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Canada 1900-1945

Canada 1900-1945

Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 427
  • Book Info
    Canada 1900-1945
    Book Description:

    As in their earlier work, the highly acclaimed Canada since 1945, the authors focus on the political context of events.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2116-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Canadians in their Setting
    (pp. 1-24)

    When the new century dawned, there was so much that was Canada but so few who were Canadians. The land spread broadly across the North American continent, reaching far beyond the relatively narrow strip along the lakes, the St Lawrence, and the Atlantic coast which had constituted Canada at Confederation. Canadians, however, were sparsely placed upon this enormous land: only 5.4 million of them occupied over three million square miles. Their style of life was very different from that in 1867. The country remained rural, but much less so than before. As a result, Canadians in 1900 were less like...

  5. 2 A Nation and its Parts
    (pp. 25-36)

    Canada’s constitution was already thirty-six years old in 1900. The basic arrangements had been worked out by colonial politicians at the Charlotte-town Conference and the Quebec Conference in 1864, and in 1867 the Imperial Parliament at Westminster placed its imprimatur on them. Behind the formal constitutional planks which were spelled out in the British North America Act were various pre-existing and continuing understandings about the relations among the various components of the governmental apparatus, both in Canada and in the United Kingdom. There was also a subsequent accumulation of precedent and understanding, partly the work of the British and Canadian...

  6. 3 Politics and Political Culture
    (pp. 37-54)

    Sir Wilfrid Laurier dominated the political landscape in the first decade of the new century. When he first became Canada’s prime minister in 1896 he was still a stranger to most of the country. At first glance the fifty-five-year-old French Canadian seemed too frail to endure the harsh climate of Canadian politics. In 1891 he had flirted too intensely with the Americans; in the following years he seemed helpless before the religious and cultural passions which beset Canadian politics. By 1896 he had gained some mastery over his party; nevertheless, his victory appeared more a Tory defeat than the victory...

  7. 4 The Great Boom of 1900-13
    (pp. 55-84)

    From the turn of the century until the outbreak of the First World War, Canada experienced the greatest economic boom in its history. The development was not unprecedented; there had been booms before, and we know that the years from Confederation to the early 1890s had seen a quite impressive development of industry in central Canada. But the Great Boom of 1900-13 captured the imagination of contemporaries in not only Canada but also Britain and the United States. It has continued to fascinate historians.

    During these years the fields and mountains of the Canadian west became as populated as they...

  8. 5 Drink, Labour, Public Ownership, and Corruption, 1900-14
    (pp. 85-106)

    In the city, the Mausoleum Club stood on the quietest corner of the best residential street. Its imposing stone structure on Plutoria Avenue was surrounded by great elm trees on whose branches perched and sang ‘the most expensive kind of birds.’ But ‘just below Plutoria Avenue and parallel with it, the trees [died] out and the brick and stone of the City [began] in earnest, Even from the Avenue you [could] see the tops of the sky-scraping buildings … and [could] hear or almost hear the roar of the elevated railway, earning dividends. And beyond that again the city [sank]...

  9. 6 Canada, the World, and the Empire
    (pp. 107-118)

    If the world of pre-1914 reform seems distant to modern readers, Canada’s position in the world must seem equally unusual. Canada in prewar days had no diplomats. To be Canadian was to be a British subject, whether English, Irish, French, or German in origin. Canada’s Britishness was of fundamental importance in understanding the political, economic, and even social history of the period.

    Victoria Regina, ‘VR,’ reigned over Canada and sundry other parts of the globe from 1837 to 1901. Her birth made such an impression that it became an annual holiday in Canada, and in English Canada at least is...

  10. 7 The Politics of War
    (pp. 119-138)

    Robert Borden had much to care about during his late July vacation at Port Carling on Lake Muskoka, but European turmoil bothered him little. The parliamentary session had been long, and he had heard rumours of war many times before. He knew on 28 July 1914, the day Austria sent a declaration of war to Serbia, that it would be almost impossible for Canada to stay out of a general European war, but this did not keep him from the golf course on that day, or the next, or the day following. On Friday, 1 August, the situation finally seemed...

  11. 8 Canada’s Army
    (pp. 139-152)

    The outbreak of war on 4 August 1914 caught Canadians unprepared. The unfolding of the map of Europe, the mobilization of armies, even the first movements of troops seemed immensely distant. In the east and west, army reservists from various countries packed their bags and prepared to entrain for Europe. This was reported as a natural curiosity in the press. ‘Expected that two thousand Ruthenians will leave this city for the Seat of War,’ the Moose JawEvening Timesheadlined on 30 July. On 31 July the ReginaLeaderpublished a list of Austrian reservists who had responded to the...

  12. 9 The War at Home
    (pp. 153-168)

    War never leaves a nation as it found it. The two world wars of this century have refashioned the globe, shattered old visions, given birth to new universalist dreams, ended abruptly tens of millions of lives, and ensured that many others would not live as their forefathers did. The most brutal and lasting effects of the First World War were felt in central and eastern Europe where probably eleven million died and where the patterns of centuries were permanently broken. Even where fewer died, the mark was deep. In Britain, where civilian casualties were almost unknown, daily life changed greatly....

  13. 10 Slump and Boom and Slump Again, 1913-22
    (pp. 169-186)

    The years 1913-22 saw a dramatic economic upheaval, only partly because of the strain which the war placed on the economy. Indeed, compared with what happened in the 1939-45 war, that strain was relatively slight: at the peak of its First World War effort the dominion government consumed roughly 10 per cent of national output, as against 50 per cent in the Second, although in relation to the nation’s population both army and casualties were far larger in the 1914-18 war. In human terms the First World War was an immense effort for the young dominion; economically, the government’s effortg...

  14. 11 Literacy, Literature, and Education
    (pp. 187-198)

    Economic change had a great impact on all aspects of Canadian life. The relationship between economic change and political, intellectual, and social change is difficult to trace. What is clear, however, is the influence of Canadian industrialization and urbanization upon the way Canadians educated themselves and, indeed, thought about themselves. The transformation can best be seen if we look at what the earlier situation had been.

    In 1893 John Bourinot addressed the Royal Society of Canada, which had been founded to honour and promote Canadian intellectual advance. His earnest tone and traditional attitudes no doubt reflected the view of most...

  15. 12 The Politics of the 1920s
    (pp. 199-210)

    For many, 1919 is the beginning of our times, a year that contains many familiar scenes for modern Canadians. John Alcock and Arthur Brown made the first transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Galway. Ernest Rutherford, once a McGill physicist, achieved the first artificial transmutation of an element, an important step towards splitting the atom. In Paris at the Peace Conference, there were buoyant hopes for a new world order based upon liberal democracy. Yet the world was to lurch into the international uncertainty and conflict that has marked it since that time. That uncertainty was assured by Lenin’s success in...

  16. 13 The Economy in the 1920s
    (pp. 211-228)

    In the shorthand with which the popular mind replaces thought and evidence, the 1920s are usually called ‘roaring.’ In Canada, ‘roaring’ does not seem very apposite, at least with respect to the economy. By 1921 the heroic days of Canadian economic development seemed to be over. The west was settled, more or less. The railways were built – all too many of them. In central Canada the economic balance had already shifted decisively from countryside to town, and from agriculture to industry; the nation’s cities and towns now possessed a wide range of sophisticated industries, serving house-holds, other domestic manufacturers,...

  17. 14 Defining Canada and her New Empire, 1917-31
    (pp. 229-244)

    Prior to 1914, few Canadians had much doubt as to their country’s constitutional status. It was a colony, a senior colony to be sure, of the British empire. This fact satisfied some, and perturbed others, but the vast majority of Canadians gave the question only occasional thought, perhaps around election day or on festive public holidays when abundant patriotic spirits bubbled over into song and sermon. Many Canadians would have agreed that a colony like Canada had ‘no concern with the outside world,’ as a Canadian civil servant was to write in 1917, and certainly ‘no responsibility.’ But few would...

  18. 15 The Social and Economic Impact of the Depression
    (pp. 245-258)

    The Great Depression, Canadians are apt to believe, started with the crash of the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929, and ended with the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. In between were what the popular historian Barry Broadfoot has titled ‘Ten Lost Years,’ a decade of desperation, anger, and broken dreams.

    For many Canadians the picture is accurate enough. The urban unemployed, the rural poor, the farmers driven by drought and dust from an unforgiving land, not to mention the unpaid schoolteachers, harassed social workers, as well as the embittered victims of business failure, all...

  19. 16 Politics and Policy in the Great Depression
    (pp. 259-278)

    The 1930s were a decade of political change almost everywhere. In Britain, France, Germany, the United States – almost everywhere elections were held – the decade ended with a different leader from which it had begun. The Americans started out with Herbert Hoover, and finished with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The Germans, who began the 1930s with a socialist government, finished with a national socialist one – and Adolf Hitler. Canada started 1930 with Mackenzie King, and ended 1939 with Mackenzie King. In between, no fundamental reforms disturbed the functioning of Canada’s constitution. The country finished the decade with the same...

  20. 17 The Making of Modern Times: Culture and Communications, 1919-39
    (pp. 279-294)

    Between 1976 and 1981 a group of American sociologists returned to study change and continuity in Muncie, Indiana, where Robert and Helen Lynd had carried out their pioneering sociological work in 1924 and 1925. The Lynds’Middletownwas pre-eminently a study of change, for life in this small midwestern industrialized city exhibited either change or stress arising from failure to change at almost every point. A former resident returning to Middletown in 1925 after an absence of thirty years would not have recognized very much in the town, either its physical appearance or the way in which its residents approached...

  21. 18 The Dominion and the Dictators
    (pp. 295-316)

    At the beginning of the 1930s Canadians were hard put to discern any signs of trouble on the international scene. Everywhere, or almost everywhere, civilian, peace-minded governments were going about their normal business, and this did not include preparations for war or aggression. War was an expensive, unpleasant affair, and memories of the last war were too fresh to contemplate a new conflict. In Geneva the League of Nations was entering its second decade. In Europe the legacies of the Great War were gradually being dismantled, as the British and French prepared to withdraw their army of occupation from western...

  22. 19 The Politics of War, 1939-45
    (pp. 317-336)

    A sensible Canadian, looking at the country’s future in September 1939, might have been forgiven a considerable measure of apprehension. Canada had not come well through the 1930s. The decade had been characterized by federal-provincial feuding and it seemed to make little difference whether a Conservative or a Liberal prime minister was in power in Ottawa. Unemployment continued high, though not as high as in the early thirties. Certainly, no one could say that the federal government had evolved a clear or consistent strategy for dealing with the phenomenon. After two decades of pretending that Canada had no foreign policy,...

  23. 20 Fighting the War
    (pp. 337-348)

    The population of Canada when war broke out in Europe in 1939 was estimated to be 11,267,000; by 1945 it would be 12,072,000. Of these totals, some 1,100,000 persons, men and women, served in Canada’s armed forces during the war. Not all served at the same time, of course; at its peak the Canadian army totalled 495,804, including 15,845 women. The Royal Canadian Navy, at its peak, held some 92,000; while the Royal Canadian Air Force expanded to a maximum, at the end of 1943, of 206,350 personnel.

    It was a formidable effort, and one which the politicians who took...

  24. 21 The War Economy, 1939-45
    (pp. 349-374)

    For Canada’s governors, administrators, industrialists, and farmers, the Second World War posed unparalleled problems both of production and organization. To some extent lessons could be learned from what was done – and undone – in 1914-18. But the demands on the system in 1939-45 were to prove far greater, and the military system - the Grand Alliance, or the United Nations - was somewhat more complex and demanding, If 1914 found the dominion economy sliding into a slump, 1939 found that economy – now much larger and more fully developed – still unrecovered from a Great Depression that had already...

  25. 22 The Second World War at Home
    (pp. 375-388)

    By 1945 most Canadian families had sent one or more members into the armed forces, and a high proportion of these citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, and women had served outside Canada. Defence installations, furthermore, were widely spread across the country, not only for Canada’s own forces but for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The military life, therefore, was brought very close to most Canadians – probably closer than in the First World War. In addition, and far more successfully than in that earlier war, Ottawa was managing the flow of goods, services, and information, while regulating the work lives....

  26. 23 Planning for Reconstruction
    (pp. 389-398)

    In the middle of February 1944 Mackenzie King, suffering from insomnia, prowled into his library looking for something to read. Secreted among the worthy Victorian biographies that he favoured there nestled a work of recent history, George Dangerfield’sStrange Death of Liberal England, published some eight years before. Dangerfield’s subject was the eclipse and near-demise of the great British Liberal party, so confident, dominant, and secure in the decade before the Great War. King took the book to bed with him and read a chapter before he nodded off. Dangerfield’s book, he told his diary the next day, ‘interests me...

  27. Appendix 1
    (pp. 399-400)
  28. Bibliography
    (pp. 401-410)
  29. Index
    (pp. 411-427)