World War I: Canada's Role

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Many people believe that World War I was a historical achievement for Canada. That it helped Canada become a mature and grow into a nation. Canadians can't seem to realize the fact that Canada's involvement in the war was for nothing. The "coming of age" of Canada did not only have high economical costs, but it also created a large, lasting gap between French and English Canada. The lives that were lost during the war, however, were the highest price Canada had to pay. "The war was the unmaking of Canada as much as it was the making."

It seems quite strange that a nation would get its sense of nationalism from fighting someone else's war, across the ocean. After the war with over 60000 soldiers dead and 172000 wounded, the country could not admit that the war had been worthless. Propaganda at the time was entirely focused on convincing the citizens that the war had been beneficial for Canada. In some ways it had been beneficial. Before the war, the unemployment rate was soaring. The war provided a lot of unemployed people with jobs, therefore, substantially boosting the economy. Women finally got the right to vote in 1917 because of the war. Also with the national feeling the war created, many artists such as the Group of Seven emerged. Nevertheless, The war did more harm than good for Canada. To this day most historians have not accepted the fact that Canada's involvement in the war was a mistake. Canadian historians always seem to write about the benefits of the war for Canada and never about the detriments of it. Donald Creighton, one of the most famous Canadian historians of his time wrote in his book, Canada's First Century: "The War of 1914-18 was the greatest experience that the Canadian people had ever known, or would ever know." There are some like the British historian, Niall Ferguson, who in his book The Pity of War, suggests that Britain's decision to fight in 1914 was "nothing less than the greatest error of modern history." If the British can...
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