Canada's Coming of Age: 1945-1970

By the end of the Second World War,  a large part of Europe was in ruins, with 62 million people dead.

Nuclear bombs had been dropped for the first time, on two cities in Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, destroying them. The race for a new kind of weapon with the ability to destroy an entire continent and even the world had begun.

The United States of America and the Soviet Union emerged as two super-powers.  Both of them held the keys that controlled these nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

This was the beginning of the Cold War era.

It was also the start of Canada’s peacekeeping efforts.  Through the United Nations, Canada played a significant role in promoting peace and workable compromises in world affairs.  During the Suez Canal crisis of 1956, Canada initiated the first international peacekeeping mission, which defused a volatile situation.

Here at home, Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation and became the tenth province.

After the Second World War, Canada encouraged new patterns of immigration. Our country accepted many displaced persons and refugees for humanitarian reasons.  Up to 65,000 war brides and other Europeans, many of them Italians, also made this land their home.  They settled in urban areas and helped to expand a growing industrial sector.

First Peoples also tried to improve their situation but the Indian Act posed a key obstacle. Even though many returned to Canada as war heroes, they would have to wait another 15 years before being given the right to vote in federal elections.

During this era in Quebec, immigration more than doubled. There was a climate of change, which enabled people to question and reject certain institutions and values.  Making a break from the past, the province went through a process of change that was nothing short of a Revolution, albeit a quiet one.
Royal Ontario Museum
Historical Advisors: Alison Faulknor, The Dominion Institute; Nick Brune, author and history teacher; Scott Carpenter, Métis Nation of Ontario; Caroline Cholette, Hydro-Québec Archives
1945 - 1970
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

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