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.
Royal Ontario Museum
Historical Advisors: Alison Faulknor, The Dominion Institute; Nick Brune, author and history teacher

© 2006, Royal Ontario Museum. All Rights Reserved.

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