The Most Defining Moments of Canada's 20th Century

Over the years Canada has managed to prove its country's strength, stability, and value quite easily, but what is now coming so easily has been quite the journey with a hefty past that countless just don't quite seem to even acknowledge. For instance, without Canada's involvement in World War II, the fight for gender equality, and the creation of medicare; Canada would not be what it is today' and that is for certain.

To begin, World War II was the first and most important defining moment of the 20th century for Canada as a tremendous amount of good ended up indirectly coming from it, but before getting into all of the goodness, it is crucial to grasp what World War II was and why it had occurred. For starters, the Treaty of Versailles (a peace treaty created at the end of World War I), had destroyed Germany's economy by basically causing Germany to pay for all the damage World War I had done. With Germany's economy in ruins, they were quite desperate for a leader and there came Hitler out of thin air, Hitler chose to gather all of Germany's troops and launch a gigantic attack on Poland which had in turn started World War II. The reasoning behind why this attack was escalated in the first place was simply because Germany (Hitler) was greedy, he desired to expand the German state and thought that because he had already monopolized over Austria and Czechoslovakia without any intervenience, Poland would be similar; thankfully he was incredibly mistaken as it had led to the second World War and had caused Germany (Hitler) to get what they deserved. This war was very significant because it had costed Canada approximately $21,786,077,519.12; quite the substantial amount of money but it still does not compare to the 42,042 Canadian troops whom had lost their lives fighting for what was right.  Although then came the good, for instance some of the greatness that had come from World War II  was that it had completely transformed Canada's industrial base by diversifying the manufacturing field,  it had significantly assisted in the progress of other major events such as increasing the role of women in the Canadian economy, it had paved a way for Canada's membership in the NATO through showing just how strong and independent Canada could be, and last but not least it had left Canadians with a strong and proud legacy of troops who got to live with the fact that they had accomplished a tremendous amount of greatness for Canada. Thus when thinking of the 20th century in Canad it is nearly impossible to miss all the greatness that had come from World War II, in turn making it the most significant event in the entire century.

In continuation, without the 20th century gender inequality would most likely still be a prominent issue here in Canada as women would still be forced to stay at home and deemed unable to work or generally even think for themselves for that matter as they still would not be able to vote. Many would go as far as to say that like mentioned above, World War II  had contributed to women eventually being granted the right to vote here in Canada, as it had proved that a women is capable of managing the home front and doing all the things their husbands typically did as they went off to war. Although it is quite important to note that the movement towards equal women's rights here in Canada began as early as 1918 where the Federal government had deemed all women within Canada able to meet the qualifications that the men had originally reached to be deemed able to vote. That wasn't the end of that though, as it would take until 1940 for each provincial government in Canada to change their ways and grant the women living within their province the right to vote. This was a huge milestone in Canadian history as it finally separated all barriers between the two genders and placed every human being on an equal field. This made countless women feel incredible, like they could do anything really; which as a matter of fact they now could. Without such a milestone occurring back then women today would not be striving to become doctors, electricians, plumbers, welders, or even anything for that matter as they would be playing the typical house wife role, just like they had back then. Therefore, removing the barriers between the genders in the 20th century by allowing women to vote and granting them equal rights, was the second most important event to occur as it entitled women to the same superiority as men have always had.

On that note, it is very important that it is acknowledged that without the 20th century something we all think so fondly of here in Canada would not be existent, and that something is medicare. Nearly all outsiders would be the first to classify Canadians as living the luxurious lifestyle filled with good health and free healthcare that is funded through a small and nearly unnoticeable portion of every Canadian citizens taxes. It is crucial to realize that what now comes so easy to every Canadian citizen hasn't always, and there has been quite the struggle to get this medicare for Canada. It all began in 1946 when Tommy Douglas; a young man whom was head of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation of Saskatchewan' had passed the Saskatchewan Hospitalization Act, which had allowed the majority of Saskatchewan's population to receive free medical services. This was something that countless other provincial governments within Canada had envied and because of that in 1947 Alberta and British Columbia had also passed a similar Act to Tommy Douglas's Act for Saskatchewan. This had in turn stirred up quite the controversy for the federal government and had caused them in 1957 to create a Hospital Insurance and Diagnostics Service Act (known as the HIDS program), which is in fact a very significant moment in history as the  HIDS program has established the five basic standards that Canada's healthcare system still relies on to this day. To continue, the HIDS program was something that all ten provinces had agreed to by 1961, and in 1966 it improved as the federal government of Lester B. Pearson introduced the Medicare Act, this new Act allowed each province to have a universal health care system funded by the federal government. Then for the final change in 1984 when the Canada Health Act came into place which prohibited all Canadian citizens from paying for any user fees or extra doctor billings. This moment in history has been known as one of Canada's most defining moments as it is to this day, despite its criticisms is what Canada's identity is centered around.


In conclusion, Canada has  not made much progress within the 21st century and has only relied on elaborating upon the milestones that have come from the 20th century. Thus, without the Canada's participation in World War II, Canada giving women equal rights, and Canada differentiating themselves from every other country by offering their citizens free universal healthcare, there is no way Canada would be as strong and well put together as it is today. It's no lie when people say that the 20th century has truly defined our nation for the better and built the foundation in which we can peacefully rest our heads upon.


Like anything with the good their also comes the bad, and the 20th century was absolutely no exemption for that. Some of the moments where Canada had to simply learn from their significant mistakes and move forward include the Japanese Canadian Internment, the government's attacking ads to the public, and the Canadian Pacific Railway taking advantage of Chinese workers.

For starters, people were always quite quick to jump to conclusions about Hitler and how he treated the Jewish people living in Germany, but the truth is Canadians weren't any better when it comes to how they treated the Japanese Canadians in the early months of 1942. Out of pure fear and suspicion all Japanese Canadians were ripped out of their homes and placed in Canadian Internment Camps that were in complete disgusting and unlivable condition; and this all happened simply because Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and it had made everyone in Canada suspicious of the Japanese living within their country, this is something that had lasted until March of 1946. It is important to realize that these innocent people had their home lives ruined strictly because they were Japanese, regardless of whether anything had actually been done or not. Therefore, this was a very significant moment in history because it had taught Canada a very valuable lesson in making quick, prejudice, and discriminatory decisions without fully thinking of the consequences and what is being done.


Continuing on, periodically throughout the 20th century the Canadian government had been posting countless ads in which negatively targeted the public. For instance the first attack ad made by the government themselves was the 1964 "Daisy Girl" advertisement which had threatened American voters with a nuclear war. This message of course was not deployed in quite so many words but it still came across crystal clear to the public, and that was only the beginning of the nasty advertisements. Another major advertisement had been the George W. Bush advertisement that had been known as "the revolving door" , as it suggested having a candidate from prison would lead to an increase in violent crimes. Therefore, it is important to note that this is something that to this day is still going on which is why it is so significant, the government especially should be not allowing such vulgarity and controlling its country in a much better manor.  

Finally, a final and yet very significantly major event that put Canada's name through quite the journey was the Canadian Pacific Railway's abuse towards their Chinese workers. It all began in the late 19th century (1881) but continued on until approximately 1909 (the 20th century), and the worst part about it was that the Canadian government believed they were doing no wrong. Basically the Canadian government needed a railway that would stretch from one side of the country to the other so Andrew Onderdonk, a New York engineer, was given the contract to build the portion of the railway from Port Moody to Eagle Pass, near Revelstoke, British Columbia. The majority of the land the workers were forced to build railways on was full of mountains which made the work dangerous before it had already begun. Approximately 17,000 Chinese men brought to Canada to work on this railway and paid $1.00 a day, and from this $1.00 the workers still had to purchase their food and their camping/cooking utilities; meanwhile all the white workers who were hired did not have to pay for these things and they were even paid more money then the Chinese workers were (they were paid anywhere from $1.50-$2.50 per day).  Not to mention when it came to the more dangerous work the Chinese workers were forced to do it, landslides and dynamite blasts killed many and destroyed an abundance of families. This is something that although was slightly out of the 20th century, is just as important as any other Canadian historical events as it taught Canada a very crucial lesson in inequality. As the Canadian government looks back today this is an event so significant in showing just how far Canada has come in terms of inequality because this would be no where near acceptable in today's society and is extremely frowned upon. Therefore, the way the Chinese workers were treated compared to the white workers was completely unacceptable and shows just how far us Canadians have come to this day.

In conclusion, Canadian history can be just as glorious as it can be revolting and hard to listen to, but at the end of the day the important thing is that from all of these  events; the Japanese Canadian Internment, the government's attacking ads to the public, and the Canadian Pacific Railway taking advantage of Chinese workers' we as Canadians have hopefully learned something and build upon our mistakes. Although we will never forget where the past has taken us it is important to acknowledge it with a sense of pride when we look at how far we

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