Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

CHAPTER 4: Unending Seige

Assertion of Canadian Identity (1 page)


During the war, the army shaped and moulded the Canadian identity as envisaged by the politicians. In Britain, Canada organized its own supply system, schools and hospitals, which were placed under the command of Major-General Turner, a Victoria Cross recipient in South Africa. In 1916 the Canadian government established the Ministry of Overseas Military Forces in the United Kingdom to deal on the spot with all matters relating to the Canadian forces in Europe. In 1918 the Canadian Corps in combat refused to copy the new British corps. Even in 1915 the Canadians had refused to break up their single division in order to serve short-term British interests.

These hundreds of thousands of Canadians helped to get their country recognized by its allies. Their glorious deeds and their determination to be different would influence the government in its policy of disengagement from imperial ascendancy. Military independence on the battlefield would be succeeded, over the decades, by gradual political independence. In the months and years immediately after the end of the war Canada would participate in peace negotiations, sign peace treaties and become a full member of the League of Nations.