Skip to main content


Canada at War (2)

Moreover, the war fundamentally changed Canadian society. In addition to worsening linguistic and cultural divisions, numerous contradictions were revealed. While women joined the workforce and gained the right to vote, recent immigrants from enemy states lost their jobs and had their vote taken away. Social welfare programs were adopted to improve the lives of ordinary Canadians, but little was done to prevent war profiteering or the growing inequities between rich and poor. Organized labour and farmers contributed substantially to the war effort, but felt cheated by high inflation, massive debt, and a host of broken promises. Strikes plagued the country and intensified class and regional divisions, ultimately leading to the development of new political parties. Soldiers returned to a country that in many respects had changed radically, and some found the transition to peacetime difficult. But there was progress too. Industrial production boomed as Canadians fed, clothed, and armed the Empire. Canada gained greater autonomy internationally, and started redefining its constitutional relationship with Britain. It signed the Treaty of Versailles, joined the new League of Nations, and furthered its economic ties with the United States. Despite the divisions at home, Canada emerged from war more of a nation: proud of its accomplishments and sacrifices in bringing about peace.

Dr. Arne Kislenko, Department of History, Ryerson University