The Canadian Home Front
The Role of Women Overseas
◦ In 1941, for the first time in Canadian
history official women’s branches were
 Army
 The Canadian Women’s Army Corps – CWAC
 Air force
 The RCAF – Women’s Division
 Navy
 Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service –
called “Wrens”
The Role of Women Over Seas
◦ By the end of the war, over 46,000 Canadian
women served overseas
 As cooks, nurses, pilots, mechanics, welders and radar
◦ Canadian women were even assigned to coastal
defenses, and some even flew planes across the
Atlantic during Ferry Command
 During Ferry Command, nearly 10,000 planes were
flown from North America to Britain
◦ These trans-Atlantic flights were very dangerous
 Over 500 flyers died while making this trip
The Role of Women Over Seas
◦ The most dangerous job for women was to serve as
part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE)
 Women who did this worked as secret agents, who
were parachuted into occupied France to find out
everything they could to help the Allies plan an
invasion on Normandy
◦ Women worked as saboteurs, couriers, and radio
operators for the SOE
◦ Also, during the Battle of Britain,
women worked at secret radar
stations to alert the Allies of
incoming planes
The Role of Women on the Home Front
◦ There was a big increase in the number of women
in the Canadian workforce during WW2
◦ Factories began to operate 7 days a week, 12 hours
a day
◦ By 1944, the number of women in the work force
had reached over 1 million
◦ Women held the same jobs as men but were paid
◦ During the war the Canadian government provided
daycare and tax breaks for women, but once the
war ended, so did this assistance
◦ Most people expected women would give up their
jobs to returning soldiers when the war was over.
◦ When the second World War started, the economic
depression of the 1930’s was over
◦ The whole economy was focused on maintaining
the flow of weapons and supplies to Britain
◦ Many industries were involved in war production
◦ Canadian factories made bombs, bullets, ships,
aircrafts, and armoured cars
◦ Automobile factories stopped making cars and
began to only make vehicles for the battle front
◦ The focus of Canadian industries on wartime
production was called the “total war effort”
◦ Canadian government played a much larger role in
◦ Crown Corporations (owned by the government)
dedicated to all aspects of wartime production
◦ Federal government introduced rationing (limited
gas, coffee, butter, milk, and meat as examples)
◦ The War Supply Board was created and managed by
C.D. Howe
 He was given total power
◦ The goal was to organize Canadian industry toward
a single purpose of supplying the front
Government paid for
war effort through:
◦ Taxes
◦ War bond sales
◦ Gold payments from Britain
Gov’t introduced
rationing and
restrictions on:
◦ Gas
◦ Coffee
◦ Tea
Metal drive – melted down scrap metal to
build ammunitions, planes, etc. for war
◦ When the American government introduced the
Lend Lease Act in 1941, Canada became very
worried that Allied countries would no longer buy
from them
 The Lend Lease Act allowed Allied countries to buy
materials from the US without having to pay up front
◦ Prime Minister King and President Roosevelt created
the Hyde Park Declaration, which stated that:
 The US would buy more raw materials from Canada,
and the US would also supply Canada with American
parts for weapon production
Propaganda is information that is spread for
the purpose of promoting something
The information spread by propaganda
during WWII was not always truthful
The National Film Board of Canada developed
hundreds of documentaries and short films to
encourage Canadians to participate in WWII
Posters were also made to create the idea
that the enemies were very evil, and to
discourage Canadians from carelessly talking
about war information
The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
◦ In 1939, Canada created the British Commonwealth Air
Training Plan, which created facilities in Canada to train
pilots and other crew members from Commonwealth
◦ By 1942 there was a very large demand for pilots, as the
Allies began the systematic bombing of German cities
 Allied planes flew across enemy lines to bomb cities, dams,
and industries
◦ By the end of the war, more than 130,000 air personnel
were trained at over 230 sites across Canada
Camp X
◦ Was a special spy training facility located outside
Oshawa, Ontario
◦ Camp X opened a few days after the Japanese
bombing of Pearl Harbour
◦ Canadian, British, and American spies were trained
at this secret school
 Camp X trained 500 spies to work around the world
◦ Several Canadian spies served “behind enemy lines”
providing valuable information about the enemies
◦ Most Canadian government and military leaders did
not even know that Camp X existed
◦ Was also where Hydra (complex radio) intercepted
enemy signals and transmitted information between
North America and Britain
1939 – PM King made an election promise to
never introduce conscription (mandatory
military service) for overseas duty
By 1940 – King implemented the
National Resource Mobilization Act (NRMA)
◦ Gave the government the power to control human
and material resources in emergencies
◦ Everyone over 16 years had to sign up to defend
the country for “home defense”- NOT OVERSEAS
◦ Only those that were mentally unfit or with strong
religious beliefs were excluded
By 1942 – need for more
troops overseas
PM King held a
plebiscite (vote) asking
Canadians to release
him from his promise
not to introduce
PM King Voting in 1942 Conscription
•As the war was ending,
◦ Majority of English Canadians conscription sent 13,000
supported conscription (82% Canadians overseas
•Only 2,000 reached the front
◦ Majority of French Canadians
•The Conscription Crisis of 1942
did not - (72% NO)
created tensions between French
& English Canada
•It did not create the same
extreme conflict of the WWI
(1917) crisis
As in WWI, The War Measures Act was used
The government required groups of Canadians
to register as enemy aliens.
◦ They were afraid that they might be spies or might
commit acts of sabotage
◦ This was anyone who was from an ethnic group whose
homelands were at war with Canada
26 internment camps were set up in Canada
The government banned any pro-Nazi political
parties, as well as the communist party of
In total - over 100,000 Canadians were forced
to register
Religious groups who
practiced pacifism were
met with hostility
Members of these groups
avoided military service
by pleading that they
were “conscientious
They were offered public
service work instead of
military service
objectors building the
Jasper Road in Alberta,
Discrimination was shown against Black
Canadians until 1942
As the war went on – Black and White Canadians
served together in the armed forces
Blacks began to demand equality in other areas
Aboriginal peoples served in armed forces
After war - believed that if they were willing to
fight and die for their country, that should share
the same rights as all citizens
Also prejudice (negative attitude towards a group
of people) against refugees from Europe (people
fleeing persecution)
Canada made it very difficult for Jewish refugees
to enter the country
The worst legacy of the Nazis was its effort to
eliminate Europe’s Jewish people
Eventually, many Jewish people were captured
and taken to concentration camps (often
called death camps) where 6 million Jewish
people were killed
Many Jewish people tried to flee Europe to
escape this
Anti-Semitism: hatred
of Jews – existed in
Some people refused
to hire Jewish judges,
lawyers, professors,
and teachers
Many clubs and
resorts openly
displayed signs on
their doors declaring
“No Jews Allowed”
Restrictive Immigration Policies:
◦ Preference given to British and American immigrants,
while others were actively discouraged
1938 – Canadian League of Nations Society met with PM
King to appeal to the government to accept Jewish
refugees from Europe based on humanitarian grounds
◦ A Government official said:
 “We don’t want to take too many Jews, but in the
present circumstances particularly, we don’t want to
say so.”
◦ When asked how many Jews the Canadian government
intended to allow to enter Canada, another
government official responded by saying:
 “None is too many.”
◦ In 1907, there was a race riot in Vancouver where
approximately 5,000 racist Canadians smashed the
windows of Japanese home and stores
◦ These racist Canadians terrorized Japanese
Canadians so they would leave Canada
◦ White Canadians were frustrated because Japanese
people were competing with them for jobs and were
willing to work for lower wages
◦ In 1928, Prime Minister Mackenzie King limited the
number of Japanese immigrants entering Canada.
◦ This was to control the Japanese population growth
and to lessen the risk of future riots
•Only 150 Japanese people were allowed to enter
Canada each year
•Before WW2, Japanese and Chinese Canadians were
denied the right to vote, and were not permitted to
join the armed forces
After Pearl Harbour
◦ People were scared that Japanese Canadians might give
secret information to Japan, or even help them invade
◦ In 1942, internment of Japanese Canadians began
◦ Japanese Canadians were stripped of rights
◦ All Japanese were fingerprinted, photographed, and
given an identification number.
 They had to carry identification cards at all times
◦ Japanese Canadians were forced to choose between
deportation, or relocation away from the west coast
 Most chose to relocate
◦ In total, 22,000 Japanese Canadians were sent to
internment camps (14,000 of whom were born in
After Pearl Harbour
◦ In 1943, the Canadian government passed a law
called the Custodian of Alien Act, which allowed the
possessions of Japanese Canadians to be sold
without their permission
 Items were sold quickly and very cheaply
 Money went to realtors and auctioneers
◦ Japanese were then forced to pay for their stay in
the internment camps
◦ In 1944, a law was passed stating that the Japanese
could be deported to Japan if they did not leave
British Columbia, even if they were born in Canada
◦ By 1946, after the war was over, Japanese
Canadians were released from the internment
◦ In 1988, 46 years after the first internment camp,
Japanese Canadians were compensated (given
money) for all they had been through during the
◦ Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed a
compensation package giving $21,000 for each
internee’s survivor.
◦ In total $12 million dollars were paid out