Wounded soldiers in the trenches at Battle of the Somme

In a bloody battle lasting five months, over one million men were wounded or killed at the Somme. Canada lost one quarter (24, 000 men) of its contingent. However, the event did serve to secure the Canadian soldiers’ reputation as an effective assault force. As Prime Minister of Great Britain, Lloyd George wrote shortly after the battle, "The Canadians played a part of such distinction that thenceforward they were marked out as storm troops; for the remainder of the war they were brought along to head the assault in one great battle after another. Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."

Photographer unknown. William H. Hammond Fonds, Ontario Archives
1916
F 4436 or F 4436-0-0-0-209
© William H. Hammond Fonds Ontario Archives. All Rights Reserved.


Canadian soldiers celebrate and cheer from the backs of trucks after fighting on Vimy Ridge

The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge was a momentous occasion for Canada as a nation and an important win for the Allied armies. It was the first battle strategy to be planned and implemented by Canadian commanders on their own. The battle at Vimy Ridge was significant in helping to assert Canada’s place in the world as an individual nation, however it cost the country dearly; over the course of four days, nearly 10,000 Canadian soldiers were wounded or killed.

Photographer unknown. Canadian Expeditionary Force albums, Ontario Archives
1917
C 224 or C 224-0-0-9-41
© Ontario Archives. All Rights Reserved.


After the Great War (the First World War), thousands of war widows adjusted to single parenting. Countless soldiers who survived the battlefield suffered shell shock.

The years that followed were filled with prosperity from a booming economy. During the 1920s, there was an optimism and a fascination with new technology such as airplanes and automobiles.

This hopefulness ended abruptly in 1929 when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Without the social safety nets that exist today, when many people lost their jobs and farms they faced starvation. Many Canadians were pushed to the boundaries of human endurance.

During the 1930s, immigration fell drastically. Newcomers who made their way to Canada were treated like outsiders. They were seen as stretching the country’s meagre resources. Most of these immigrants came from Britain or the United States.

After the Great War little changed for First Peoples, even though many had volunteered and many became war heroes. Entire generations of First Peoples and Metis were forced into residential schools. Children were uprooted from their families and communities and were f Read More
After the Great War (the First World War), thousands of war widows adjusted to single parenting. Countless soldiers who survived the battlefield suffered shell shock.

The years that followed were filled with prosperity from a booming economy. During the 1920s, there was an optimism and a fascination with new technology such as airplanes and automobiles.

This hopefulness ended abruptly in 1929 when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Without the social safety nets that exist today, when many people lost their jobs and farms they faced starvation. Many Canadians were pushed to the boundaries of human endurance.

During the 1930s, immigration fell drastically. Newcomers who made their way to Canada were treated like outsiders. They were seen as stretching the country’s meagre resources. Most of these immigrants came from Britain or the United States.

After the Great War little changed for First Peoples, even though many had volunteered and many became war heroes. Entire generations of First Peoples and Metis were forced into residential schools. Children were uprooted from their families and communities and were forced to abandon their language and culture.

By the end of the 1930s Europe found itself at the doorstep of another world war.

When war arrived in 1939 the entire country drew together to help.  Over a million volunteered. Many of them were sent overseas. Canadian women worked in factories and proved their ability in skilled trades. The war effort Pulled Canada out of the depths of the Depression.

Despite the number of volunteers more people were needed. Canada once again found itself in a conscription crisis, as it had during the First World War. Some Canadians objected to the forced conscription of men for the armed forces. The Second World War left its mark on Canadians in many ways.

Canada played a crucial role in the Allied Victory. The D-Day landings in 1944 and the liberation of the Dutch were some of the triumphs of this young country.

All of this was in stark contrast to certain effects of the War Measures Act. here at home

All Japanese Canadians were ordered to register with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Large numbers were later interned (imprisoned in camps) without cause, even though many of them were Canadian-born or naturalized citizens. During this time and for years to come, Japanese Canadians were denied the most basic human rights.
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© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Japanese Canadians taking the train to the west coast, on the way to live in Japan.

Japanese Canadians taking the train to the west coast, on the way to live in Japan, following the Second World War. About 4,000 Japanese Canadians left Canada for Japan as a result of the treatment they received at the hands of the Canadian government during the War. Some of them had never even seen Japan, having been born in Canada; yet they felt driven to leave.

Photographer unknown - Library and Archives Canada
1942
C-057250
© Library and Archives Canada. All Rights Reserved.


This artifact is a ‘Welcome to New Canadians Certificate’.

This artifact is a ‘Welcome to New Canadians Certificate’. It was given by the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (I.O.D.E.) at Citizenship Courts. The I.O.D.E. aimed to encourage support for the British Empire by promoting the U.K. and British institutions.

Royal Ontario Museum
Courtesy of George and Gerry Hewson, the Nishimura family

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


The recipient of the I.O.D.E. certificate was Kinsaburo ‘Sam’ Nishimura.

The recipient of the I.O.D.E. certificate was Kinsaburo ‘Sam’ Nishimura. He received it in 1951. When Sam received his Canadian Citizenship he also received this I.O.D.E. document. After Sam passed away his children lent this certificate to the ROM so that students could learn about the certificate and about this period of Canadian history. Sam was born in 1899. He came to Canada when he was 20.

Royal Ontario Museum
Courtesy of George and Gerry Hewson, the Nishimura family
1931-10-31
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


This artifact looks like an official government document but in fact it's not.

If you look closely, you’ll see the following wording in the document:

“You are now admitted to share, with us, all the ancient liberties of the British peoples. We welcome you to share with us and to protect, even to death, these rights and privileges.
The Union Jack is the flag of Canada.
God Save the King is the National Anthem.”

From the wording we know that this Certificate was intended to promote patriotism throughout the British Empire (later called the British Commonwealth.

By looking at this document we realize a number of things.  During this time period:
‘Oh Canada’ was not our National Anthem. Canada was still not completely independent from the U.K.
Kinsaburo ‘Sam’ Nishimura received this certificate in 1951.  By the date, we know that the Second World War had ended only a few years before.  By looking at Sam’s full name we realize that he was a Japanese Canadian.
_____________ Read More
This artifact looks like an official government document but in fact it's not.

If you look closely, you’ll see the following wording in the document:

“You are now admitted to share, with us, all the ancient liberties of the British peoples. We welcome you to share with us and to protect, even to death, these rights and privileges.
The Union Jack is the flag of Canada.
God Save the King is the National Anthem.”

From the wording we know that this Certificate was intended to promote patriotism throughout the British Empire (later called the British Commonwealth.

By looking at this document we realize a number of things.  During this time period:
  • ‘Oh Canada’ was not our National Anthem.
  • Canada was still not completely independent from the U.K.
Kinsaburo ‘Sam’ Nishimura received this certificate in 1951.  By the date, we know that the Second World War had ended only a few years before.  By looking at Sam’s full name we realize that he was a Japanese Canadian.
_________________________

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Between 1877 and 1914, 30,000 Japanese immigrants came to Canada. They settled across Canada even though the majority preferred the west coast. Japanese Canadians played an important role in the resource and service sectors, helping to build the economy of Western Canada and British Columbia. 60% were Canadian-born. Almost all were under 30 years of age. In December 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in the U.S.A.
At this time, 22,000 Japanese Canadians lived in Canada, 95% of them in British Columbia. Under the War Measures Act, all Japanese Canadians were defined as enemy aliens All were forcibly uprooted from the coast. Most of the men were sent to work camps.  This was the second time that the federal government used the War Measures Act to relocate and confine civilians. On March 4th in 1942 Sam was sent to a work camp.  His wife and their four children would end up in a relocation camp called Tashme.  Two of their children were born in this internment camp.

Not until 1949, four years after Japan h Read More
  • Between 1877 and 1914, 30,000 Japanese immigrants came to Canada.
  • They settled across Canada even though the majority preferred the west coast.
  • Japanese Canadians played an important role in the resource and service sectors, helping to build the economy of Western Canada and British Columbia.
  • 60% were Canadian-born. Almost all were under 30 years of age.
  • In December 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in the U.S.A.
  • At this time, 22,000 Japanese Canadians lived in Canada, 95% of them in British Columbia.
  • Under the War Measures Act, all Japanese Canadians were defined as enemy aliens
  • All were forcibly uprooted from the coast. Most of the men were sent to work camps. 
  • This was the second time that the federal government used the War Measures Act to relocate and confine civilians.
On March 4th in 1942 Sam was sent to a work camp.  His wife and their four children would end up in a relocation camp called Tashme.  Two of their children were born in this internment camp.

Not until 1949, four years after Japan had surrendered and the Second World War had ended, were the majority of Japanese Canadians allowed to return to British Columbia. By then, most had chosen to begin life anew elsewhere in Canada.  During this time, the government had confiscated (taken away) their property and sold it at a fraction of its worth.

When Sam received his Canadian Citizenship he also received this I.O.D.E. document. 

Despite what he and his family went through during the Second World War, both he and his wife were proud Canadians.  Whenever their children asked about the internment period, both Sam and his wife would state their belief that “Canada is the best country in the world.”

After Sam passed away his children lent this certificate to the ROM so that students could learn about the certificate and about this period of Canadian history.

"It is a fact no person of Japanese race born in Canada has been charged with any act of sabotage or disloyalty during the years at war".
– Prime Minister William L. Mackenzie King, August 1944

During internment, Japanese Canadians lost $443 million.

In 1988, the federal government provided $21,000 for each individual
directly affected by the internment.

Over the past century five generations of Japanese Canadians have called Canada home.
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© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Jewish immigrants arrive in Canada

Between 1880 and 1930, 196,000 Jewish immigrants came to Canada. Prior to this immigration, the founders of the Toronto and Montreal Jewish communities came from other parts of the British Empire.

Ontario Jewish Archives

Image 541
© Ontario Jewish Archives. All Rights Reserved.


196,000 Jewish immigrants came to Canada between 1880 and 1930.

Prior to this immigration, the founders of the Toronto and Montreal Jewish communities came from other parts of the British Empire. The first Jewish immigrants arrived after the British Empire took possession of New France following the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War.

Early Jewish Canadians were either fur traders or served in the British Army.  Many were merchants and participated in international and local trade.
The first Jewish congregation was established in Montreal. Canada's first synagogue was built in 1768. Purim has been celebrated in Canada since the first congregation was established in Montreal.
Purim is a Jewish festival which celebrates survival in a foreign land or in exile.  It is a one-day festival which takes place four weeks before Passover, either in February or early March.

When the story of Esther is read out loud, groggers are used to drown out the name of the villain in the story.  This man, named Haman, planned to kill all the Jews in ancient Persia.  Esthe Read More
196,000 Jewish immigrants came to Canada between 1880 and 1930.

Prior to this immigration, the founders of the Toronto and Montreal Jewish communities came from other parts of the British Empire. The first Jewish immigrants arrived after the British Empire took possession of New France following the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years War.

Early Jewish Canadians were either fur traders or served in the British Army.  Many were merchants and participated in international and local trade.
  • The first Jewish congregation was established in Montreal.
  • Canada's first synagogue was built in 1768.
  • Purim has been celebrated in Canada since the first congregation was established in Montreal.
Purim is a Jewish festival which celebrates survival in a foreign land or in exile.  It is a one-day festival which takes place four weeks before Passover, either in February or early March.

When the story of Esther is read out loud, groggers are used to drown out the name of the villain in the story.  This man, named Haman, planned to kill all the Jews in ancient Persia.  Esther is the name of the queen who foiled (blocked) Haman’s plans.

Even though the story of Esther is over 2,500 years old, the moral of this story is still very significant.  One of the hallmarks of this Jewish holiday is that Purim is not rooted in the Land of Israel, but in the Diaspora experience – the experience of Jews living outside of Israel.

Purim can also be seen as a universal story of immigrant or refugee survival in a distant land.  This is the happiest holiday in the Jewish calendar and is associated in most people’s minds with costumes, hilarity, food, and fun.  Purim is a day of unrestrained revelry and irreverence.  Each Purim, Jewish people everywhere remember the dangers that they faced in exile and they celebrate the miracle of their existence.

However, before the Second World War, when millions of Jews in Europe were being persecuted, and during the War when they were being exterminated, Canada and other Western countries refused to open their doors.  The Jewish people seeking refuge in Canada were not as fortunate as the people in Esther’s story.  At the time there was no policy here in favour of accepting refugees, and immigration was restricted to British and American citizens.  Regrettably, thousands of Jewish people who were trying to escape to safety were turned away.
  • During the Depression and the Second World War Canada drastically limited immigration.
  • During the Holocaust (the mass killing of Jews and other people in Europe by the Nazis), Canada gave sanctuary to only 5,000 Jews.
  • Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
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© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Wood noisemaker or grogger

Grogger is Yiddish for a noisemaker. In Hebrew such devices are called Ra’ashanim, which means to make a lot of noise. This grogger (also spelled "gregger") probably dates from the late 1800s or early 1900s. It was handmade, either in Toronto or Poland. It was given to the ROM by the Weinberg family. Groggers are used at Purim, The Festival of Lots, during the reading of the story of Esther. Whenever the name of Haman, the villain of the story, is read, it is customary to try to drown it out with noisemakers. The use of groggers is particularly associated with children, and with the service in the synagogue when the text is read. Handmade wooden groggers are indicative of limited financial means, and were fashioned by poor villagers or poor immigrants.

Royal Ontario Museum
Gift of Dr. Fred and Joy Cherry Weinberg
1890 - 1920
2005.32.4
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Wooden noisemaker or grogger

Grogger is Yiddish for a noisemaker. In Hebrew such devices are called Ra’ashanim, which means to make a lot of noise. This grogger (also spelled "gregger") probably dates from the late 1800s or early 1900s. It was handmade, either in Toronto or Poland. It was given to the ROM by the Weinberg family. Groggers are used at Purim, The Festival of Lots, during the reading of the story of Esther. Whenever the name of Haman, the villain of the story, is read, it is customary to try to drown it out with noisemakers. The use of groggers is particularly associated with children, and with the service in the synagogue when the text is read. Handmade wooden groggers are indicative of limited financial means, and were fashioned by poor villagers or poor immigrants.

Royal Ontario Museum
Gift of Dr. Fred and Joy Cherry Weinberg
1890 - 1920
© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Moses Znaimer talks about how Canada is unique because it has been able to learn from the past.

Moses Znaimer was the co-founder and former President and Executive Producer of Citytv. He came to Canada post WWII as a "DP" or displaced person, in 1948. He explains that Canada has a claim on being unique because as a nation we have been able to learn from the past.

I’m aware of a large number of incidents and particularly the most glaring or symbolic of them in which, we, previously, Canada previously, in its previous incarnations did not behave as generously as we do now. And it’s important to recover that history and review it but the big underlying conclusion for me and this is the part that I think gives us a claim on some uniqueness is we were able to change, right? We did have exclusionary immigration, we, we did leave people to the concentration camps, we did charge punitive taxes, we did uproot Asian populations and move them and so on and so forth but apparently we learned. And when you travel and confront those histories in the rest of the world and you see places where they don’t ever learn, you know this is holy ground and ah, and worth preserving.

Royal Ontario Museum
Moses Znaimer, co-founder of Citytv and President of MZMedia

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Moses Znaimer talks about how Canada is unique because it has been able to learn from the past.

I’m aware of a large number of incidents and particularly the most glaring or symbolic of them in which, we, previously, Canada previously, in its previous incarnations did not behave as generously as we do now. And it’s important to recover that history and review it but the big underlying conclusion for me and this is the part that I think gives us a claim on some uniqueness is we were able to change, right? We did have exclusionary immigration, we, we did leave people to the concentration camps, we did charge punitive taxes, we did uproot Asian populations and move them and so on and so forth but apparently we learned. And when you travel and confront those histories in the rest of the world and you see places where they don’t ever learn, you know this is holy ground and ah, and worth preserving.

Royal Ontario Museum
Moses Znaimer, co-founder of Citytv and President of MZMedia

© 2007, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

  • Analyzes how local, national and global influences have helped shape Canada’s history and peoples
  • Assesses the significance of Jewish and Japanese immigration on the development of identities in Canada
  • Analyzes the factors that led to the revisions of Canada's immigration policy

Learning Activity:

War and economic depression brought with them fear and suspicion. The Japanese and Jewish immigrants discussed here are two examples of communities that were discriminated against because of Canada’s paranoia and reluctance to share meager resources. From 1931 to 1941, just 140,000 people were allowed to immigrate to Canada – a huge drop from the more than one million immigrants who arrived during the previous ten years.

But while prejudice influenced immigration for much of this period, there were also strong forces working to make Canada’s immigration policy more open. In 1945, Liberal Cabinet Minister Paul Martin Sr. introduced a bill in Parliament that would create a separate Canadian citizenship – previously, Canadians were considered British subjects – and would extend this citizenship more fairly.

Our “new Canadians” bring to this country much that is rich and good, and in Canada they find a new way of life and new hope for the future. They should all be made to feel that they, like the rest of us, are Canadians, citizens of a great country, guardians of proud traditions and trustees of all that is best in life for generations of Canadians yet to be.
- spoken by Paul Martin Sr. in the House of Commons, October 22, 1945

Martin’s bill led to The Canadian Citizenship Act, which ushered in a new wave of immigration. Research this Act and make a list of the changes that it introduced. How do you think these changes helped shape our country’s identity today?


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