Assess the Role of Canada in the First World War.

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"Assess the role of Canada in the First World War."

When people look back and remember the First World War, they often remember the assassination of Franz-Ferdinand, the sinking of the Lusitania, or the Zimmerman telegram. Not often do they recall the role that Canada played in the war. However, Canadians were a significant factor of the Allies’ success. Although Canada only possessed two Navy warships at the time and was known for being a peaceful country, she supplied over 60,000,000 shells to the Allies’ troops and endured over 67,000 casualties and 173,000 men wounded across multiple battles. With that said, it could also be argued that internal political conflicts in Canada afflicted their overall contribution to the war. In fact, many French-Canadians (specifically in Quebec) were reluctant and even opposed to aiding Britain in the war. This fact is understandable because Canada committed to a total war effort, even when it was not exactly their war to fight. When the British Empire joined World War I in 1914, all Dominions of the Empire were brought into the conflict, including Canada. Canada was not given prior knowledge, it was automatic, and without their consent. Even though Canada may have not met her full potential as an aid to the war because of her political disputes, she managed to fight a good fight in the end. The main importance of that country’s role in World War One was that it gave them their identity as Canadians, dissolving the idea of being British subjects and not their own nation.

The Canadian 1st Division fought its first major engagement during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium (April 15, 1915). It was here the Germans introduced poison gas. Following an intensive artillery bombardment, they released 160 tons of chlorine gas from cylinders dug into the forward edge of their trenches- the first use of poison gas in the war. As thick clouds of yellow-green chlorine drifted over their trenches, the French colonial defences and...
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