Canada's Nationhood

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Canada's Nationhood

The armistice of November 11, 1918, brought relief to the whole world. The horrible struggle with death, destruction, and misery was at last halted. It had truly been a world war.

Sixty-five million men from 30 nations were involved in it. At least 10 million men were killed; 29 million more were wounded, captured, or missing. The financial cost was measured in hundreds of billions of dollars. Never before had there been such a conflict.

The Great War was also a landmark in Canadian national development. In 1914, the country had entered the war as a colony, a mere extension of Britain overseas. In 1918, it was visibly forging ahead to nationhood. Canada began the war with one division of citizen soldiers under the command of a British general and ended with a superb fighting force under the command of one of its own sons.

For a nation of eight million people, Canada’s effort during the First World War was remarkable. A total of 619,636 men and women served in the Canadian forces; of those, 66,655 gave their lives and another 172,950 were wounded. Nearly one out of every 10 Canadians who fought did not return. It was this war record that won for Canada a separate signature on the peace treaty, signifying that national status had been
achieved.

Nationhood was purchased for Canada by the gallant men who stood fast at Ypres, stormed Regina Trench at the Somme, never wavered in the face of adversity at Beaumont-Hamel, unified for the first time as a single corps and climbed the heights of Vimy Ridge, captured Passchendaele, spearheaded Allied advances during the Hundred Days leading to armistice, and entered Mons on November 11, 1918, to receive the salute of honour.