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When Dreams Become Real: A Brief Canadian History! Chapter 7: Canada and the First World War

Written by Muneel Ali Published On : May 27, 2018 1290
When Dreams Become Real: A Brief Canadian History! Chapter 7: Canada and the First World War



“Let them look to the past, but let them also look to the future; let them look to the land of their ancestors, but let them look also to the land of their children.” - Sir Wilfrid Laurier

May 20, 1990

The doctor handed over me the reports, I sighed, thinking hardly what I would be doing next. Everything just faded away, my brain loss all its functions and my limbs all numb. The doctor insisted me to get charged in the hospital, I refused, because in my mere conscious I knew all the things that a typical doctor does. Yes, I was afraid and I am afraid and I find it no shame in saying that a retired military officer is so damn afraid. I don’t know what is going to happen and I don’t want to die in a state with a feeling that I couldn’t make the most of my life or I didn’t spend my days as a person should. So, I somehow managed to ensure my doctor that from now onwards I would take my medicines on time but I couldn’t afford to stay in one white room of a hospital, thinking about pros and cons of life perhaps, I didn’t want to regret myself. Instead, I decided to grow my already strong relationship with my grandson.

As we entered the park, Carter said, “You haven’t told me about your reports.”

“There’s nothing to worry, son. It is just the usual flu and cough. The doctor has prescribed me some medicines. I’ll be fine after taking them.”

He wasn’t satisfied so he craved more and composing him was became the most difficult thing for me at that time. I promised that once this story completes, we’ll talk on this issue.

Success and Canada, then, seemed together. The industrialization became vast and economy touched the skies in the 1890s and early 1900s. This led to around millions of British and Americans to move towards Canada. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a confederation member, became the first French-Canadian Prime Minister who made possible the arrivals of many immigrants to the west and railway system enhances its shines, allowing 170,000 Ukrainians, 115,000 Poles, and thousands from Germany, France, Norway and Sweden to come in the west in 1914 and flourish the agricultural system. Sir Wilfred portrait can be found on $5 bill.

Canadians are a very proud nation and even at the time of the first World War, they proved same. They felt happy to be the part of the British Empire. They joined together in the South African Boer War (1899–1902) in which 260 died. After that, in 1900 they took hold of the battles of Paardeberg (“Horse Mountain”) and Lillefontein to strengthen their nation. At the time of Germany and France war in 1914, Ottawa prepared the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Canadian Corps) and more than 600,000 Canadians (out of eight million total population), mostly volunteers, took part in the war.

Canadian corps proved themselves to be strong and competent during the war times. In April 1917, Canadian soldiers captured the Vimy Ridge but with a loss of 10,000 killed and wounded, proving Canadians brave and valiant nation. Now, April 9 is officially recognized as the Vimy Day. 1914 to 1920 was the time of Ottawa regret as it caged above 8,000 former Austro-Hungarian people, mostly Ukrainians seeing them as enemy aliens, in 24 labor camps, although Britain advised not to do that.

In 1918, Canadian Corps became more advanced including French and British troops all under the supervision of General Sir Arthur Currie, indeed he was the greatest soldier of all time. After that, the Canadians grew deep inside the grounds of the battlefield and crashed everyone in their path. Firstly, Canada succeeded in the Battle of Amiens against Germans on August 8, 1918. It was known as the “black day” in the German history. After that, the battle Arras, Canal du Nord, Cambrai, and Mons. Both Germany and Austria surrendered the war and it finally came to an end on November 11, 1918, with total 60,000 killed and 170,000 wounded Canadians. This war provided Canada to gain its national and imperial pride, especially for English Canada.

For all that time, I didn’t feel sick, though my condition wasn’t offering me this. Perhaps, some mystical spirits were guiding me to give away all that I could to my grandson before my time overs.

When Confederation setup, the vote was only restricted to only white men owning a property. Women got their voting rights by the movement led by Dr. Emily Stowe, who was the first Canadian woman practice medicine. By her efforts, Manitoba in 1916 became the first province to initiate women rights in voting. And in 1917, it became official by the federal government of Sir Robert Borden but the first priority should be to nurses worked on the battlefield, then women who provided services to the men at wartime. In 1918, women of age 21 and more could vote in the Federal elections. In 1921, Agnes Macphail, a farmer, and teacher granted the position of first woman MP. Other ladies including Thérèse Casgrain made Quebec women enjoy their voting rights in1940. Canada remembers the sacrifices of brave people who sought their lives to the cause of Canada and all who are alive serving the nation, so every year on November 11th, Canada celebrated the Remembrance Day, as we do today like a moment of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.

“This is our Canada, my son, this is what makes us. I would love if you go through the verses of poems which Canadian medical officer Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae composed in 1915 for the Remembrance Day,” I smiled.

Carter looked me in the eyes deeply and said, “I know there is something you have been hiding from me.”

I stole a glimpse because I had to…

To be Continued…

Is it just ended or grandpa has more to tell about Canada? Would Carter not understand the growing tension between him and his grandfather? Keep pondering over the questions until the next chapter.

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