From One World War to Another (1919-43)

Canada’s Military between the Wars

Canadian Mobilization

Having declared war on Germany, Canada joined in "the phoney war." Camp Valcartier was reactivated and, unlike the situation in 1914-18, would operate year-round as the mobilization and training centre for the units of the 5th Military District and as a training centre for infantry generally. Between 1933 and 1936, through a relief programme for the jobless, its infrastructures had been greatly improved. Between 1939 and 1946 numerous "temporary" buildings would be erected - many of them to last more than 30 years.

With the disaster of Dunkirk in June 1940, Canada passed the National Resources Mobilization Act, which, among other things, called for 98,000 conscripts for territorial defence. On the overseas front, the 1939 decision to use only volunteers was upheld, but it must be stressed that 64,000 of those conscripts would volunteer for combat, more than 58,000 of them in the army.

Between 1939 and 1945 more than a million Canadian men and women, or one adult in 12, would don a uniform. During the six years of war 41 percent of men aged 18 to 45 served in the Canadian armed forces in some capacity. Germany's defeat left Canada the world's fourth military power, after the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom. In some fields, such as various types of merchant vessels and synthetic rubber, Canadian production was proportionately greater than that of the U.S. This large-scale military commitment resonates to this day. Canada still has approximately 400,000 living veterans, the vast majority of them, including tens of thousands of disabled, having served in the Second World War. In 1994 one Canadian in three over the age of 65 was a war veteran.