VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > D. North America, 1915–1945 > 2. The Dominion of Canada
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See Aug. 4)
2. The Dominion of Canada
As in the U.S., the interwar years accelerated the urban industrial transformation of Canadian society. Mobilization of resources to address the demands of World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II all increased the role of the government in Canadian life. In 1931 Canada broke its ties to imperial Great Britain and gained an independent place in the new commonwealth. The emergence of Canada as a significant world power during these years, however, was fraught with difficulties. Before the nation could consolidate its position as an independent actor in world affairs, it came increasingly under the influence of the U.S. As early as the 1920s, American companies like Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors dominated the Canadian automobile industry, which produced the second largest number of cars during the period and became a major exporter. The depression and two world wars also revealed the persistence of deep regional, class, and cultural divisions within the nation. During both world wars, Anglo-Canadians imposed conscription policies, which French Canadians fiercely resisted. Despite the enfranchisement of women and the increasing democratization of the Canadian polity during the period, women remained subordinated to men in the political economy; workers faced hostile opposition to their efforts to organize until government recognition of their right to collective bargaining occurred in 1944; and ethnic and racial groups faced stiff patterns of antagonism, including the rise of Canadian chapters of the American-based Ku Klux Klan during the 1920s and the removal of Japanese Canadians from the west coast to designated inland areas during World War II.  1
Nationalization of the Canadian Northern Railway forced by fear of imminent failure and a collapse of national credit. The Grand Trunk Railway was nationalized in 1920. The government operated about 23,000 miles of railway representing a capital investment of $1,652,000,000, known as Canadian National Railways. Gradual coordination of lines occurred. Sir Henry Thornton appointed in 1922 as the nonpolitical head of the system.  2
Aug. 4
Entrance of Great Britain into the First World War. Message of Canada to the mother country: “If unhappily war should ensue, the Canadian people will be united…to maintain the honor of the empire” (Aug. 2). Special session of Parliament called (Aug. 18) and a war budget voted. Thirty thousand volunteers embarked for England by the end of September.  3
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.