Threats Internal and External

Venezuela and Canada

Canada's membership in the British Empire could have further repercussions. So it was with the dispute that arose in 1895 between Britain and Venezuela over the boundaries of British Guiana. President Grover Cleveland of the United States seemed inclined to come to Venezuelas defence against Britain. Pushed to the limit in this matter, Britain might well have decided to go to war against the Venezuelans. For Canada, the prospect meant potential confrontation with the United States, which in turn could possibly be tempted to invade this corner of the British Empire.

The Canadian government reacted immediately to this possibility by investing $3 million in rearmament. The single-shot Snider rifles were replaced by 40,000 Lee Enfield .303 repeaters. A few modern machine guns were purchased and artillery was refurbished.

Although this crisis had no violent outcome, it did prompt the authorities to act out of panic. A poor advisor in the area of crisis management and administration of a country's military affairs, panic would be heard from on several more occasions.

In 1897, for the first time since 1876, an annual training period was made compulsory for all volunteer regiments. The year 1896 had seen the publication of the first mobilization plans for the Canadian forces in the event of war. The militia was organized into divisions, brigades, detachments and so on, and each unit was assigned a mobilization centre. The composition of units was kept secret and headquarters had to be designated at the last possible moment, which easily could have caused confusion in an emergency. This initial plan, despite its foibles, is notable for the mere fact of its existence.