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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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Battle of Lacolle Mill

First Skirmish at Lacolle Mill, 1812 This brief skirmish at Lacolle Mill (now Lacolle, Que) during the War of 1812 marked the end of the American campaign to invade Lower Canada and take Montréal in the fall of 1812.

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Canada and the Dutch Hunger Winter

The Dutch Hunger Winter was a severe food crisis that took place in the Netherlands in 1944–45, during the Second World War. By the time the country was liberated by Canadian and Allied forces in May 1945, around 20,000 Dutch people had died from the famine. With liberation came an influx of food and other provisions for the starving population. The Canadian role in liberating the Netherlands resulted in a lasting relationship between the two countries.

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Battle of Châteauguay

From the outset, Hampton's cause was fraught with challenges. Approximately 1000 of the New York militia who were a part of his army refused to cross the border, and during the battle itself, several of his officers were seen abandoning their men and positions for safer ground.

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Battle of Crysler's Farm

Boyd's troops were doggedly pursued by a significantly smaller British force led by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Wanton Morrison. After constant pressure from Canadian Voltigeurs and Tyendinaga Mohawks under Morrison's command, Boyd finally turned his army to confront them.

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The “Van Doos” and the Great War

​As the only combatant unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) whose official language was French, the 22nd (French Canadian) Infantry Battalion, commonly referred to as the “Van Doos” (from vingt-deux, meaning twenty-two in French), was subject to more scrutiny than most Canadian units in the First World War.

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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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Avro CF-100 Canuck

The CF-100 Canuck, manufactured by A.V. Roe Canada (Avro), was the first jet fighter designed and built entirely in Canada. It flew in front-line air defence from 1953 until the early 1960s.

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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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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).