Browse "Military"

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Documenting the Second World War

When Canada declared war on Germany on 10 September 1939, tens of thousands of Canadians enlisted to serve in the armynavyair force and supporting services. The military scrambled to buy equipment, train recruits and prepare for war. Little thought was given, at first, to documenting the war effort. By 1940, however, the military was recruiting historians, most notably Charles Stacey, to collect records and write accounts of Canadian operations. In the following years, artists, photographers and filmmakers also served with the various branches of the armed forces. Today, their diligent work provides a rich visual and written catalogue of Canada’s history in the Second World War.

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Dominion Arsenal

Dominion Arsenal, the first government cartridge and shell factory and proofing facility, established 1882 at Québec to provide the Canadian Militia with ammunition.

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Doric Club

Founded in Montréal in March 1836, the Doric Club was a radical paramilitary group formed in opposition to the Patriote party. Organized by Adam Thom, a Scottish-born francophobe, the club called upon the loyal British population of Lower Canada to unite and defend British interests in the face of the Patriote threat by any means necessary. The group was opposed by a similar paramilitary Patriote group called the Société des Fils de la liberté, which led to a violent confrontation on the streets of Montréal on 6 November 1837. The group disbanded after the start of the Canadian Rebellion, when many of its members joined volunteer militias organized by Sir John Colborne.

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Editorial: Canadian Art and the Great War

Canadian painting in the 19th century tended towards the pastoral. It depicted idyllic scenes of rural life and represented the country as a wondrous Eden. Canadian painter Homer Watson, under the influence of such American masters as Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, created images that are serene and suffused with golden light. In On the Mohawk River (1878), for instance, a lazy river ambles between tall, overhanging trees; in the background is a light-struck mountain. In Watson’s world, nature is peaceful, unthreatening and perhaps even sacred.

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Exercise Tocsin B

Exercise Tocsin B was a nationwide nuclear preparedness drill that lasted 24 hours between 13 and 14 November 1961. It was the last of three national survival exercises named Tocsin in 1960–61. It was also the largest and most widely publicized civil defence drill ever held in Canada. This Cold War exercise run by the Canadian Army simulated the impact of thermonuclear warfare in Canada. Its goals were to show how the state would warn Canadians of such an attack and how government would continue during the crisis. By raising popular awareness of the potential for a devastating nuclear attack, Tocsin B showed Canadians what was at stake in the Cold War.

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Fencibles in the War of 1812

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British government raised regiments known as "fencibles" for home service. These temporary units were used to protect British interests wherever the units were raised, in Great Britain or North America, and were not to be deployed for overseas duty on foreign soil.

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Fenian Raids

The Fenians were a secret society of Irish patriots who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States. Some members of this movement tried to take Canadian territory by force, so they could exchange it with Britain for Irish independence. From 1866 to 1871, the Fenians launched several small, armed attacks. Each raid was put down by government forces. Dozens were killed and wounded on both sides. The raids revealed shortfalls in the leadership, structure and training of the Canadian militia, and led to improvements in these areas. The raids also took place at a time of growing concern over the threat posed by American military and economic might. This led to increased support for Confederation.

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Fenians

Fenians were members of a mid-19th century movement to secure Ireland’s independence from Britain. They were a secret, outlawed organization in the British Empire, where they were known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They operated freely and openly in the United States as the Fenian Brotherhood. Eventually, both wings became known as the Fenians. They launched a series of armed raids into Canadian territory between 1866 and 1871. The movement was primarily based in the United States, but it had a significant presence in Canada.

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Ferry Command

 Ferry Command was established early in WWII to improve aircraft deliveries to Britain from US factories, since surface shipping was too slow and the ships themselves were needed for other cargoes.

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First World War (WWI)

The First World War of 1914–1918 was the bloodiest conflict in Canadian history, taking the lives of nearly 61,000 Canadians. It erased romantic notions of war, introducing slaughter on a massive scale, and instilled a fear of foreign military involvement that would last until the Second World War. The great achievements of Canadian soldiers on battlefields such as Ypres, Vimy and Passchendaele, however, ignited a sense of national pride and a confidence that Canada could stand on its own, apart from the British Empire, on the world stage. The war also deepened the divide between French and English Canada and marked the beginning of widespread state intervention in society and the economy.

(This is the full-length entry about the First World War. For a plain-language summary, please see First World War (Plain-Language Summary).)

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Fort Beauséjour

Fort Beauséjour, on the west bank of the Missaguash River near present-day Sackville, New Brunswick was built 1751-55 by the French as a counter to nearby British Fort Lawrence (near Amherst, NS).

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Fort Chambly

In 1813, during the WAR OF 1812, construction of a vast military complex was undertaken. Insufficient maintenance reduced Chambly to a dilapidated condition, and it was abandoned in 1851. Private restoration in 1882-83 preserved the site, which became Fort Chambly National Historic Park in 1921.

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Fort Duquesne

Fort Duquesne, located at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers at the site of present-day Pittsburgh, Penn, guarded the most important strategic location in the west at the time of the Seven Years' War.

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Fort Frontenac

Frontenac reoccupied the site, rebuilding the fort in 1695, and the post became known as Fort Frontenac. Reinforced by troops under François-Charles de Bourlamaque and later the Marquis de MONTCALM, it nevertheless fell to the British under John Bradstreet in August 1758.

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Fort Haldimand

Fort Haldimand, located on the west promontory of Carleton Island at the east end of Lake Ontario, about 16 km offshore from Kingston, Ontario, was built by the British in 1778 during the American Revolution.

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Fort Henry

Fort Henry, KINGSTON, Ont, was originally built during the WAR OF 1812 on Point Henry, beside Lake Ontario, to guard the outlet to the St Lawrence River and the Kingston Navy Yards.