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The Home Front
WWI in Canada
Total War
• World War I is considered a total war. This
means that it required not only the efforts
of soldiers on the front line, but the effort of
everyday civilians back home.
• Countries gathered up all their resources
and geared industry towards the war.
Essentially, the war affected the lives of everyone.
Support for the War Effort
Patriotic community groups,
government campaigns, and posters
suggested that no sacrifice should be
spared to ensure victory in Europe.
Total Wars Cost Money
• The cost of the war was higher than the government’s ability to pay.
When this happens to a government they have two options:
• 1. Raise taxes
• 2. Borrow money
• They did both!
Income Tax
• Income tax was introduced in WWI.
• The first tax in the country on money people made.
• It was supposed to be temporary.
Total Wars Cost Money
Income Tax
Cutting Back
• People reduced the amount of food they ate and tried
to waste as little as possible.
• Reduced intake of meat, butter, sugar, and
bread so that more of it could be sent overseas.
• The voluntary reduction of how much food
people ate was called “honour rationing”.
• Although it was voluntary, people caught
hoarding food could be fined or put in jail.
Lend a Buck!
Victory Bonds
• The government urged people to buy
Victory Bonds.
• People who bought the bonds were lending
money to the government.
• When the war was over, bonds could be
cashed in at a profit.
• Buying Victory Bonds was considered a duty
especially for those who could not join the
war effort directly by enlisting.
Victory Bonds
Lend a Buck!
• Children bought thrift
• Each stamp cost 25¢ and
was stuck on a card.
• When $4.00 worth of
stamps were purchased,
the child received a War
Savings Stamp.
• This stamp could be
cashed in for $5.00 in
Soldiers of the Soil
• The government urged farmers to produce as
much as they could.
• By 1917, Canadian farmers supplied most of the
bread consumed by Allied soldiers.
• When men went off to war, boys 15-19 were
encouraged by the government to become
“soldiers of the soil”.
They were given an official
uniform and a medal in
recognition for their
• When war was declared, factories were quickly
reorganized to produce war supplies
• Plants producing airplanes, shells, and ships sprang up
across the country.
By 1918, 300 000 Canadians
were employed in these factories
and 1/3 of the shells fired by the
armies of the British Empire were
made in Canada.
Women’s Contributions
• Women worked in industries to replace
them men off fighting.
• 30000 women worked in munitions
• Common jobs were aircraft assembly,
shipyards, machine shops
• Women also drove buses and streetcars,
worked in banks, and on police forces.
• Women worked on the farms to bring in
the harvest
• Groups of women met regularly to
organize community fundraisers, knit
socks and roll bandages for the troops.
The most popular organization was the Canadian Red Cross.
Women’s Contributions
• Many women were paid good wages during the war (still lower than
men). Wages allowed women to be independent.
• This was a new concept for women.
Women’s Suffrage
• In 1914 women in Canada still did not have the right
to vote
Women’s Suffrage
Nellie McClung
Women’s Suffrage
• 1916 – Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta became the first
provinces to recognize women’s right to vote in provincial elections
• In 1917, Sir Robert Borden proposed, in the “Wartime Elections Act”,
that wives, mothers, sisters, daughters of soldiers should be allowed
to vote in the federal election of 1917.
• After the war Borden extended the vote to all women over age 21
Women’s Suffrage
• After the war…
• Women has to give way to the returning men and give up
their jobs out of the home.
• They returned to the “women’s jobs” from before the war
• The number of women working outside the home returned
to pre-war levels
• However, women had enjoyed their independence and
even though their jobs changed, their ideologies around
their place in the world had not.
• Shorter skirts, short hair, smoking, make-up, going out
without a chaperone, etc. become common and would
contribute to a new “type” of women in the 1920s.