The Home Front

Canada Enters WW1
Battle of Ypres
6,035 Canadians died in two days.
 By February 1915 the Canadians troops
had finished their training in England
and joined the British and French troops
in Belgium.
 On April 22nd German unleashed a
secret weapon – deadly green chlorine
gas. Many French soldiers chocked to
death while others ran to safety.
Throughout the night the Canadians
fought on the front line against the
Germans. Thousands of soldiers died
but many soldiers managed to hang on
for the next day and night.
 On the third day the Germans made
another gas attack directly on the
Canadians. They held the line for 16
days until reinforcements came.
The Battle of the Somme
The Allies had learned about gas at
Ypres so they now had gas masks. They
also had steel helmets which were new.
 By 1916 the German lines were still not
breaking. The Allied commanders
decided to attack and use all their men
and ammunitions. They wanted to break
through around the area of the Somme
River in Northern France.
Beaumont Hamel
On July 1st 1916 in broad daylight 100,000
Allied soldiers marched slowly shoulder to
shoulder in a straight line towards the
German trenches.
 German machine guns cut them down as
they approached – 38,230 Allied soldiers
were wounded and 19,240 were killed in
one day.
Near the town of Beaumont Hamel, the
Newfoundland Regiment was almost
entirely wiped out. Out of 801, only 68
made it.
To this day, July 1st is a day of
remembrance in Newfoundland.
The Battle Continues
The Battle of the Somme went on for
141 days of desperate fighting. By
November the rain had turned the
battlefields into bogs and both sides
slowly stopped firing as they were all too
 The allies advanced only 11 kms in total
and about 200,000 Allied soldiers were
killed, including about 8,000 Canadians.
Canadian Pride
The British noticed the bravery of the
Canadians and after the Battle of the
Somme Canadians were often chose to
lead attacks.
Others had the opinion that the British
forces were just using Canadians so that
the British soldiers wouldn’t be killed.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge
Early in 1917 the Allies again decided to
try to “push through” the Western Front
with a major attack.
The French, British, and Canadians
were each assigned different jobs. The
Canadians were supposed to take over
Vimy Ridge in Northern France. It would
be the first time all Canadians fought
together in one place.
Vimy Ridge was a hill that Germans had
built up and was well protected and
supplied. It had a network of trenches
protected with barbed wire, machine guns
and heavier guns that could attack the
enemy troops before they were even close
to the hill. They had installed electric lights
and a small railway to bring in supplied.
British and French troops had tried to take
Vimy Ridge before but had failed.
A Planned Assault
The head of British and Canadian forces
wanted to avoid direct attack that had
been a disaster at the Somme. They
came up with an unusual plan and built
a model of Vimy Ridge so they could
The Canadians started by bombarding
the Ridge with heavy artillery fire but
then they made a surprise attack…
The Attack
On April 9th 1917, in the middle of a sleet
storm, Canadian soldiers crept up the hill in
the middle of their own exploding shells. They
surprised the Germans in their trenches and
in a few hours the ridge was taken.
 On the day, more ground, guns, and German
prisoners were taken than in all the earlier
years of the war.
 However, Canadians paid the price – 3,598
were killed and about 6,000 were wounded.
You have heard lots of information about
Canada and Newfoundland’s role in the
First World War.
What do you think about war? What
kinds of issues are worth fighting for?
Ask yourself – do you think war is ever a
good idea? Do you think war is an
appropriate action in some
circumstances or is war never the
Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep.
Many had lost their boots but limped on, blood-shod.
All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie;
Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori.
-Wilfred Owen, March 1918
 The
line “Dulce et Decorum est pro
patria mori” translates in Latin to “It is
sweet and right to die for one’s
After reading this poem, what do you
think Owen’s opinion of war is?
Option #1: Write a paragraph explaining
how this poem made you feel. Were there
any lines or images that stuck out in your
head? Do you agree or disagree with
Owen’s opinion of war?
Option #2: Write your own poem as a
response to Owen’s poem. It can be a
traditional (rhyming) poem, an acrostic
poem, a haiku or free verse poem.
On the Home Front
Everyone is affected when a country is
at war. The men and women in battle
are most affected, but the families on
the “home front” as well.
How do you think WW1 affected
Canadians at home?
Victory Bonds
The Government of Canada sold Victory
Bonds to raise money for the way.
People would buy 5, 10 or 20 year
certificates. If you bought a bond you
would get your money back with interest
after the time was up.
Look at these advertisements for Victory
Bonds and think about what message
they are trying to get across.
Video Clips
On the Home Front
Supporting the War at Home
The Role of Women in WW1
Choosing Not to Fight
Not all men in Canada volunteered to
fight. Some believed they were needed
more at home, to work in industries that
were important to the war effort or to stay
at home with their families.
Other men also objected to the war for
personal or religious reasons.
Reasons For Not Fighting
No matter the reason for not enlisting, a
man who did not volunteer often found
people thought less of him.
 Many men noticed that his friends
ignored him.
 Women would sometimes come up to
men on the street and hand them a
white feather if they weren’t enlisted – a
symbol of cowardice.
Imagine the point of view of both men
who enlisted and men who didn’t enlist.
 You will be given one of these roles and
asked to write a short journal entry
expressing your frustration of the
Women Take Charge
With so many men away at war, it was up to
women to keep the country running and support
their families. Many women started doing jobs that
would have only been for men before the war.
Women often held parties and dances to raise
money for the war. Women all over also worked
together to make things for soldiers on the front
line – they made and send items such as clothing,
wrapped bandages, soap and candies.
At home, women tried to use a few goods and
food as possible so that as many resources
could be used for the soldiers as possible.
Many families planted “Victory Gardens” so they
could grow their own vegetables. They also cut
back on meat, flour and sugar. Almost
everything they needed was rationed by the
When something is rationed you can only buy a
small amount of it. It was hard to make due with
less but women took pride in contributing to the
war effort.
Young People in War
Young people were also very affected by the
war. Many children had fathers who went to
war and were either killed or injured badly,
changing their family forever.
When the fathers were away families had less
income. Often aunts and grandparents would
help care for children. Some children were
sent to orphanages because mothers could
not manage on their own. It was the idea that
children would rejoin their family after the war.
Helping out with the War Effort
Many children still went to work or school but
also helped out with the war effort if they could.
With their mother’s working, girls had to do more
chores at home such as cooking, cleaning and
taking care of younger children. Girls worked
with their moms to make supplies for soldiers.
In fishing families, many young boys had to do
more work than most grown men usually would.
Children were often let out of school early to
help with chores.
A Child’s View
Most children became very interested in
the details of the war. Battles were
marked out on maps and children
learned the names of designs of
airplanes, tanks and ships.
 Boys who were 12 or older were also
asked to join Cadets. In Cadets boys
learned to handle rifles and did drills to
become fit.
The Halifax Explosion
The Halifax Explosion occurred in Halifax,
Nova Scotia, on the morning of December 6,
1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo
ship fully loaded with wartime explosives,
was involved in a collision with the Norwegian
vessel SS Imo.
 Approximately twenty minutes later, a fire on
board the French ship ignited her explosive
cargo, causing an explosion that devastated
the Richmond District of Halifax.
Approximately 2,000 people were killed
by debris, fires, and collapsed buildings,
and it is estimated that nearly 9,000
others were injured.
 The blast was the largest man-made
explosion prior to the development of
nuclear weapons. It is estimated the
blast came from about 2,400 tons of
high explosive.
Mont-Blanc was under orders from the
French government to carry her highly
explosive cargo overseas to Bordeaux,
France. At roughly 8:45 am, she collided at
slow speed (one to one and a half miles
per hour) with the 'in-ballast' (without
cargo) Imo.
 The fire aboard the French ship quickly
grew out of control. Without accessible
firefighting equipment, the captain, pilot,
officers and men were forced to abandon
her within a few minutes following the
Approximately 20 minutes later, MontBlanc exploded with tremendous
force. Nearly all structures within a half-mile,
including the entire community of Richmond,
were completely destroyed. A pressure wave
of air snapped trees, bent iron rails,
demolished buildings, and carried fragments
of the Mont-Blanc for several kilometers.
Hardly a window in the city survived.
Across the harbor, in Dartmouth, there was
also widespread damage. A tsunami created
by the blast wiped out the community
of Mi'kmaq First Nations. There were a
number of casualties including five children
who drowned in the tsunami.
Video Clip
Shattered City – The Halifax Explosion (this
one doesn’t have scary noises or music!)
A Booming Economy
Before the war Canadian and Newfoundland
economies were not doing well. A lot of
people did not have jobs and there was little
help with poverty. The war changed all that.
Suddenly there was a great demand for
workers at home because so many supplies
were needed for soldiers. There was also
many job openings because so many men
were away at war.
Feeding the Allies
The farms, fields and orchards became
battlefields during the war. Britain relied on
Canada to produce grain, dairy and meat
for the troops as well as other countries.
Fish from Newfoundland and other fishing
provinces was also in high demand.
The demand for products were great for
farmers – prices were high and they could
sell anything they could grow, raise or catch.
The Munitions Industry
During the war factories were set up to
manufacture weapons and ammunition. At
first, the rifles, bombs and shells that were
produced were made slowly and were low
quality. This was a problem for two reasons
– Britain was relying on Canada for the
weapons and the poor quality of them put
the soldiers in danger.
The government formed the Imperial
Munitions Board to help Canada get
organized and produce better weapons.
By the end of the war there were 600
factories with 250,000 employees.
After the war the factories were
reorganized for other kinds of
manufacturing, which was a big help to
Canada’s economy.
One reason people go into business is
to make money. When there is a crisis,
such as a war, the demand for many
products such as food and weapons.
People need these products so bad that
they will pay a lot of money for them.
That leaves the business owner with a
decision to make about how much to
Many Canadians felt that a lot of business
owners were profiteering – charging an
unfair price for their products. They
demanded that the government do
something about it.
On 1917, the government started taxing
business products. Even after this tax was
put in place many Canadians still felt that
business owners were benefitting from the
war more than they should and were
putting their needs above the good of
Enemy Aliens
According to the War Measures Act, an enemy
alien was anyone who was born in a country
that was against the Allies in the war. This
included thousands of German and Ukrainian
families who had been encouraged to
immigrate to Canada. Suddenly, these people
were considered to be the enemy.
Many enemy aliens found it hard to start
businesses or get hired.
Enemy Aliens had to register with the
police and report on a regular basis –
they did not have the same freedoms as
The government also made it illegal to
publish books in “enemy” languages and
took away their right to vote.
Internment Camps
Worst of all, 8,597 enemy aliens were sent to
internment camps in Northern Quebec and
Ontario. Many men were sent here simply
because they were out of work and they were
out of work only because of discrimination.
Conditions at the camps were very poor. Men
had to build roads and bridges and clear
brush. They were poorly clothed and housed
and worked long hours and had almost
nothing in wages.
By the Spring of 1917, fewer and fewer
men were enlisting in the army. The
forces were so short on men that the
soldiers who had been wounded were
being sent back to the front lines before
they were better.
Conscription is when a person is forced
to enlist whether or not he or she is
willing to.
Reasons For Not Signing Up
Farming, ranching and fishing families could
not spare any more young people.
People knew that one out of three soldiers
who went into battle would be wounded or
killed. They no longer saw the war as
glamorous and stopped believing men were
cowards if they didn’t enlist.
There were good opportunities at home.
Wages were high and it was easy to get a job.
In both Canada and Newfoundland, many
members of government believed it was time
to bring in conscription.
Conscription was not a popular idea and many
rural communities believed they could not
survive if more men had to go to war. French
Canadians were almost totally against the
Most members of Borden’s Conservative
government were in favor of conscription, but
many Liberals and French Canadians were
against it. Borden could not make conscription
legal without getting a majority of the members
of Parliament to vote in favor of it.
Borden tried to form a coalition government –
when different parties work together to get a
majority vote. Liberal leader, Wilfred Laurier
wasn’t interested in a coalition government but
Borden did manage to get most EnglishCanadian Liberals to join his side and create
what was called the Union Government.
Conscription Passed
The support of the Union Government gave
Borden enough votes to pass the Military
Service Act in August 1917. This allowed
the government to force healthy men, ages
20-45, to serve in the war as long as they
were not needed in war industries or were
not conscientious objectors.
 Conscientious objectors are people who
claim to right to refuse military service on
the grounds of freedom of thought,
conscious or religion.
By the time the conscripted Canadian and
Newfoundland recruits had been organized
and trained, only a small number actually
ended up going to battle.
To the great relief of the world, the Allies and
Central Powers agreed to end the war at
11:00 am on November 11th, 1918. This
event was referred to as an armistice, which
is a kind of truce. In fact, the Allies had won.
The troops could go home.
Long Term Effects of WW1
The cost of the war caused the government to
go deeply into dept. There was little money to
build the economy and many people had hard
 In both Canada and Newfoundland,
disagreements over issues such as
conscription caused long-lasting political
 Because of its contribution to war, Canada
received greater respect from other nations.
Despite its heroic efforts, Newfoundland
was not invited to the peace conferences
after the war. Because of this, combined
with the many causalities and debt,
Newfoundland did not have a strong,
independent future.
 Aboriginal people were still discriminated
against after the war. Aboriginals did note
received benefits such as land grants and
pensions like other veterans and actually
had land taken from them.
 African-Canadians were also discriminated
against, but their accomplishments in the
war helped to break down some barriers.