Pride & Prejudice: Canada's International Legacy

There are many moments and times that have forged Canadian history. Three topics that I have chosen have to deal with Canada’s involvement with war. The three topics are as follows, Vimy Ridge (WWI), Canada entering WWII and the raid on Juno Beach (D-Day).

Vimy Ridge

On the morning of April 9, 1917 (Easter Sunday) Canadian soldiers were instructed to seize Vimy Ridge, located in northern France, from the German Army. Prior to this, both the British and the French armies had tried to take control of Vimy Ridge, but both failed. The Canadians did eventually overthrow the Germans and took control of Vimy Ridge due to careful planning and the courage of our Canadian soldiers.

This battle was a defining moment for Canada. Not only did it show the great courage of our troops but it also showed that our commanders had a different war strategy. They developed a new technique for fighting the Germans and it was so successful that the British and French adopted it in other battles. The battle also showed that Canada had emerged from under the shadow of Britain. We showed that we are our own nation, fighting to help our friends. This battle was also the first time that Canadian troops from different parts of the nation had united and fought together as a single unit. This battle, however, was not only a Canadian success, they had help from the British and the French. This aspect showed that Canada could work with other countries in a united way to achieve their goals. The battle of Vimy Ridge was a horrible and bloody battle but it was one of great success for Canada. It was a key turning point in shaping Canada as a nation.

Canada declares War on Germany

On September 10, 1939, Canada’s parliament declared war on Germany. This decision was debated after parliament was assembled early from their summer recess and was passed but not unanimously. Some politicians from Quebec voted “NO” on the issue.

This is the Red Ensign, it was the flag of Canada during this time

D Day

On June 6, 1944, 14 000 Canadian soldiers stormed Juno Beach in Normandy as part of the allied invasion of Nazi occupied Europe. These brave soldiers faced fierce competition from the Germans (machine gun fire, land mines and other deadly obstacles). Heroically the Canadian troops captured the beach and advanced further inland.

There were several reasons why this declaration was passed. The most important one was Canada’s ties to Britain, France and the rest of the free world. The German’s were gaining ground in Europe and they had to be stopped. The majority of Canadian citizens supported this decision and were willing to fight for their freedom. The Canadian government was looking ahead. If the Germans were able to take control of Europe they would not stop there, they would eventually try to control North America, which would destroy Canada and the Canadian way of life. This decision also united the whole country. Canadians were proud to be in the position to join the British and France in the battles happening in Europe. Prime Minister William MacKenzie King had also promised that only volunteers would serve overseas. It was also a very important moment in history because it showed the world that Canada was it’s own nation, split from the British. We were able to make our own decisions in parliament for what was good our country and for our allies. We had a proper government formed that made these decisions in a democratic way.

This was a moment of national pride for Canada. The most difficult task of the invasion was Juno Beach and it was entrusted to our soldiers by the commanders of the allied forces.

A quote from a British historian (John Keegen) sums it up, “The opposition the Canadians faced was stronger than that of any other beach save Omaha. That was an accomplishment in which the whole nation could take considerable pride.” Battles such as this one showed the world on the international level that Canadians are not only courageous soldiers but also peaceful men. Once they had defeated the Germans, they showed great care for the citizens who lived there. These moments of liberating certain parts of Europe was the beginning of Canadian peacekeeping missions that continue on to this day. Not only were the soldiers brave, but the government and citizens stood behind them to show the world the nature of true Canadians. From this courage and sacrifice that our soldiers showed, the true spirit of Canada had shown. The victory on Juno Beach, along with similar raids by the British and Americans was the turning point of the second world war. Together they eventually defeated the Germans and returned Europe to a free and democratic society.

The three topics that I have chosen all have had a great impact on Canadian life as well as Canadian history. All three have shown the courage of not only Canadian soldiers and citizens, but also our government. These events have laid the foundation for Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping missions worldwide as well as showing Canada as a strong and independent nation.

By Trevor Slawson

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