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Our Glory and Our Grief

Our Glory and Our Grief: Torontonians and the Great War

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Our Glory and Our Grief
    Book Description:

    Our Glory and Our Grief offers a fresh look at the First World War's effect on Canada's second largest city. What happened in Toronto? What did citizens know about the front? How were the enormous sacrifices of the war rationalized?

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7817-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    Armistice Day, 11 November 1919. At precisely 11:00 in the morning, Toronto stood still. Sirens shrieked. Bells rang out. Factory whistles wailed. Two minutes to remember. Everything stopped. Two minutes to remember sacrifice. To imagine his last smile before he boarded the train. To read the letters he sent from the front – until the telegram arrived that promised no further correspondence. To caress the personal belongings of dead heroes: a pen, a razor, a cherished picture. Sacred. At the corner of Yonge and Adelaide Streets, pedestrians and cyclists came to a halt; cars and trollies stopped their rumbling. The...

  6. 1 A Great Adventure: Toronto Goes to War
    (pp. 15-33)

    News of the German invasion of France and the violation of Belgium’s neutrality reached Canada on 2 August 1914. In Toronto, the editors of all six of the city’s newspapers prepared editorials that reflected the broad consensus on the role that the British Empire should play in the crisis. Reaction in Toronto was similar to responses in other Imperial cities like Birmingham, Sydney, Glasgow, or Vancouver. Germany, which had repeatedly threatened the peace of Europe and challenged British naval power, was now waging war on France and ignoring the rights of the Belgian state. Britain would undoubtedly intervene and would...

  7. 2 A Great Crusade: Keeping Faith with Those Who Died
    (pp. 34-66)

    Public opinion – or at least public opinion leaders – in Toronto were virtually unanimous in their support for an active Canadian role in the war, but what kind of war did they envisage? Most expected it to be over quickly, perhaps before Christmas. They had been taught to believe that European wars involved great and decisive battles on land and at sea. They were confident that the British and French armies, in combination with the ‘brave Belgians’ and the ‘Russian steamroller,’ would bring the war to a speedy and victorious conclusion. The triumph of the Royal Navy was considered...

  8. 3 Enlistment and Recruiting: Sending Citizens to War
    (pp. 67-105)

    Enlistment and recruiting were local phenomena; the national experience was of little concern to Toronto recruiting officers. They believed in voluntarism and worked to ensure that local men recognized their duty and went willingly to the front. The way that officers approached recruiting, however, changed over time.

    Any examination of enlistment must begin with an assessment of the number of potential recruits available. The population of Toronto in the 1911 Census was 376,538,¹ while the 1921 Census records 521,893² residents. In the 1921 Census, the number of men between 19 and 40 was 100,853, or 19.3 per cent of the...

  9. 4 Women and War: Public and Private Spheres
    (pp. 106-134)

    In August 1914, women’s first patriotic duty was to allow husbands, lovers, or sons to enlist. Consenting to let loved ones serve the Empire was viewed as the epitome of selflessness and women were praised for their patriotism when they did so. While women demonstrated their enthusiastic support of the war in this way, many also wanted to play a more active role in the war effort outside of the home. Nursing was one avenue which provided a chance to go overseas, but the competition for places was intense. Nationally, in August 1914 the Red Cross had positions for one...

  10. 5 Conscription: A Decided Commitment
    (pp. 135-160)

    As the federal election polls closed on the evening of 17 December 1917, thousands of people began to gather around Toronto newspaper offices to wait together for both the local and the national results. Despite the cool temperatures, the crowd was good humoured, confident that the voters of English-speaking Canada would endorse the cause of conscription by electing Unionist members. Toronto, as we shall see, voted overwhelmingly for candidates pledged to support the Military Service Act. Despite three long years of ever more costly war, Torontonians were virtually unanimous in their support for conscription.

    When Prime Minister Robert Borden announced...

  11. 6 Total War: Total Victory
    (pp. 161-192)

    When the federal election votes were counted in December 1917, no one could doubt the strength of Toronto’s commitment to a total war effort. Its unanimity of purpose, however, was not based on any belief that the end of the war was in sight. The German-Russian armistice of 3 December 1917 meant that the enemy would soon be able to transfer additional divisions to the west, while the build-up of American forces in France was going much slower than expected. The war might last two or three more years and Torontonians would have to see their great crusade through to...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-200)

    The conflict that began on 4 August 1914 would eventually change the way Torontonians viewed war. However, they entered into it on the basis of lessons learned from the pre-war years. They expected the struggle to be short and victorious. This assumption determined their behaviour at the start of what was then considered ‘a great adventure.’ Citizens gathered around newspaper offices by the thousand to read the latest headlines posted in the windows. Newsboys did a brisk trade in Extras. Impromptu parades worked their way through the streets. Young men flocked to the Recruiting Depot. The city was enthusiastic about...

  13. APPENDIX A: Ethnic Composition of Toronto, 1911–1921
    (pp. 201-201)
  14. APPENDIX B: Religious Composition of Toronto, 1911–1921
    (pp. 202-202)
  15. APPENDIX C: Battalions Raised in Toronto
    (pp. 203-204)
  16. Note on Sources
    (pp. 205-208)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 209-238)
  18. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 239-256)
  19. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 257-258)
  20. Index
    (pp. 259-267)