From One World War to Another (1919-43)

A Return to Civilian Life

Inflation and Unemployment

The veterans did seek change, yet they were divided on all of the great social, political and economic debates of the day. The spirit of the Canadian Army Corps foundered on the harsh reality of the home front: inflation and unemployment. Growing increasingly more urban, with a working class that had swelled enormously between 1914 and 1919, the country was ill-prepared for the required conversion of its war industries. Many armaments factories simply closed their doors. In economic circumstances that would persist until the period 1924-30, and in a society that was becoming increasingly hardened, only the most desperate of the demobilized men would be helped to find work.

A political fissure had appeared with the Conscription Act of 1917, followed by a rigged election that left the Union government on its last legs. Many political administrations would not survive the war. Military management, never the strong point of post-Confederation Canada, was not going to suddenly improve with the return of the troops. When Arthur Meighen replaced Robert Borden as prime minister, he merely took up the problems where Borden had left off. Mackenzie King would take the same route. The veterans, however, through demonstrations and other means of applying pressure, would slowly see their lot improve. Their demands would serve their successors well.