaged in leisure activities, and interacted with local civilians behind the lines.

Military Structure

Military Structure

Canada's overseas forces were known as the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Its primary fighting formation in Europe was the Canadian Corps, a four-division land army that served with the British. Learn about the evolution of the overseas forces during the war.

04 Life at Home During the War

Recruitment and Conscription

Recruitment and Conscription

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians enlisted in the first three years of the war but, in 1916, voluntary recruitment began to decline. Learn about the enactment of conscription in 1917 and its consequences.

The War Economy

The War Economy

Canada contributed an enormous quantity of money, food and munitions to the allied war effort.  Learn about how Canada transformed its economy during the war.

The Home Front

The Home Front

The role of the Canadian government in the day-to-day lives of Canadians increased markedly during the war. Learn about how the war changed the role of government, and affected many aspects of daily life.

Voices for Peace

Voices for Peace

Not all Canadians supported the war. Some objected to participating on grounds of religious faith, while others simply opposed the particular nature of the First World War. Many sought peace through negotiation, or believed that Canadian should not have fought so strenuously for Britain.

"Enemy aliens"

"Enemy aliens"

The war encouraged national sentiment and overt displays of patriotism, but it also aggravated ethnic tensions and prejudices and led to the prosecution of many so-called "enemy aliens." Lean about the war's harmful effects on some Canadian communities.

Wartime Tragedies

Wartime Tragedies

The Halifax Explosion and influenza epidemic placed additional strain and grief on the country. Learn more about these wartime tragedies.

05 People

In Uniform

In Uniform

Over 600,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served at home and overseas during the First World War. Learn about their roles as aircrew, nurses, and soldiers.

Canadian Leaders

Canadian Leaders

Canadian politicians shaped the policy and the country during the First World War. Learn about the leaders, influential politicians and commentators who championed and challenged the government.

Generals

Generals

The Canadian land war effort overseas was guided by British and Canadian commanders. Learn about key military leaders.

06 After the War

Veterans

Veterans

By 1919, most Canadian veterans had returned from overseas. Learn about their journey home, how they adapted to life back in Canada, and how their war experiences led to the creation of new veteran organizations.

Legacy

Legacy

The First World War was one of the most far-reaching and traumatic events in Canadian history. Learn about the casualty figures, Canada's greater autonomy, political and societal changes, and how the strain of war nearly shattered the country.

History

History

Historical documents relating to the First World War come in various forms, from war trophies to official records, from soldiers' accounts to historical works.

Remembrance

Remembrance

The First World War continues to be remembered by Canadians through national symbols and ceremonies, local memorials, and private rituals and poems.