Good or Bad? The Impacts Of WW1 On Canada

The First World War had a mostly negative impact on Canada because of declines in the agricultural sector and poor treatment of non-Western European people in Canada. The war to end all wars led to the plunge of the farming sector in Canada, and factories had a prominent role to play in this. Non-Western Europeans were not liked in Canada, and the great war turned hatred against them into paranoia, which led to their poor treatment. The great war had a positive impact too, like the recognition of the contributions made by women during the war.

The great war hurt Canada because it led to the agricultural sector’s decline in Canada. More and more factories were being built, and the factories of the Imperial Munitions Board employed 250,000 men and 50,000 women. A historian named William Young said in the article, “After the fighting, a nation changed,” “The high wages paid by the new munitions factories seemed to exercise an almost irresistible attraction for the comparatively underpaid agricultural laborer’s who flooded to the cities to work.” Prime Minister Borden allowed farmers’ sons to be exempt from conscription, but this promise was broken, further worsening the employment crisis in the agricultural sector. This led to less agricultural production, which put the sector into a decline. A vital component of war was now in short supply.

Non-Western Europeans were not liked in Canada, and World War I caused hatred for them to skyrocket. German speakers, people from the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Ukrainians were thought to be disloyal to Canada. This hatred only escalated when a lot of people faced internment because of their ethnicity. In May of 1919, there was a huge strike in Winnipeg, which increased paranoia and made it seem that capitalism and good order were under attack. This made Canada have fear and unrest as the nation was getting so divided, that ethnicities were getting spied on for fear of rebellion similar to Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

The way women contributed to Canada allowed them to get rights after the war had ended. Before the war, women were housewives while men were the workers, but when the war came, though they had lower wages than men, they filled the positions of men. This allowed women to show their abilities and since this was a major change, it attracted the government’s attention. Women were seen more in the workplace, though later on in the war the amount of women in the workplace returned to pre war levels. In 1917, during the Canadian elections, women, especially those that had relatives on the front, were allowed to vote. Even though it was a political move, this eventually led to the permanent right for all women to vote in 1918. These contributions led to the government recognizing women’s efforts, paving the way for the call for more women’s rights.

World War I had a bad impact on Canada because of the decline of the agricultural sector and more hatred against non-Western European people in Canada. Hatred and agricultural insecurity resulted in a slew of setbacks for Canada. There were some positive impacts too, and one that I have talked about is the increase in rights for women. World war one had a lot of positives. The positives of World War one show that, there are many negatives to World War one, but sometimes great sacrifices yield future gains.


What do you think about the impact of World War 1 on Canada? Was it good or bad?

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