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CHAPTER X

VOLUNTARY WAR RELIEF
1. PATRIOTIC FUND ACTIVITIES

 

IN THAT momentous four days' session of the Canadian Parliament, which in August, 1914, dedicated the Dominion to the great struggle for liberty, three-fourths of the discussion and legislation had to do either with the military and naval situation or with adjusting the financial and commercial structure to bear the strain of war. But two other incidents of the day stand out. The first was the Government's gift of a million bags of flour to the people of the United Kingdom, symbolic alike of the country's devotion and of the kind of strength it could best contribute. The second was the passing of the Act incorporating the Canadian Patriotic Fund. Thus was initiated—or typified in its initial stages—a movement which soon reached a scale unparalleled in Canadian annals, and worthy of no mean place in the general history of sacrifice towards a great end. In three years of war the patriotic givings of the Canadian people had certainly reached and had probably exceeded a total of sixty million dollars.

To review a movement of this nature and to measure its exact extent is not at the present date easy. Millions of contributors were concerned in it, and they gave to scores of "causes" through perhaps hundreds of organizations. Private giving is essentially chaotic, and to reduce it to systematic and complete record in a case like the present would have required elaborate and expensive machinery. This it could not receive, though in certain of the provinces, as in Ontario and Nova Scotia, government departments have kept in general touch with its more prominent features. The present article relies for its main facts on a return prepared by

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