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CANADA'S FINANCIAL CONDITION 115

 

In estimating the value of Canada to the cause of the Allies, apart from the contribution of fighting men to the number of some four hundred thousand, it is important to bear in mind the high strategic importance attached to the possession by Great Britain of a strip of territory right across the American continent, with a first-class railway system traversing it from one ocean to the other, with excellent terminal facilities and a large capacity both for freight and troop movements. Troops under arms cannot be transported through neutral territory, and without Canada the only route of communication between the Pacific and Europe would have been round Cape Horn, or overland by way of the greatly over-burdened Siberian Railway of Russia. Furthermore, the produce not only of Canada but of the whole American continent, which could not have been supplied to British or Allied war vessels in a neutral port, was made readily available for the Navy at any of Canada's numerous and excellent harbours on both coasts; and a vast amount of Canadian shipping became useful for naval and auxiliary purposes as soon as war was declared. Similarly, on the financial side, the fact that an agency of the Bank of England could be established on British territory but on the mainland of the American continent and within a few hours of New York, solved one of the greatest problems raised by the uncertainty of maritime transportation in time of war. In respect of communications, Canada afforded an indispensable link in the round-the-world chain of cable, telegraph and wireless stations by which the military information and orders of the Allied Governments could be transmitted subject to every possible safeguard. Finally, as the possessor of a virtual monopoly of certain highly important articles of military consumption, notably nickel, Canada was able to assure the military authorities of the Empire that the output of these articles would be completely controlled in the interest of the Allied cause.


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