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Gathering of the Clans
Canada's contribution to the First World War

Perhaps the most important and enduring results of the present war will be those which were least intended and are least material in character. This conflict will always be remembered by Britons as that in which the British Empire finally "found itself." That Empire, which its enemies expected to fall to pieces in the hour of England's test and trial, will emerge from the struggle with a greater strength and unity than could have been won by centuries of political effort and aspiration. Mr. Bonar Law, the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, has expressed the truth in a few simple words:"Our enemies said, and probably they believed, that the outbreak of war would be the signal for the breaking up of the British Empire. They have been mistaken. After this war the relations between the great Dominions and the Mother Country can never be the same again. The pressure of our enemies is welding us together, and the British Empire is becoming in reality, as well as in name, a united nation."

It is impossible to estimate the effect of this common experience, unparallelled in the history of the world on the countless races sheltered under the British flag. Englishmen, Scotsmen, Irishmen, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Newfoundlanders, South Africans, Indians and every other race in the Empire have fought shoulder to shoulder for the same objects and ideas. Hitherto the wars of the British Empire have been carried on by comparatively small armies, not representing, as our armies in this war, all classes in every community. Today the entire British nation is fighting on the various fronts. Men of varied races are beginning to know each other by personal contact and friendship, and those vast contingents, when they return to their several states, will exercise a powerful influence in promoting the spiritual and political unity of the Empire.

When the war bugles of the Empire sounded in August, 1914, every province sprang to arms. It was no mere love of adventure that prompted this impulse, but a feeling not only that the power and prestige and even the existence of the Empire were at stake, but that the ideas of freedom and justice and fair dealing upon which the British Empire is founded were involved in the struggle. It may be interesting to describe in a few articles the many forms which this loyal and ungrudging assistance of the whole empire took. We may begin with Canada as the Dominion nearest the homeland. The promptitude with which she prepared for the conflict was astonishing. In less than two months from the outbreak of war the Dominion, which only numbers between seven and eight millions of people, concentrated, armed and sent to Europe an Expeditionary Eorce of 33,000 men. This was a voluntary army, the first complete Division ever assembled in Canada, and by far the largest force that ever crossed the Atlantic at one time. This first Division was destined to do wonders. It was scarcely flung into the furnace of war before it was called to a stern and decisive duty. On the battlefield of Langemarck it barred the way to the advancing Germans and saved the day for the Empire, the Allies and the world.

But this force was only an earnest of the fighting power Canada was to put in the field. Now, after nineteen months of war, power has been taken by Order in Council in Canada to increase the number of men to 500,000, and the recruiting shows that this figure will easily be attained. Returns from several military districts show that up to December 15th, 1915, the number of recruits enlisted for all purposes since the outbreak of the War amounted to 198,000 men and 7,000 officers. Exclusive of officers, Ontario had raised 77,000 men, Quebec 24,000, the Maritime Provinces 20,000, Manitoba and Saskatchewan 37,500, Alberta 21,200, and British Columbia and the Yukon 19,700. Canada has indeed followed the drums. "From the workshops and offices of new cities, from the lumber camps of her forests, from the vast wheatfields of the west, from the farms and orchards of the east, from the slopes of the Rockies, from the shores of Hudson Bay, from the mining valleys of British Columbia, from the banks of the Yukon, from the reaches of the St. Lawrence, the manhood of Canada hurried to arms."

And a glorious account of themselves they have given and are giving on this western front. At Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, Festubert, Givenchy and elsewhere they have built up a record of individual and collective valour which has never been transcended in the long annals of war. They have earned innumerable honours and rewards from the V.C. to the " mention," and the extent to which they have borne the heaviest brunt of the fighting is shown by the figures of 13,000 casualties sustained down to November 30th, 1915.

But Canada's contribution is not exhausted in these fully and splendidly equipped contingents of all arms. It has taken many other forms. Here is a brief table of the money raised in the Dominion for specific objects down to the end of November :

Canadian Patriotic Fund ... $9,000,000
Canadian Red Cross ... 3,500,000
British Red Cross...... 2,000,000

But there have been also most generous and welcome gifts in kind. The Dominion sent 1,000,000 bags of flour; Alberta, 500,000 bushels of oats: Quebec, 4,000,000 lbs. of cheese; Nova Scotia offered 100,000 tons of coal, but the gift was changed to 100,000 dollars for the relief of distress: Prince Edward Island sent 100,000 bushels of oats, with cheese and hay; Ontario, 250,000 bags of flour; Saskatchewan, 1,500 horses; New Brunswick, 100,000 bushels of potatoes; Manitoba, 50,000 bags of flour; British Columbia, 25,000 cases of tinned salmon. This is by no means a complete enumeration, and further gifts are still coming in.

And Canada has done a great work for the war hospitals. The Dominion Government furnished 20,000 for the organisation and equipment of a hospital in France known as the "Hospice Canadien."

The women of Canada sent 57,192 as a gift, 20,000 to be handed to the War Office for hospital purposes and the balance to the Admiralty for the Canadian Women's Hospital at Haslow.

The Canadian War Contingent Association in England are maintaining a large military hospital at Shorncliffe.

The Canadian Government have sent a handsome contribution to the Anglo-Russian Hospital.

Hospitals are being maintained by the Canadian Red Cross.

The Provincial Government of Ontario has provided and equipped a large military hospital at Orpington in Kent.

And finally must be mentioned the invaluable Canadian contribution in the manufacture of munitions, clothing, foodstuffs, etc., for the Allied Armies. Sir Robert Borden stated in the House of Commons on February 22nd of this year (1916) that British purchases in Canada were much greater than most people imagined and that large orders had been given for boots, clothing, blankets, copper, rifles, and foodstuffs. Even submarines have been produced in the Dominion and delivered for use, and Canada has placed her credit to the extent of twenty millions sterling at the disposal of the home country.

Truly all this constitutes a wonderful record in patriotic service, and its ultimate political effects will prove as important as its immediate and practical utility.


It is interesting to recall what Newfoundland, the smallest autonomous Dominion, has done to aid in the defence of the Empire. In the same week in which War was declared a Patriotic Association was formed in the Colony, and the Government undertook to increase the already enlisted Naval Reserve of 600 men to 1,000 and to enlist a further force of 500 men for land service. Since then the naval force has been increased to over 2,000, while the land forces compose a regiment of 1,500 strong, with others under training at St. John's. From a colony of 250,000 people, with a substantial emigration and no immigration whatever, this is something of an achievement. After a period of training with Kitchener's Army, the Newfoundland Regiment left England for Alexandria, whence they proceeded direct to the Gallipoli Peninsula. There they bore their part in the struggle side by side with their brothers-in-arms from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, being present at Suvla Bay and at the evacuation of Helles. They claim to have reached the nearest point to Constantinople, namely, a hill which they captured and called Caribou Hill. The Newfoundlanders were also the last unit to leave the peninsula. They greatly distinguished themselves again in the early events of the forward movement on the Western Front.

It is a source of pride to Newfoundlanders that the men of their regiment are almost without exception native-born. This is the first time through all the years of its eventful history that the Colony has ever enlisted a force for foreign service. But the call of the Empire was strong, and the loyal response it received will have earned for Newfoundland an honourable place in any scheme of closer imperial union which may be formed when the War is over. It should be added that the naval force has been largely engaged in patrolling the Dardanelles and the North Sea, and that the Colony has also raised a Patriotic Fund of 20,000 with which to assist the families of the soldiers and sailors now on active service. The women of the Colony have sent 4,000 worth of comforts for the sick and wounded and for the men in the trenches, while a valuable gift of' aeroplanes has also been presented by this loyal and enterprising member of the British family.

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