Explore BrainMass

WWI and Canadian Society

I could really use some help with these last 3 questions. These need to be fairly in-depth answers and are worth about 33% each. Thanks!
#1. Outline the various ways in which WW1 changed Canadian society.
#2. Outline the causes of the Great Depression in Canada, and examine its effects on Canadians in various regions and social classes.
#3. What conflicts developed within Canadian society between 1945 and 1975 along the lines of ethnicity and race, gender, sexual orientation, wealth distribution, religion, and education? What social changes resulted from these conflicts.

Just incase you have access... the textbook we used is called History of the Canadian People (4th edition).


Solution Preview

1. World War I was very influential in the shaping of Canada as a nation. Canada earned recognition, respect and admiration from the rest of the world through their successful and dedicated participation in WWI. Canadians successfully participated in a war that introduced the horrors of modern warfare to the world. Technology developed at a rapid pace during WWI because of the increasing demands of modern warfare.

Although many Canadian lives were lost during the war, Canada grew stronger as a nation, and moved closer to becoming an independent nation. A distinctive and lasting Canadian identity was forged on the battlefields of Europe during WWI. Canadian women also made tremendous strides during the war, some voting for the first time, several serving as nurses and volunteers at the front, and many others becoming well established in the Canadian labor force.

World War I brought many issues of racism to the forefront in Canada. The unjust internment of many "enemy aliens" or immigrants from "enemy" countries in Canada during WWI will be remembered as one of the most embarrassing aspects of Canadian history. The immigrant population of Canada today, including those who came from war torn Europe after 1918, has become a major part of the Canadian identity.

Those living in Canada during the First World War could not escape the sudden pressure to 'do one's bit' and help assure an Allied victory, nor the enthusiasm for the war that swept the country. As one woman said, "Everybody wanted to be there; you were in the swim of things; everything was war, war ,war".

Through taxation, conscription, volunteering, war bonds, munitions work and so much more, the war effort involved everybody on the home front. This brought about many changes in Canadian society.

One major change was the increased use of propaganda to influence public opinion. Caroline Playne describes how "The war of 1914-1918 was very popular, but even the most popular war has to be stimulated by vigorous public propaganda". Governments gradually realized that efficiency at the front was dependent on efficiency and morale at home and this led to the birth of the propaganda machine, intended to direct the civilian response to war. Since this war was to involve non-combatants as never before, Canada, like England, distributed official propaganda in the form of posters and pamphlets, urging civilians to do their part for the war. Unlike in any previous conflict in which Canada had been involved, the First World War brought to bear the powerful influence of propaganda, bringing about a change in the relationship between government and governed.

A second important change that came about was in attitudes towards religion. For many, the trials of war resulted in strengthened faith and renewed reliance on the church. Richard Schweitzer has even speculated that World War I may have brought about a revival of religious faith. During the war, people turned to the traditional comforts of religion, looking to God for answers to the unanswerable in the midst of such inexplicable hardship. There was also a sense of moral righteousness in fighting evil that borrowed very heavily from religion. It was rumored that the Germans had rejected Christianity for old pagan gods, that Germany had sold itself to the Devil, even that Kaiser Wilhelm was the Antichrist. All of this helped people to accept that the war the necessary. However, there were some people, particularly in Canada, who observed a noticeable decline in traditional religious life. One man observed during the conflict that the war had led to the end of church life.

While there were many people who continued to put faith in God, and this song collection reflects that continued reliance on religion, clearly the horrors of war shook some people's faith and made them question what they had previously accepted.

As a final example, the First World War also had important consequences for the way in which women were viewed by society. With the absence of so many men, women were forced to take on many of the roles that had traditionally been filled by men. Indeed, many women felt an obligation to step into these roles on account of the war. For some women, this was an opportunity to prove to a patriarchal society that women were capable of doing 'men's work' and thus advance the cause of women's suffrage. To a certain extent, Canadian society was ready to accept this new role for women from the standpoint of sheer necessity; according to one government official it was acceptable not only because it freed men for the front lines but also "resulted in a considerable saving by the Canadian Government". In spite of the necessity for women to step into traditionally male roles during the war, however, in most cases women were expected to give up these roles to the men who returned when the war was over. Women's suffrage was achieved during the war, but to a limited extent, since the vote was strategically granted only to those women serving overseas or related to a soldier, when Prime Minister Robert Borden sought re-election on a conscription platform. Ultimately, the war did not effect major changes on the place of women in Canadian society. Rather, for most women, their connection to the war was through the men in their lives, through a brother, son, husband or sweetheart serving in the army. However, the war did create the circumstances in which women could tentatively try out non-traditional roles in the absence of these men and laid some of the groundwork for future social change.

2. Over Production and Expansion - Canada's companies expanded their industries so they could handle more, but unfortunately didn't get the significant demand for goods and services and were forced to fire workers and diminish costs.

Dependence on Few Primary Products - Canada's decrease in natural resources created a significant drop in sales causing an economical depression.

Dependence on the United States - Due to the dependency Canada had on the U.S., when an economic depression hit the States, Canada was thrust into one as well.

High Tariffs - Canada's efforts to get out of a recession by raising export tariffs only backfired due to competition from other countries and Canada's lack of variety in its exports.

Too Much Credit - Canadians bought too much on lease and credit including stocks. Therefore when the stock market crashed (partly due to the credit buying), Canadians were in debt and faced an amazing time selling their personal belongings and having their half paid-off possessions repossessed.

Many Canadians of the thirties felt that the depression wasn't brought about by the Wall Street Stock Market Crash, but by the enormous 1928 wheat crop crash. Due to this, many people were out of work and money and food began to run low. It was said by the Federal Department of Labor that a family needed between $1200 and $1500 a year to maintain the "minimum standard of decency." At that time, 60% of men and 82% of women made less than $1000 a year. The gross national product fell from $6.1 billion in 1929 to $3.5 billion in 1933 and the value of industrial production halved.

Unfortunately for the well being of Canada's economy prices continued to plummet and they even fell faster then wages until 1933, at that time, there was another wage cut, this time of 15%. For all the unemployed there was a relief program for families and all unemployed single men were sent packing by relief officers by boxcar to British Columbia. There were also work camps established for single men by Bennett's Government.

The Great Depression, also known as The Dirty Thirties, wasn't like an ordinary depression where savings vanished and city families went to the farm until it blew over. This depression effected everyone in some way and there was basically no way to escape it. J.S. Woodsworth told Parliament "If they went out today, they would meet another army of unemployed coming back from the country to the city." As the depression carried on 1 in 5 Canadians became dependent on government relief. 30% of the labor Force was unemployed, where as the unemployment rate had previously never dropped below 12%. Harshly impacted by both the global economic downturn and the Dust Bowl, Canadian industrial production had fallen to only at 58% of the 1929 level by 1932, the second lowest level in the world after the United States, and well behind nations such as Britain, which only saw it fall to 83% of the 1929 level. Total national income fell to 55% of the 1929 level, again worse than any nation other than the United States.

It was estimated back in the thirties that 33% of Canada's Gross National Income came from exports; so the country was also greatly affected by the collapse of world trade. The four western prairie provinces were almost completely dependent on the export of wheat. The little money that they brought in for their wheat did not cover production costs, let alone farm taxes, depreciation and interest on the debts that farmers were building up. The net farm income fell from $417 million in 1929 to $109 million in 1933.

Between 1933 and 1937 to make matters even worse, Saskatchewan suffered a drought. The money brought in for the wheat was at a record low and the provincial income dropped by 90% in two years, forcing 66% of the province into relief. Where the previous yield per acre was 27 bushels, it had dropped to as little as three in 1937. The price of grain also dropped from $1.60 a bushel to $0.28 a bushel in 1932. Although Ontario and Quebec were experiencing serious unemployment, as mining and forest incomes from exports had dropped though they were less effected due to more diversified industrial economics, which, luckily for them, protected they domestic market.

For BC, the fish, lumber and fruit markets were considerably lower but they weren't as hard hit as the majority of the provinces. As for the Maritimes, they had entered provincial economic decline in the 1920's so therefore they had less of a margin to fall by. There was also a larger variety of jobs so the whole income wasn't wiped out due to the fall of one market. In 1934 Newfoundland had to surrender its government responsibilities and had to ask for financial aid from Britain.

For an unemployed individual person during the depression there were no jobs and for those that had a job there was a high chance that it could be lost. Further there was little income from the majority of jobs. Tens of thousands of people were dependent on government relief, charity and food handouts for daily survival. Parents found it difficult to keep young children in school because they were needed on the farms to bring in as much goods as possible. University students were also dropping out all over the country because tuition was too much to pay. The home workers of the houses had to find part time jobs to "make ends meet."

The same ill-fortune was felt by industry business. The values of stocks were dropping rapidly and as the demand for goods and services dropped business firms ceased to exist. Even the CPR, considered on the world's most reliable income earners, didn't make enough money in 1932.

The depression of the thirties resulted in the expansion of government responsibilities for the economy and welfare of the country and its people. Born in 1932 the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission was created. In 1934, Bennett's government made the Bank of Canada to regulate the Monetary Policy. The Canadian Wheat Board was created in 1935 to market and establish the minimum price for wheat.

The depression also sparked a variety of reform movements including, Social Credit, "Work and Wages" Program, Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, Union National and W.D. Herridge. There was also the relief program that was set up for families in need and the monthly rate for a family of five varied from $60 in Calgary to $17 in Halifax.

The depression also ...

Solution Summary

How WWI changed the economics in Canada, religion and societal changes that occurred.