Defining Moments in Canadian history.

Topics: Canada, Lester B. Pearson, Flag of Canada Pages: 5 (1644 words) Published: June 19, 2003
All throughout Canada in the 20th Century there have been numerous events actions and decisions that we call defining moments. Canada has been through many battles, very hard chosen decisions, and gone through many changes that have changed the way Canadians live today. Certain people have influenced the country in a positive way and made Canada a stronger nation. Events such as the battle of Vimy Ridge, the formation of NATO, the creation of the Canadian flag and people such as Lester B. Pearson all assisted in defining Canada as a nation.

Vimy Ridge ran almost 12km north-east of Arras. The Germans occupied Vimy Ridge in September 1914 and their engineers immediately began to construct a network of artillery-proof trenches and bunkers. These were protected from attack by Machine Gun Posts. Repeated French attempts to take Vimy Ridge cost about 150,000 casualties between May and November 1915. Although the French were able to take the villages of Carency, Neuville St Vaast and Souchez, Vimy Ridge remained under the control of the Germans. The British took over the Arras sector in March 1916. Immediately, British corps commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Wilson, planned a counter-attack, but it was disapproved by his commanding officer, Sir Douglas Haig. The Canadian Corps, led by Lieutenant Sir Julian Byng, replaced the British at Arras in the winter of 1916. On April 8th, 1917, 30,000 Canadian soldiers began heading toward the front line. The next morning, over 2800 allied soldiers began attacking the German trenches and soon afterwards the Canadian soldiers went into No-Mans-Land. The 1st division was led by A.W. Currie and they were well known for using an attack strategy called a creeping-barrage which was when soldiers bombard enemy defences with all available heavy artillery. Arthur Currie's division captured the Zwolfer Graben trench system within 30 minutes. The Canadians were now making good progress and by April 12th, 1917 they were in securely in control of Vimy Ridge. The strong intelligent attacking strategies by the soldier forced the Germans to the bottom of the hill and they were unable to bombard a successful counterattack. It was on that night when the Germans left the area under the cover of darkness.

The battle of Vimy Ridge was a defining moment in Canadian history because it was the first time Canada established its self as a true nation. The Canadian allies had been trying to capture Vimy Ridge for three years but were having no success. Ultimately the Canadians did it in three days. This showed other nations around the world that Canada had a strong military with intelligent combat techniques. Canadians were now seen as professional troops who could be assigned to take any military objective. The victory came at a high price with 10 602 Canadians killed and wounded. Although the victory had a small impact on the course of the war, it provided a great moral boost for French and English troops who had seen years of seemingly ineffective attacks. This was the first total Canadian victory with Canadian troops fighting together under Canadian leadership. This was a significant step in the growth of Canadian pride and nationalism.

NATO stands for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It was formed on April 4th 1949 when several nations came together including Canada to form it. NATO was created to be a defense pact against further Soviet Agression. It was also formed to discourage any attacks, because of the amount of countries involved. All members are pledged to defend each other from enemy attacks. The 12 founding members included Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States. In 1955, the Soviet Union Organized the countries behind the iron curtain into a rival military alliance. This alliance was known as the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was formed because the Soviet Union feared NATO. The creation of NATO...
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