Canada has had war veterans since 1759 when 6 militia battalions took part in the unsuccessful defence of Québec. The brunt of the fighting in the WAR OF 1812 was done by British regulars, but Canadian militiamen were employed, as they were later in the 1837 uprisings in Lower and Upper Canada (see REBELLIONS OF 1837) and in the FENIAN raids on Canada in 1864, 1866 and 1870. The militia of the Northwest Field Force fought against Louis RIEL in the 1885 NORTH-WEST REBELLION - a widow of a force member was still receiving a pension in 1987 - and Canada contributed voyageurs to the NILE EXPEDITION in 1885 and contingents to the SOUTH AFRICAN WAR of 1899-1902. Canada was heavily engaged in the 2 world wars and sent land, sea and air contingents to the KOREAN WAR 1950-53 for United Nations action.
A favourite method of rewarding veterans in Canada has been the land grant, or scrip. Veterans of the Fenian raids were given 160-acre grants on the Canadian prairies. In 1931, 160 surviving members of the North-West Mounted Police who had served in the 1885 Northwest Field Force were awarded $300 each in lieu of scrip to which they had been entitled but had never received.
Canada expends nearly $1.5 billion a year in war pensions, mainly for survivors' disabilities. The number of veterans in Canada was about 708 000 in 1987, of whom 32 300 are women and about 11 000 merchant seamen. The veteran population is expected to decline to 206 000 by the turn of the century and to fewer than 200 by 2031, barring future wars. At 1 June 1987, the average age of surviving WWI veterans was 90 and of WWII veterans 67. Recipients of allowances for "burned-out" veterans included 2 from the S African War, 1989 from WWI, 45 522 from WWII and 2354 from the Korean War. Total number of recipients of these allowances was 83 872, including widows and orphans. Another 142 167, including dependants, were receiving pensions for war disabilities. Of these, more than 95 000 were veterans, or nearly 1 in 7 for all surviving veterans.
The first and second world wars came so close together that veterans of the first recognized what had gone wrong with rehabilitation plans for them (financing for soldier settlement on farms was niggardly) and corrected them for veterans of the second. Nearly all legislative proposals, including the 1943 suggestion for creation of a veterans affairs department, came from veterans themselves. It helped that scores of MPs, including those in the Cabinet, were veterans. As a result, 50 000 WWII veterans attended university, while 96,000 other veterans received benefits for farming, fishing, small holdings and businesses, and housing.
Chief veterans' advocate is the ROYAL CANADIAN LEGION, founded in 1926 through amalgamation of 10 veterans' groups, 50 independent regimental societies and 790 other units, 20 000 members in all. Today the legion numbers more than 600 000 in 1800 branches, having replenished its ranks by taking in spouses, sons and daughters, and associate members. In its early days, the legion was the spur for veterans' legislation and a leading voice for national public broadcasting, Canadian film, Canadian history textbooks and public housing. It has always looked after its own, especially in hard times, but now assists a much wider community as the biggest service organization in Canada.
Author DAVE MCINTOSH
Links to Other Sites
Canadian War Museum
The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa is dedicated to the men and women who served with valour and distinction in Canada’s armed services. Their website features a virtual tour of the museum and multimedia online exhibits that depict how Canada met and overcame wartime challenges throughout its history.
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
THE MEMORY PROJECT
The website for The Memory Project, a major initiative dedicated to recording and preserving Canadian veterans' first-hand accounts of their military service during the Second World War and Korean War. Click on "The Memory Project Link" to access this remarkable online collection to hear interviews with individual veterans from all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces. See also related digitized artefacts and memorabilia. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
The War Amps
The War Amps website commemorates Canada's proud military heritage and the sacrifices of Canadian war veterans. Check out the "Canada's Military Heritage" section for extensive documentation, photographs and veterans’ accounts of their wartime experiences. Features a special section devoted to the 60th Anniversary of D-Day.
John McCrae's War: In Flanders Fields
A review of the documentary film "John McCrae's War: In Flanders Fields." From the Manitoba Library Association.
Remembrances: Canada and the Second World War
Click on the buttons on each page to access digitized archival material related to the war effort at home and on the battlefield. Also, check out the glossary of military terms. From the Royal Canadian Legion and the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Canada At War
View a timeline of major Canadian military operations from the South African War to the present. From Veterans Affairs Canada.
Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917 – 1918
A brief video clip of Author Tim Cook talking about his book "Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1917 – 1918." From the website for the Charles Taylor Prize.
The Canadian Letters and Images Project
This extensive collection of letters and photographs brings to light personal stories about wartime life at home and on the battlefield. Produced by Malaspina University College in British Columbia.
CBC: Vimy Ridge Remembered
A multimedia CBC feature devoted to the stories of Canadian veterans who fought on the front lines at Vimy Ridge in the First World War.
Korea Veterans Association Of Canada
The website for the Korea Veterans Association Of Canada, an organization comprised primarily of members who served in the Canadian Armed Forces (Navy, Army, Air Force) in Korea during the 1950-1953 war and on peacekeeping duties in Korea from 1953 to 1955.
Canadian Virtual War Memorial
Search this online registry of information about the graves and memorials of more than 116,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who gave their lives for their country. From Veterans Affairs Canada.
A tribute to the combatants in the First World War, this film traces the conflict through the war diary and private letters of five Canadian soldiers and a nurse. From the website for the National Film Board of Canada.
Search the Legion Magazine website for online feature articles about Canadian military history.
Canada at War
A very detailed information source about Canadian military activity in the First World War and the Second World War. Also features an extensive database of Canadian soldiers who died in battle.
Library and Archives Canada: Military and Peacekeeping
Check out the online exhibits about the history of Canadian military and peacekeeping operations featured at the website for Library and Archives Canada. View paintings by Canada's great war artists, gripping photographs of war on the frontlines, war diaries and stories, multimedia, and much more.
Through a Lens: Dieppe in Photography and Film
The horrors of war are clearly depicted in this collection of old photographs and newsreels about the disastrous Allied raid on Dieppe in the Second World War. From Library and Archives Canada.
Canadian Military History Gateway
Search this website for authoritative information about Canadian military history. Provides links to websites for Canadian museums, libraries, archives, and other heritage organizations. Also features an online glossary of military terminology, educational resources and much more. From the Department of National Defence.
Canadian Forces: Glossary
A glossary of military terminology used in the Canadian Forces. From the forces.ca website.
From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History
An extensive online bibliography concerning Canadian military history. From Library and Archives Canada.
Testaments of Honour Historical Archives
Stunning photographs complement this digital video archive of personal recollections from Canadian veterans who fought in the Second World War. This Blake Heathcote project has been supported by the Canadian Studies Program, Canadian Heritage, and many other organizations. Note: some videos on this site may be inactive.
An Archival Look at the First World War
Peruse soldiers' letters to their girlfriends and other fascinating archival material about Canada's war effort at home and overseas. From Queen's University Archives.
Canadian Military Journal
The online edition of the "Canadian Military Journal." Many articles about contemporary military issues, compelling history features, book reviews, and much more.
Return to Ortona
View a video about Canada's role in the Italian Campaign during the Second World War. Features veterans’ personal recollections and fascinating audio clips of on-the-scene reports by CBC war correspondent Mathew Halton.
UBC Hall of Remembrance
This website is dedicated to the 1951 opening of the Hall of Remembrance at the UBC War Memorial Gymnasium and to the late Major-General B.M. Hoffmeister.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
This Veterans Affairs Canada website is dedicated to John McCrae, a doctor and teacher, who served in both the South African War and the First World War. Includes the text of his famous poem "In Flanders Fields."
Poppy & Remembrance
This educators guide from the Royal Canadian Legion is dedicated to teaching and learning about the "tradition of remembrance." Offers an overview of wartime history, statistics, photographs, poetry, and much more.
In Flanders Fields
An information site for "In Flanders Fields," an award-winning documentary film about Canadian military action at Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele during the First World War. Click on the link at the top of the page to read an online copy of the full film script. From The War Amps.
The "Legion's Legacies" website is dedicated to the memory of Canadian war veterans. Features a growing online collection of stories, pictures, songs, videos, and educational resources.
Guns and Butter: World War I and the Canadian Economy
An academic paper that provides interesting details about the impact of the First World War on various sectors of the Canadian economy. From Trent University.
The Soldier Artist and Poet
View letters, paintings, poems, and other archival material created by military personnel serving in conflict zones around the world. From the virtual exhibit "Peace and War in the 20th Century," McMaster University Libraries.
70th anniversary of Dieppe raid
Watch a CTV News story about Canadian veterans who travelled to France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe raid. Includes archival footage of the battle's aftermath.
The website for the "1918 Vigil" developed by R.H. Thomson and Martin Conboy in memory of the losses that the families of all First World War veterans suffered.
East and West Memorial Buildings
Information about East and West Memorial Buildings and the Memorial Arch which connects the two Ottawa landmarks. From Veterans Affairs Canada.
Canada's last known First World War veteran dies at 109
Watch a CTV News video about the passing of John Babcock, Canada's last known First World War veteran. Includes an interview with Tim Cook, curator at the Canadian War Museum.
Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada Association
Check out the website for Canada's oldest veterans', ex-service persons' and community service organization.
The Oddfellows' Decoration Day
See an 1891 news account of the "The Oddfellows' Decoration Day" observance from the Port Hope Weekly Times. From porthopehistory.com.
Decoration Day Parade, June 1932 (Winnipeg)
See a photograph of the 1932 Decoration Day Parade in Winnipeg. From flickr.com.
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