Canadian Autonomy

The Fight for Freedom Neham Marwah CHC2D1 Ms. Ballantyne January 15 2011 Some may ask themselves, to what extent has the 20th century contributed to Canada’s autonomy? Canadian autonomy came as a result of the events that occurred within the 20th century. Without these vital events they would have never gained full independence from Britain to become their own nation. The main events that influenced their autonomy are their brave and fearless fighting in WWI, their mid-war self-success and great contributions in WWII and the great assistance Canada served nations post war.
Canada showed bravery and fearlessness to new challenges in the First World War that proved that Canadians were able to walk on their own. Canada was new to the war life, and although they only participated because of their attachment to Britain they participated with full force. Citizens all around Canada joined to serve in WWI, ready to fight for their nation. The first battle Canadian soldiers took part in was Ypres in 1915 and they joined the French-Algerian troops in this battle. (Newman, 105) The position of the Canadian troops was surrounded by German trenches, which made them an easier target. Newman, 105) Little did the Canadians know that the Germans were about to release a treacherous weapon for the first time in history—chlorine gas. (Newman, 105) The Canadians were taken by surprise, but French officials had been warned prior to the attack, but they failed to instruct the Canadians about this new weapon or any method of defending themselves against it. (Newman, 106)
The French-Algerians saw the gas and ran leaving an open space in their formation for Germans to penetrate through. (Newman, 106) Canadians were hit with the chlorine gas, but they held their position unlike their allies. Newman, 106) They waited three days under harsh attack, until British reinforcements came to relieve them. (Newman, 106) Canadians came out of the battle with injuries and lost members but they were recognized as strong and courageous fighters. (Newman, 106) Ypres may have been the first battle Canadians fought in, but The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the one that really changed the outlook on Canadians. German soldiers were confident that no one would take over Vimy Ridge, and they had an advantage as they were on a hill that had a great view of the whole field, this made hiding difficult for the Canadian soldiers. Newman, 117)

Canadians corps fought alone in this battle, under the command of British general Julian Byng. (Newman, 119) Under Byng’s command was Canadian born Major-General Arthur Currie was the commander of the First Canadian Division; they decided to use a technique called “the creeping barrage. ” (Newman, 119) The plan devised by Currie was very well thought out and the hard work and dedication of the Canadian soldiers helped them win the battle. (Newman, 119) Although Canadians number had been cut by 3500, (Newman, 119) by the end of the battle they held their heads high.
This attack showed everyone that Canadians were capable of coming up with a successful battle plan and able to carry out their instructions and achieve the task at hand. Arthur Currie became the commander of the Canadian corps, (Newman, 119) eliminating the involvement of British officers in the Canadian army. It was a huge step for Canadians to finally have something that was completely theirs; they were no longer being pushed around and told what to do by British officers. Throughout the war, August 8 through to November 11 became known as “Canada’s 100 Day” because of their success within the time period.
As WWI was coming to a close, Lloyd George invited Robert Borden to the Paris Peace Conference to represent Britain. (Newman, 128) Borden rejected his offer and insisted that after all of Canada’s sacrifice in the war, they should earn their own seat, as an independent country. (Newman, 128) Canada suffered many casualties in the war that led to their first step to independence. They were running their own, strong army, and they were doing it well, without the help of Britain. All of their fight, and dedication through the war process showed nations around them, their ability to take charge of a situation, and get through a hassle.
In the mid-war years Canada showed its ability to become a self dependent nation and survive without collaborating with the nations around it. Canadian contributions in WWII were not obvious, but were definitely there. Canada showed its potential as an independent country that can survive through tough situations staying intact. Very few countries were hit by the consequences of the depression as hard as Canada; 1 in 5 Canadians became dependant on the government for survival. (Canadian Encyclopaedia, Web) Canada was seriously affected by the collapse in world rade; 33% of its national income came from exporting resources, and because of the depression other countries would not buy. (Canadian Encyclopaedia, Web) Canadian goods had dropped to an extreme low which led to many people becoming homeless and being unable to support their families. There were very few people who had jobs, so when WWII started, munitions factories were being re-opened and there were more jobs that brought Canada out of poverty. Canada started over and built its economy from the ground up, making it stronger than its previous structure.
It was wartime yet again, but this time Canada knew the consequences, it joined WWII in its own right and not to accompany Britain. Canadian corps was ordered to capture Ortona, which became known as one of the best battles fought by Canada. (Marwah, Battles Notes)The Germans defending Ortona were very strong fighters and were rewarded for their previous battles, and they also had the advantage of being entrenched in the hills. (Marwah, Battles Notes) Canadian corps took Ortona house by house and within one week they had it captured. The capture of Ortona helped the allies take over Rome, without which they could have never won the war. Marwah, Battles Notes) After this success, Canadians got the difficult task of liberating the Netherlands. The Dutch were facing starvation as they were being controlled and used for slave labour by Nazi’s under Hitler’s command. (Marwah, Battles Notes) Canadians struggled with their task to kill the Nazi’s, and after months of hard labour, they had finally freed the Dutch. The Netherlands were, are, and always will be grateful for the assistance of the Canadian troops and their struggle to fight for Dutch freedom. Canadians continued their assistance in D-Day.
There were 5 divisions called in to land along an 80 km form, and Canadians were the 3rd division and got Juno Beach. (Marwah, Battles Notes) They defeated the defending Germans and moved farther inland than any other allied troops. (Marwah, Battles Notes) The casualties they suffered in this battle were much fewer than they had feared. (Marwah, Battles Notes) Canadians succeeded in many aspects of WWII, but they did not win all of their battles. When 50,000 Japanese soldiers sprung out to attack Hong Kong, (Marwah, Battles Notes) Canadians were ordered to come to their defence. 0% of the Canadian soldiers had never shot a gun in their practice and very unready for this battle. (Marwah, Battles Notes) The total number of their defence force was a mere 14000 men, they did not have air protection and Canada itself was outnumbered 10-1. (Marwah, Battles Notes) When Hong Kong surrendered every Canadian was either killed or captured and used as slaves to build. (Marwah, Battles Notes) The ability to find strength within your own home is difficult, but when Canada was put through the test they passed without a problem.
Canada contributed many forms of success in WWII, but there were sacrifices that came with their glory. Canadians put their selves in danger to protect others, and their protection has made them accepted in many parts of the world. Canada became known for its separate achievements, and not the ones that attached it to Britain. WWII had ended, but the rein of Canadian contributions continued to pour in far after their assistance in the World Wars. The Cold War was beginning and the United States and United Nations were working on creating the atomic bomb, (Newman, 244) trying to keep up with the Soviet Union’s advancements in weaponry.
They were having difficulty coming across a substance without which the bomb could not be made—uranium. (Newman, 244) It just so happened that all of the uranium refineries were under the Nazi control, all except one located in Canada. Canada provided the UN and US the uranium to build the atomic bomb and provided a safe-working environment away from battlefields. (Newman, 244) Canada participated on its own, and while working with the UN and US, was looked at as an equal. Canada was a huge factor in the reason US won the cold war, although Canada is not the most powerful nation in the world, they assisted in getting their partners to glory.
Canada’s involvement in the production of the atomic bomb got them in tussles further into the future. Russian, Igor Gouzenko worked in the Soviet Union embassy in Ottawa and he announced that there were Russian spies located in Canada, US, and the UN trying to find information about their production of the atomic bomb. (Marwah, Cold War Notes) An organization called NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created and Canada, along with Britain, France and 8 other countries were taking part in it. Each of the countries who are involved in the organization must send army, navy, air force units to a new NATO defence force. Marwah, Cold War Notes) They put together their militaries together to make a sort of super army; it was made to intimidate the Soviet Union from taking over Western Europe. (Marwah, Cold War Notes) Canada was able to recruit the biggest intimidation towards the Soviet Union—the United States. (Marwah, Cold War Notes) Canada was seen on a world-scale when they got the US to join NATO; (Marwah, Cold War Notes) the fact that they recruited the most powerful country in the world really had everyone appreciate their effort and dedication.
When the United States turned to Canada for help with the creation of NORAD, Canadians rose to the occasion. (Marwah, Cold War Notes) US was quite frightened of the SU’s ability to drop nuclear bombs on North America, so they had Canada help them develop a system that could warn them of enemy air bombing planes. (Marwah, Cold War Notes) Nations around the world looked and saw the US look to Canada for assistance, and support. Canada became known for their own successes and not their achievements with Britain.
Canada’s contributions post war helped them become recognized as an independent nation; for the reason that most of their achievements were separated from Britain, the 2 countries were not interconnected. The events in the 20th century contributed to Canadian autonomy and independence in numerous ways like their brave and fearless fighting in WWI, their mid-war self-success and great contributions in WWII and the great assistance Canada served nations post war. Canada fought courageously in its first world war. They held their positions when hit with the first gas attack in history, while their allies fled to protect their own lives.
In the battle of Vimy Ridge they won their fight when no other allies could, and they were able to lead their own army, a huge step towards their independence. They contributed great successes in WWII; they became heroes around the world, endangering themselves to free the Netherlands. They assisted the most powerful nation in the world and led them to success and prosperity in the cold war. Although Canada was in the background, their presence was noticed. They were the backbone of every success and triumph made in the 20th century.
They made their mark wherever they could, the mark representing their independent nation— Canada. Works Cited “Canada Flag. ” Photograph. Pastyme With Good Companye. 15 Feb 2008. Web. 15 Jan 2011. Hillmer, Norman. “Statute of Westminster. ” The Canadian Encyclopaedia. James Marsh . Web. 14 Jan2011. Marwah, Neham. “Battles of World War 2. ” 26 Nov 2010. Class Notes. Marwah, Neham. “Cold War Events. ” 02 Jan 2011. Class Notes. Newman, Garfield. Canada: A Nation Unfolding. Toronto: McGraw, 2000. Print. Struthers, James. “The Great Depression. ” The Canadian Encyclopaedia. James Marsh . Web. 14 Jan 2011.

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