From Cold War to Present Day


A Vital Factor – The Militia

One last factor that deserves mention is the still vital presence of the militia or reserve element in the concept of defence. It was clearly more important in relative numbers and influence in 1871 than it is in 2000. Until 1939 it was officered by a small permanent army. During the Second World War a postwar planning committee of senior officials chaired by Norman Robertson decided to reverse that situation. Hence-forth - though it took a good 30 years to fully establish the new system-the reserves would merely support a larger professional army, better equipped and busier than the prewar model. Perhaps the following historical testimony about the reality of annual militia training is indeed accurate: "Officers and soldiers considered these training camps in Lévis as elsewhere as something pleasant, a recreation or kind of sport, or else a chance to get together with people from the same community that reflected our gregarious mentality, but never could these experiences have been viewed as effective enough in the event war was declared." 93

When the recommendations of the latest study on the reserves have been fully implemented, the reservists, gathered in a smaller number of units, will have a role equal to their potential and will operate under the conditions they deserve - perhaps even with the reservist/professional relationship rebalanced in their favour. In short, the "contract" in force as these lines are written between the small Canadian population living in an immense territory with no near enemies and its professional and reserve defence forces will hold for several decades, unless the international situation undergoes sudden and drastic changes.

At the heart of our historical considerations are the young Canadians who are ready, now as always, to commit their lives to a great cause. They are respectfully saluted in these pages.