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Militia Acts

Militia Acts provided manpower for defence. Until the 1850s, such Acts in Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick usually imposed compulsory service on males between 16 and 50 or 60, with annual or more frequent enrolment musters.

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Defence Research

Defence research, initiation and development of weapons or technologies likely to be useful in national defence, is a comparatively recent phenomenon in Canada.

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Canadian Peacekeepers in Rwanda

From 1993 to 1995, Canada was a leading contributor to a series of United Nations peacekeeping missions in the African nation of Rwanda. However, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), led by Canadian Major-General Roméo Dallaire, was powerless to prevent the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in 1994. Following the genocide, a new contingent of Canadian troops returned to Rwanda as part of UNAMIR II, tasked with restoring order and bringing aid to the devastated population. Hundreds of Canadian soldiers, including Dallaire, returned from their service in Rwanda deeply scarred by what they had witnessed.

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St Laurent-class Destroyer Escorts

The St Laurents were developed in the early Cold War as a high-speed, long-range antisubmarine frigate to counter the growing Soviet conventional submarine threat. They were the first major warship class designed and built in Canada and incorporated many ground-breaking features, earning them the nickname, the “Cadillacs.” Seven St. Laurents were built. The success of the design inspired a succession of follow-on classes: the Restigouche, Mackenzie and Annapolis classes. A total of 20 ships — all named after Canadian rivers — were built around the same hull configuration and propulsion plant. These iconic ships were the mainstay of the Canadian fleet from 1955 to 1995, including most of the Cold War.

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Canada and Antisubmarine Warfare in the First World War

When the First World War began in August 1914, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was unprepared to fight a war at sea. Founded only in 1910, it consisted of two obsolete cruisers, HMCS Niobe and HMCS Rainbow, and about 350 regular sailors, augmented by 250 reservists. During the war, it was assigned a growing number of tasks, which it was ill-equipped to perform. This included protecting Canadian coastal waters against German U-boats. The RCN scrambled to find ships and sailors but was ill-equipped to fight enemy submarines, which sank several vessels in Canadian waters in 1918.

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Wartime Elections Act

The Wartime Elections Act of 1917 gave the vote to female relatives of Canadian soldiers serving overseas in the First World War. It also took the vote away from many Canadians who had immigrated from “enemy” countries. The Act was passed by Prime Minister Robert Borden’s Conservative government in an attempt to gain votes in the 1917 election. It ended up costing the Conservatives support among certain groups for years to come. The Act has a contentious legacy. It granted many women the right to vote, but it also legitimized in law many anti-immigrant sentiments.

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Battle of Seven Oaks

The Battle of Seven Oaks, or the Victory of the Frog Plain (la Victoire de la Grenouillère), took place 19 June 1816. The battle was a culmination of the Pemmican Wars and the escalating fur trade disputes between the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) and the North West Company (NWC). Pemmican was the food supply that the fur traders depended on to carry out operations. On the day of the battle, a party of about 60 Métis and First Nations men, led by Cuthbert Grant, was heading west of the Forks to deliver pemmican to the NWC canoe brigades on Lake Winnipeg. They were confronted at Seven Oaks by HBC Governor Robert Semple and 28 men (mostly HBC officers and employees). The gunfire and hand-to-hand combat that resulted left Semple and 20 of the HBC party dead. On the Métis side, 16-year-old Joseph Letendre died, and Joseph Trottier was wounded.

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Remembering D-Day: The Making of a Heritage Minute

On 6 June 1944, Canadian Forces landed on Juno Beach. D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion of all time and marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War. In 2019, Historica Canada released a Heritage Minute telling the story of 47-year-old Major Archie MacNaughton, a First World War veteran and leader of the North Shore New Brunswick Regiment’s A Company. In this article, Anthony Wilson-Smith, president of Historica Canada, reflects on the making of the D-Day Minute.

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Aroostook War

The Aroostook War was a confrontation between British and Maine authorities in disputed territory known as Madawaska. During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was in dire need of wood and the region’s pine forests became an important commodity. Claimed by both Maine and New Brunswick, Madawaska became fertile ground for confrontations between the two. The war peaked in 1838‒39 when the governor of Maine, John Fairfield, sent a group, led by Rufus McIntyre, to stop “provincials” from entering territory that Fairfield believed was Maine’s. McIntyre was captured and accused of invading the colony. The conflict ended in 1842 with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which divided the territory along the Saint John River.

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The Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel

On 1 July 1916, Allied forces launched a major offensive in France during the First World War. The opening of the Somme offensive turned into one of the deadliest days in the history of modern warfare. At the village of Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment suffered catastrophic losses. More than 80 percent of the soldiers who advanced that day were either killed or wounded. In one morning, the regiment suffered approximately 700 casualties, including more than 300 dead.

Macleans

Rape in the Military Investigated

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on December 14, 1998. Partner content is not updated.

Tracey Constable was understandably skeptical when, last May, Canada's top soldier, chief of defence staff Gen. Maurice Baril, called on women who had been sexually assaulted in the Canadian Forces to come forward and tell their stories. Constable, a native of Grand Falls, Nfld.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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Brock's Monument, Queenston Heights

The monument to Sir Isaac Brock stands atop Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment at Queenston Heights, overlooking the lower Niagara River. The current monument is the second erected in Canada to honour Brock, a military commander who died during the Battle of Queenston Heights in the War of 1812.

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The Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations

The Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations is a Canadian-led multilateral project aimed at increasing women’s meaningful participation in peace operations. Named after aeronautical engineer and women’s rights pioneer Elsie MacGill, the initiative figures into Canada’s feminist foreign policy and Global Affairs Canada’s commitment to the United Nations’ Women, Peace and Security agenda (see Canada and Peacekeeping).