Previous Index Next

 

32   DAYS OF PREPARATION

The first war appropriation was for $50,000,000, and it was supposed to provide for the pay and equipment of 25,000 men. On August 22nd, the Minister of Militia, the Hon. Sam Hughes, said that 100,000 men had volunteered. "So far as my own personal views are concerned," he declared, "I am absolutely opposed to anything that is not voluntary in every sense, and I do not read in the law that I have any authority to ask Parliament to allow troops other than volunteers to leave the country."

Not only was the idea of compulsion unprecedented, but nothing was said at this time about any measures for promoting recruiting. It seemed to be unnecessary, for the unsolicited volunteers appeared to be in excess of the number of men who would be required. In the succeeding two years of the war, this view was modified. The standard aimed at was raised from 25,000 to 500,000, and it became necessary to carry on a vigorous campaign for recruits. Criticism of those who failed to respond grew louder and harsher, and at last the demand arose for conscription.

These matters are mentioned at this point in order to show how the idea of sending small contingents, some-what after the manner adopted in the South African War, gradually disappeared, and gave way to the idea that all physically fit men should go. At first the volunteers were regarded as exceptions. Then the idea arose that those who stayed at home were exceptions. The presumption was that the man should go, and that it was for him to show why he should be allowed to stay at home.

The position of Germans and Austrians in Canada was one of great difficulty for themselves and for the authorities. The Government had to deal with a large German population whose ancestors for three or four generations had been Canadians. In addition there had been large immigration from the Teutonic countries and especially from Austria and Hungary in the recent years. For instance, between 1901 and 1911 the population of


Previous Index Next