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52   DAYS OF PREPARATION

fire of certain forts, was taken into consideration. The crisis grew more acute. The Dominions were notified to be on their guard against possible attack in advance of any formal declaration of war. Certain radio-telegraph posts were dismantled; at others the transmission of all private messages was stopped. Guards were ordered for the protection of the arsenal and rifle factory at Quebec. Companies of local militia were detailed to watch the grain elevators at Port Arthur and Fort William. Pickets and cavalry patrols were called out with a view to defending against possible malicious injury the canal systems of the St. Lawrence, Welland, and Sault Ste. Marie. A wild rumour was started that several Austrian vessels were meditating an attack on Glace Bay, but this was subsequently found to be without foundation. It was almost with relief that a cable message was received on August 4th saying:

"War has broken out Germany."

The suspense was ended, but by that time the preparations were so well under way, and the conviction that it was unavoidable so strong that the actual message caused little stir in the departments principally affected at the moment, amid the rush of work and multiplicity of detail which required immediate attention. All officers commanding Divisions and Districts throughout Canada were, of course, notified immediately, but it might be said that the wheels had already begun to turn, and the immediate effect was only a little speeding up of the machinery.

The wireless telegraph stations on the East Coast were closed at thirteen points; the Kingston radio-telegraph station and staff taken over by the Naval Department; all stations on the Pacific Coast, with a few exceptions, were also closed. The guards at all the various ports, cable stations, and other points of military importance were stiffened up and reinforced. The dry docks at Levis, Kingston, Esquimalt, Port Arthur, Montreal, and Collingwood called for special protection.


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