3 The Blood Tax: Prime Minister Robert Borden and the Conscription Crisis of the First World War

Stephen Lylyk


The First World War, was a conflict fought from 1914-1918. It was a horrific time in the history of Canada as the war “produced unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction.”[1]  Actions taken during the war would prove Canada’s valour, and help create an improved position within the “British Commonwealth.”[2] The man who led the country through this period in history was Prime Minister Robert Borden. While Canada did their part in the war effort, policies undertaken by Borden would result in furthering an existing division between French and English Canadians.[3] Feelings of anger and resentment linger within Quebec to the present.

Robert Laird Borden was born in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia on 26 June 1854.[4] His father, Andrew, “had a substantial farm, but neglected it to dabble in business affairs.”[5] Borden’s mother, Eunice, was an influential figure in her sons life.[6] In one of Borden’s later writings, he stated his admiration of her, “very strong character, remarkable energy, and high ambition.”[7] Eunice’s ambition was a trait that rubbed off on her son as he, “applied himself to his studies, while [also] assisting his parents with the farm.”[8] Growing up, Borden was a bright student at the local private academy “Acacia Villa School.” He specialized in Classical studies, specifically “Greek and Latin. His instructor James Henry Hamilton, soon had [Borden] studying Hebrew.” When Hamilton left the school for a new opportunity, Borden found himself in a unique position, as at “age 14 [he] [was] promoted to assistant master, specializing in classical studies.”[9] Borden enjoyed his work as a teacher, however he would eventually conclude that “law was a better profession for him than teaching.”[10] At the age of 20 in 1874, he, “resigned his post to become an articled law clerk [at] Weatherbe & Graham, one of the leading law firms in Halifax.” By 1877, Borden would sit alongside, “23 other students for the provincial Bar examinations.” He would top the class, but still had to complete “a year of apprenticeship before admittance to the bar.” His law career began following a year at the School of Military Instruction in Halifax[11]. During his tenure as a lawyer, Borden formed a relationship with future Conservative Prime Minister Charles Tupper.[12] On 27 April 1896, it was Tupper who presented an idea to Borden that he should run for Member of Parliament in Halifax. Borden agreed, as he believed that “political life was a responsibility that successful men should take on for the public good.”[13]

Borden the Politician

Borden would take on a more “prominent role in the conservative party, and was becoming an emerging figure within it.”[14] Following the Conservative Party’s defeat in the 1900 election, Tupper stepped down as leader of the opposition, declaring that it was “time to make way for a younger man.”[15]  On 6 February, 1901,[16] Borden would take on the role, as Conservative Party leader, as “nobody else could match Borden in intellectual gifts and parliamentary skill.”[17] Initially, Borden was resistant to the responsibility he was offered. As he would explain, “I have not either the experience or the qualifications which would enable me to lead the party successfully. It would be an absurdity for the party and madness for me.”[18] As the new Party Leader, Borden led a Conservative party in “desperate need of change.” The issue, as historian Tim Cook explains, was that the “Liberal Party seemed unstoppable. The economy was booming, and immigrants flooded into the country.” Borden’s ability to oust Laurier was put into question following defeats in 1904 and 1908. Borden attempted to sway the Canadian public to vote Conservative, “However his pleas of duty could not match the experienced, charismatic and lyrical Laurier.”[19]

By 1911, the situation had changed for Borden and the Conservatives.[20] The 1911 Reciprocity agreement was controversial in Canada. Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier negotiated the agreement with American President William Howard Taft and a deal was reached on January 26, 1911. Laurier believed that free trade with the United States would “allow manufacturers and farmers to increase their production and sell their commodities to [Canada’s] neighbours.”[21]  As discussion on the bill shifted to the House of Commons, support for it began to wane. Debate amongst the country was divided on the issue. Canadian Railway companies were against the agreement, as they believed “Reciprocity would shift trade to a north-south pattern. This would break down the east-west trade routes the railways built up.” Western Grain farmers were amongst those in favour of reciprocity as they “believed freer trade with the United States would open up new markets and reduce transportation costs.”[22] Amongst the rhetoric there were those who rejected the agreement, fearing it would, “lead to annexation,”[23]  Borden made his position clear regarding reciprocity in a 1911 Election Gathering in Winnipeg. There he explained, “I am absolutely opposed to reciprocity and if the West was prepared to make me Prime Minister tomorrow, if I would support that policy, I would not do it.” To Borden, reciprocity would, “not only weaken Canadian industry, and the Dominion’s economy as a whole, it would lead to American annexation and the loss of a whole way of life.”[24] The future of Canada hinged on the 1911 election. As a 21 September Toronto World headline explained, “Which will it be? Borden and King George, or Laurier and President Taft?” The Americans did their part to help “inflame Canadian fears of reciprocity.” House of Representatives member William Bennet would “introduce a resolution that the United States should begin talks with Britain on how to annex Canada.”[25]

After 15 years as prime minister 1911 marked the end of Laurier’s leadership as the Conservative Party was swept back into power.[26] They would win 133 seats compared to the Liberal Party’s 86,[27] Scholars believed that 1911 “entrenched Canada’s loyalty to the British Empire, and a view that it must remain independent of the United States.” As Prime Minister Borden explained, “We must decide, if the spirit of Canadianism or continentalism shall prevail on the northern half of the continent.”[28]

Borden and the Naval Aid Bill

Borden believed, it was the duty of Canadians to best assist the needs of the British Empire. In the event of conflict, he stated that “So long as Canada remains in the Empire, Canada is at war when the British Empire is at war.” His belief was that Canada was “either in the empire for weal or woe, or we are out of it.”[29] Borden believed that it was Canada’s responsibility to support the Empire when in need.[30] He proclaimed that, “If the British Navy stood in need of immediate aid, that aid would be forthcoming.” Borden expanded on this viewpoint in the House of Commons where he stated;

“When Great Britain no longer assumes sole responsibility for defence upon the high seas, she can no longer undertake, to assume sole responsibility for and control of foreign policy, which is closely vitally, and constantly associated with that defence in which the dominions participate.”[31]

One of Borden’s first acts in Parliament was the 1912 Naval Aid Bill. The impetus for the bill came after Borden’s visits to England to attend the “Imperial Conference in December 1912.”[32] The legislation called for a contribution for “$35 million to the British gov’t for the construction of three Royal Navy Dreadnoughts.” From Borden’s perspective, the bill was a necessity, noting that “the situation is sufficiently grave to demand immediate action.”[33] In a House of Commons speech, delivered on 5 December 1912, Borden declared:

“Any action on the part of Canada to increase the power and mobility of the Imperial Navy, and thus widen the margin of our common safety, would be recognized everywhere as a most significant witness to the united strength of the Empire, and to the renewed resolve of the Overseas Dominions to take their part in maintaining its integrity.”[34]

The debate met fierce opposition from the Liberals, who were angered by Borden’s actions, cancelling Laurier’s “1911 plan to build a Canadian navy.”[35] Debates on Borden’s Naval Aid Bill bogged down in Parliament. On one such occasion, Borden wrote in his memoirs, “Our men [were] angry at the end, and both sides wanted a physical conflict.”[36] The bill was debated for months in the House of Commons,[37] and would get defeated in a Liberal-controlled senate by a determined Liberal party “enraged by the government’s use of closure.”[38]

Borden and the First World War

On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Britain’s decision to join the conflict would “automatically bring Canada into the war, because of Canada’s legal status as a dominion, subservient to Britain. However, the Canadian Government had the freedom to determine the country’s level of involvement in the war.”[39] The Canadian Government was unprepared for the war, “as the only member of the Cabinet with any military experience was Sam Hughes.”[40] Hughes was viewed as “charming, somewhat vain, and colourful, with an extremely strong belief in the imperial connection with England.” Borden trusted Hughes as when he was elected in 1911 “he made Hughes his Minister of Militia and Defense.” With this title, Hughes was given the responsibility to “create his dream army to be used in the case of war.” Following Borden’s 1914 announcement that “Canada would be sending a force to Europe, Hughes set to work on mobilizing the troops.”[41] He would intentionally ignore a plan drawn up in “1911… and chose to create the Canadian Expeditionary Force, made up of numbered battalions separate from the militia.”[42] Through these efforts a “contingent of 33,000 men, and 7000 horses embarked for Europe.”[43] The legacy of Hughes would take a negative turn as due to a list of scandals, from “Favouritism, disrespect of Cabinet, and administrative incompetence,” Borden fired Hughes in November 2016.[44]

On 19 August 1914, Borden explained in a speech to the House of Commons, that it was the duty of Canada to, “stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and the other dominions in this quarrel. And [in] [this] duty, we shall not fail to fulfill as the honour of Canada demands it. Not for love of battle, but for the cause of honour.”[45] He further emphasized that it was all Canadians who should share the “burden of war,” in an 18 May 1917 House of Commons speech. In that speech he said, “I cannot too strongly emphasize my belief that a great effort still lies before the Allied nations if we are going to win this war.”[46]

Borden and the Question of Compulsory Service

When war first broke out, Borden made sure to state that there would be no conscription implemented in Canada.[47] As he stated in an address at the Halifax Canadian Club,[48] “There will not be compulsion or conscription.”[49] However Borden made it clear that he was willing to enforce it if the situation demanded. In a 1916 address Borden stated that, “…if [conscription] should prove the only effective method to preserve the existence of the state and liberties we enjoy, I should not hesitate to act accordingly.”[50]

A Canadian Battalion in a Bayonet Charge on the Somme (I0004777).JPG.” Accessed May 3, 2023. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_Canadian_Battalion_in_a_bayonet_charge_on_the_Somme_(I0004777.jpg.[/footnote]

As the war continued, many Canadian soldiers lost their lives. An estimated “130,000 Canadians were either killed or wounded in battles at Vimy Ridge and the Somme.”[51] The deaths were mounting at a time when voluntary enlistment had nearly dried up.  It was on a visit to France in the spring of 1917 where “Borden was shocked by the enormity of the conflict. He [became] determined that Canada should play a significant role in the war.”[52] As he would write in his memoirs:

“I had kept closely in touch with conditions in Canada, and greatly to my disappointment, I was obliged to conclude that any further effort for voluntary enlistment would provide very meager and inadequate results. Upon my return to Canada, a quick decision was necessary Four days after my arrival I announced that compulsory military service was necessary.”[53]

Borden introduced the Military Service Act on 29 August 1917, making all “male citizens aged 20 to 45 eligible for conscription for military service.” The Act initially included “Status Indians and Metis men between the ages of 20-45… However, some First Nations leaders challenged it on the grounds that it violated treaties between the Crown and Indigenous peoples… Indigenous peoples were thus exempted from the Act in January 1918.”[54] Canadian farmers also expressed their concerns regarding the Act. They believed “conscription would create a shortage of agricultural labor at a time when they were hard pressed to meet the demands of wartime consumption.”[55] The farmers would “push the Borden government to acknowledge their important work by exempting their sons from conscription. Borden’s government initially would comply but ended the exemption in April 1918 with continuing casualties overseas, and recruitment shortages at home.”[56] The Military Service Act was popular amongst English-speaking Canadians. This was due to their general “support of the war because they believed that Canada had to keep fighting until victory.”[57] However, in French-speaking areas, Borden’s conscription laws faced significant opposition.[58]

Borden and Tension between English and French Canadians

Canada’s bilingual status of French and English has, since the countries inception, been “at the heart of the Canadian identity.”[59] Lord Durham, (former Governor General of British North America)[60] in his 1838 Durham report,[61] compared, French and English Canada to “two nations warring in the bosom of a single state.”[62] Further developments only served to heighten that sense of fear, as in 1912, the province of Ontario passed “Regulation 17.” This law resulted in the teaching of the French language being limited in Ontario to the “first two years of elementary school.”[63] Quebec was angry, accusing Ontario of being “intolerant, and not holding to the spirit of Confederation.” Quebec politician and nationalist, Henri Bourassa publicly denounced the English calling them the “Prussians of Ontario, Saying they were strongly opposed by Franco-Ontarian’s, particularly in the national capital of Ottawa.”[64] Such friction was still noticeable when Borden passed the Military Service Act, as he stated that “[conscription] might mean civil war in Quebec.”[65]

The First World War was a contentious issue for French Canadian citizens as “there were only few French Canadians were willing to risk their lives in defence of England” When Canada sent their First Expeditionary Force to the front in October 1914, there was only a singular “French-speaking company involved. Out of 258 infantry battalions formed throughout the war, only 13 were French Canadian.”[66] French Canadian politician, publisher, and nationalist figure, Henri Bourassa was a vocal critic of compulsory service. As he wrote in his newspaper, La Devoir;

“The government, the opposition, and the entire parliament have plunged the country into the European tempest. Whereas no international commitment and no constitutional or moral obligation impose any other duty on Canada than to look after the defence of its own territory.”[67]

To Bourassa, compulsory service was a form of a blood tax, and he asked the Canadian public if “National emancipation should be paid for in blood?” In one of his writings, Bourassa argued that, “Canada could have intervened in this war as a nation with no more subservience to England than to France or Belgium, and reserving expressly its full freedoms of action for the future.” In his view, the future of Canadian independence mattered more than the human sacrifice in a European conflict. Bourassa’s beliefs conflicted with those of English Canadians, who believed that “paying their tribute to the British Empire in men would earn the right to emancipation in the new order.”[68] Archbishop Monseigneur Bruchesi of Quebec warned Borden in a message about the potential for riots if Conscription were to be enforced: “Do you not think, in light of our population, that we have largely done our share? The people are agitated. In the province of Quebec, we can expect deplorable revolts. Will this not end in bloodshed?”[69]

Borden defends the Military Service Act

In a 1916 address in Montreal, Borden spoke to its citizens on the importance and urgency of the duty Canadians had during the war. Borden in his speech, attempted to convince the citizens of Montreal to put aside their differences to fulfill the needs of the Empire:

“It was inevitable from the first that in this dominion we should have our differences whether of party, race or of creed… If ever devotion to duty, if ever a high conception of service and of national unity were essential to the lifetime of our country, they are demanded today. All controversies of a minor character sink into insignificance when the very foundation of our national existence is in danger of being overthrown.”[70]

When Borden introduced conscription in the following year, he spoke with a similar urgency. In a House of Commons speech, Borden proclaimed, “If we do not pass this measure, if we do not keep our plighted faith, with what countenance shall we meet them on their return?”[71] In an Ottawa announcement on 11 November, Borden defended the Military Service Act: “The government realizes that in this national emergency, there is an imperative necessity for the fulfillment of its policies with the least possible delay. It pledges itself to prosecute the war with senseless vigor.” Borden also stated in the speech that;

“There was no thought of compulsion until compulsion became imperative. There was no hesitation to seek authority for enrollment by selection when the necessity was established. It was the enemy, not the government which issued the calls to arms, and compelled a mobilization of the empire’s resources.”[72]

During the lead-up to the 1917 election, Borden proposed to Laurier, the formation of a “unionist government.”[73] As he explained in his memoirs, “I was confronted with the possibility, perhaps the duty, of establishing such a government by association with that element of the Liberal party, outside of Quebec, which was prepared to support compulsory military service and was resolute in the determination to maintain Canada’s war effort.”[74] Laurier began the war in support of Borden’s efforts in Europe, going as far as “becoming involved in the recruitment of combat volunteers.”[75] However, Laurier had long been opposed to conscription due to the potential damage it could have on the country. As he stated in a message to Borden “Is it not true that the main reason advocated for conscription – not so much publicly as privately – is that Quebec must be made to do her part, and French Canadians forced to enlist compulsorily since they did not enlist voluntarily?”[76] Upon receiving the union offer, Laurier was initially hesitant to make his decision, “aware that English-speaking Liberals were in favour of joining Borden’s union.” On “6 June 1917, Laurier declined Borden’s offer,” choosing to continue as Liberal party leader. This decision appeased many members of the Conservative party who were not interested in aligning with Liberals.[77]  That news did not stop certain Liberals from breaking away from the Liberal Party, when Borden formed his government following the election. The Union Party Cabinet was composed of “12 Conservatives, 9 Liberals, independents and one Labour MP.”[78]

Another maneuver Borden undertook prior to the election was the Military Voters Act, which expanded voter enfranchisement. Now, “every person, male or female, who being a British subject, whether or not ordinarily resident in Canada, was able to vote in a federal election”.[79] As a result of this policy, many “French-Canadian women were not allowed to vote, as well as immigrants from countries Canada had been at war with since 1902.”[80] Another group removed from the list of available voters were those who were “exempted from the coming conscription draft, such as conscientious objectors.”[81] The bill was “met with indignation from suffragists; some saw its half-measures as an overt attempt to service the wartime cause rather than the rights of women.” In the spring of 1918, “the government extended the right to vote to Canadian women over the age of 21.”  Borden “declared that women would exert a good influence on public life.” Author Stephen Leacock was critical of giving women the vote, as he argued sarcastically that they would do nothing but “elect men to the government.” History would prove him wrong, as three years later, Agnes Macphail would become “the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.”[82]

The 1917 election campaign was a bitter one, as in the lead-up to election day, the Manitoba Free Press wrote that “a vote for Laurier is a vote for the Kaiser.” The Toronto Daily News posted a map of the country, where “English speaking Canada was coloured red. Quebec in black.” This anger from these fierce debates was best symbolized during Interior Minister Alfred Sevigny’s visit to Quebec. It was here that he was “driven from a platform, amidst revolver shots and flying stones. After he took refuge in a hotel, the building’s windows were smashed and Sevigny had to escape out the back door.”[83]

Borden and the Aftermath of the 1917 Election

Borden’s Union Party won the 1917 election, “dominating English-speaking regions, and returning to parliament with a majority of 154 seats, three from Quebec. Laurier’s Liberals won 82 seats, 72 from Quebec.”[84] To the public, the Union victory was a validation of Conscription. A 17 December Washington Post article wrote that the “Union Government has been returned, and conscription confirmed by the Canadian Domestic vote.”[85] To Borden, the election was a “confirmation of a solemn covenant and a pledge he and Canada had made to the soldiers at the front.”[86] The election results isolated Quebec. Three weeks after the election, a member of the Quebec Legislative Assembly, Joseph Napoleon Francoeur,[87] expressed his feelings at a meeting. As he explained, he “would be disposed to accept the breaking of the Confederation pact of 1867 if, in the other provinces, it is believed that she is an obstacle to the union, progress, and development of Canada.”[88] The political isolation felt by Quebec, would end up “hurting Conservative party fortunes there, and haunt Canadian unity, for generations to come.”[89]

The initial call-ups for conscription began in “January 1918 and 400,000 men were registered for conscription. Ninety-three percent of registered members asked for exemptions.”[90] There were many examples of citizens claiming that “they were the sole supporter of their families, disabled, students, or vital to the economy.” One story was from Jules Lachapelle who “sought refuge in the countryside with his wife Anna. When Anna learned that enlistment officers were searching the region she asked her sister-in-law to lend them their 18-month-old girl to pass off as their own child.” The number of exemptions forced Borden to use his authority and cancel many of the restrictions in April 1918.[91]

Following the enactment of Military Service Act, the tension was noteworthy, especially in Quebec where protests would take place. During the summer of 1917, “angry crowds broke office windows at the pro-conscription Montreal newspaper The Gazette. The Home of Lord Atholstan, proprietor of the equally pro-conscription Montreal Daily Star, was dynamited earlier that month, but he would escape unharmed.”[92] The tension culminated on 28 March 1918 when two young men, Joseph Mercier and Alfred Deslauriers, came across a group of policemen who were known to “rough up anyone caught without conscription exemption papers.” Mercier had received his exemption for compulsory service but “his card was at home that night.” When Mercier couldn’t show his papers, the officers “reportedly arrested [Mercier] aggressively.”[93]  A mass of angry French Canadian citizens retaliated the following day, “smashing windows and setting the city’s military service registry office ablaze.” The riots continued to escalate and on 30 March 1918, “the commanding officer of the district called in 1000 further troops to help control the crowd.” Frank Scott, a soldier on leave nearby noted that “rioters had put out the street lamps: the lower city was shrouded in mist and darkness. Suddenly I could make out the fire and several machine guns. It gave the impression that a massacre was taking place at the foot of the cliff.”[94] Following a violent clash, numbers suggest that as many as “150 civilians had been wounded, and four had been killed.”[95] One of those citizens was “fourteen-year-old Georges Demeule.” According to coroner reports from the scene, Demeule “had died of a bullet wound to the heart.” According to his mother, Demeule had “worked 12 hours a day, and had planned to go that evening to Garde Champlain hall in Saint Roch, to play euchre.”[96]


The Military Services Act saga, left a negative effect on French Canada’s perspective of their English counterparts. As historian Desmond Morton explained “One of the outcomes of the war, was a disenchantment with Britain, and a desire to be self-governing.” French Canadians were treated harshly throughout the war by the Canadian press. As Morton explained, the Quebecers were called “cowards, traitors, and probably German Agents… In the eyes of Anglo Montreal, and the rest of Canada, French Canadians were worthless and evil.”[97]

By the war’s end, statistics suggested that “401,882 men registered for conscription and 124,588 were drafted to the Canadian expeditionary force.” Overall there were “47,509 conscripted men were sent overseas and 24,132 men served in France.” These measures proved to add a “necessary addition of troops, as the Canadian troops with its four infantry divisions could not have been sustained in the field without them.” The conscripts were able to “comprise a significant percentage of front line infantry in the last few months of the war, as their numbers were essential to keeping infantry battalions at full strength providing crucial manpower to the depleted divisions of the Canadian Corps.”[98]

Canada’s actions in the war led to a developed sense of nationalistic pride seen across the country. As Borden wrote in 1933 “the portal of full nationhood due to the valour, the endurance, and the achievement in France and Belgium which inspired our people with an impelling sense of nationhood never before experienced.” However, as historian Tim Cook explains, the country “reeled from the war, scarred and battered, grief stricken by what it had lost in the fight to the finish.” While the pride was felt, the effects of the war changed the landscape of Canadian politics, Cook explains that “one thing became clear: Canada had changed forever. It was a far more difficult country to lead, and perhaps even to hold together, yet it was also one that had made a name for itself.”[99]

Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail described Borden best in a 2007 article. Martin wrote that “Borden was a plain man. Never one to make an electrifying speech, never one to capture the imagination of the people or the historians.” While a firm believer in backing the British Empire, Borden aimed to further Canada’s standing on the world stage. He helped accomplish this reality by demanding, “independent voting status for Canada in the Paris Peace Conference,”[100] which ended the war. Canada, along with other overseas dominions was “given representation on the British Empire delegation to the Peace conference in Paris. [They] were given two seats, occupied by Sir Robert Borden, Sir George Foster, the Hon. A.l Sifton, and the Hon. C.J Doherty.”[101] Borden also convinced British Prime Minister Lloyd George that Canada should, “have its own seat in the League of Nations.” These resolutions furthered the progress of Canada as an independent, self-governing nation.[102] Borden had long held a belief that the country “had the capacity, and was entitled to control its own external affairs in both peace and war.”[103] As a result of the peace treaty Canada obtained “separate representation in the Assembly of the League of Nations, and obtained the recognition of her right to have her representative elected to the council of the league.”[104]

Sir Robert Laird Borden, 1915.Png – Wikimedia Commons.” Accessed May 3, 2023. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sir_Robert_Laird_Borden,_1915.png.[/footnote]

Eventually, health issues began to cause problems for Borden. His doctors advised him that he “should leave politics immediately. On 16 December 1919, he told his Cabinet he was going to resign, however, they pleaded with him to stay in office, but take a vacation for a year.”[105] On 10 July 1920, Borden officially retired and was replaced by Arthur Meighen.[106] Following his retirement, journalists believed that Borden’s biography would be unremarkable.[107] However Borden’s legacy as Prime Minster led to Canada earning it’s status of “Dominion Autonomy.” In a 1927 conversation with South African General Jan Christiaan Smuts, Smuts gave Borden credit for the Canadian’s newfound equal status within the Commonwealth. As Smuts said, “You were no doubt the main protagonist for Dominion Status.”[108]

Borden’s Military Service Act heightened the severity of the divisions between French and English-speaking Canada as the people of Quebec developed a sense of alienation within their own country.[109] The crisis provided French Nationalists with “evidence of the impossibility of reconciling the views of French and English Canada,.” The bitter memories from this conflict existed among French Canadians would exist for decades.[110] The First World War, Morton argues, helped transform Canada, into a “country of two nations.”[111]. This argument is something Archivist Marcelle Cinq-Mars disagrees with, stating that the conflict only “deepened a pre-existing divide.”[112] English-speaking Canadians created a narrative following the conflict that the war was a glorious success. It was a narrative that alienated French Canadians. As historian Carl Bouchard explains, the First World War in French Canada is viewed as the “forgotten war.” Bouchard argues that even though the English saw World War One “as glorious in Canada, Quebecers will not see themselves in it.”[113] Canada had emerged from the war as a nation with increased status within the British Commonwealth. However the actions taken during the war left French Canadians feeling excluded from their fellow citizens. The First World War was a conflict that left the country of Canada a changed nation.

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Canada and the Challenges of Leadership Copyright © 2023 by Kelsey Lonie; Corey Safinuk; and Jonathon Zimmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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