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CHAPTER II

 

CANADA AT WAR

THE process by which Canada became a nation in arms, taking part in a world-wide war and sending armies to Europe, was one of gradual development.

Before Confederation the British North American Provinces were regarded as likely to require aid from Britain rather than to give it. British troops were maintained in Canada, and British fleets were stationed on her Atlantic and Pacific coasts. There were two causes for this state of affairs:—the primitive condition of the provinces and the lack of unity and communication between them. Upper and Lower Canada, now Ontario and Quebec, were united, but the form of the union was unsuitable to both, and this was one of the causes of the deadlock of the early sixties, which in its turn compelled the statesmen of that time to look to federation as a remedy. On the Atlantic, three Provinces were British but not Canadian. On the Pacific, British Columbia was in a similar position. Between the Rocky Mountains and old Canada stretched the vast expanse of prairie now known as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, then almost uninhabited. There was no direct railway communication between Canada and neighbouring British provinces and territories, the population was small and scattered, the country was poor in developed wealth, though rich in potential resources.

One of the arguments used in favour of Confederation was that it would increase the defensive power of Canada. "The Colonies," said Sir John Macdonald in the Con-federation debate, "are now in a transition state. Gradually a different colonial system is being developed; and it will become year by year less a case of dependence

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