Search for "World War II"

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Second World War (WWII)

The Second World War was a defining event in Canadian history, transforming a quiet country on the fringes of global affairs into a critical player in the 20th century's most important struggle. Canada carried out a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic and the air war over Germany, and contributed forces to the campaigns of western Europe beyond what might be expected of a small nation of then only 11 million people. Between 1939 and 1945 more than one million Canadian men and women served full-time in the armed services. More than 43,000 were killed. Despite the bloodshed, the war against Germany and the Axis powers reinvigorated Canada's industrial base, elevated the role of women in the economy, paved the way for Canada's membership in NATO, and left Canadians with a legacy of proud service and sacrifice embodied in names such as Dieppe, Hong Kong, Ortona and Juno Beach.

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Lady Byng of Vimy

Marie Evelyn Byng, Viscountess Byng of Vimy, viceregal consort of Canada (1921–26), author (born 11 January 1870 in London, United Kingdom; died 20 June 1949 in Essex, United Kingdom). Lady Byng donated the Lady Byng Trophy for good sportsmanship to the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1925 (it was renamed the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy after her death in 1949). She returned to Canada during the Second World War and wrote about her impressions of the country in her 1945 memoir, Up the Stream of Time.

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"Dear Old Pal of Mine"

“Dear Old Pal of Mine” is a pop song from the First World War with music by Gitz Rice and lyrics by Harold Athol Robé. Released by the Victor record label, it was originally recorded in New York City on 1 May 1918 with Irish tenor John McCormack and the Victor Orchestra under conductor Josef Pasternak (Victor 755). It was among the Irish tenor’s most popular 78s. The song is held in the collection of the US Library of Congress.

Editorial

The Somme

It is one of the most haunting place names in history — a small, marshy French river — synonymous now with misery and death. In the summer of 1916, around the Somme valley north of Paris, the British Army began one of the largest campaigns of the First World War. Five hellish months later, more than one million soldiers, including almost 25,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders, had been killed or wounded in a series of battles that gained little for either side (see Battle of the Somme).

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Princess Margriet of the Netherlands

Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet Francisca of the Netherlands, Princess of Orange-Nassau, Princess of Lippe-Biesterfeld (born 19 January 1943 in Ottawa, ON) spent her early childhood in Canada during the Second World War. The annual Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa emerged from gifts of thousands of tulip bulbs from the Dutch royal family. Margriet continues to make regular visits to Canada, strengthening ties between Canada and the Netherlands.

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Wartime Home Front

The two world wars of the 20th century were total wars that involved the whole nation, and the "home front" became a critical part of Canada’s effort.

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Billy Bishop

William Avery (Billy) Bishop Jr., VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC, DFC, ED, First World War flying ace, author (born 8 February 1894 in Owen Sound, ON; died 11 September 1956 in Palm Beach, Florida). Billy Bishop was Canada’s top flying ace of the First World War, and was officially credited with 72 victories. During the Second World War, he played an important role in recruiting for the Royal Canadian Air Force and in promoting the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

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Women in the Labour Force

Women are considered labour force participants only if they work outside the home. In the past women have been expected to be in the labour force only until they marry; this reflects the historical, idealized notion of a society in which the man is the breadwinner and the woman the homemaker.

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Archie MacNaughton

John Archibald (Archie) MacNaughton, soldier, farmer (born 7 October 1896 in Black River Bridge, NB; died 6 June 1944 in Normandy, France). Archie MacNaughton fought in both the First World War and Second World War. MacNaughton rose to the rank of major and was a well-respected officer with the North Shore New Brunswick Regiment. When he was 47 years old, MacNaughton led North Shore’s “A” Company into Normandy on D-Day. He was killed in action while pushing inland from Juno Beach.

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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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Canadian Songs of the First World War

Canadians composed thousands of songs between 1914 and 1918, many of which were intended for the home front. Hundreds of these songs were directly related to the First World War. Popular songs expressed themes such as patriotism, national identity, sentimentality and gender roles and expectations. While early songs stressed patriotism and images of an ideal soldier to encourage recruitment, sentimental songs became more popular by the end of the war, reflecting the loss and sacrifice of Canadians on the battlefront and at home. There was also a shift from songs that supported Britain and the British Empire to those that expressed a Canadian identity.

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Veronica Foster

Veronica Foster Guerrette, Second World War icon, model, vocalist (born 2 January 1922 in Montreal, Quebec; died 4 May 2000 in Toronto, Ontario). Foster worked for the John Inglis Company assembling Bren light machine guns during the Second World War. She was featured on propaganda posters that encouraged women to serve Canada by working in munitions factories. Foster became a Canadian icon representing female workers in the manufacturing industry. After the war, she was lead singer with the dance band Mart Kenney and His Western Gentlemen.

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Canadian Tulip Festival

The Canadian Tulip Festival takes place in and around Ottawa every spring. It is one of the world’s largest tulip displays. During the festival, over a million tulips in over 100 varieties are in bloom in the National Capital Region. The festival’s origins lie in Canada’s role in both liberating the Netherlands and hosting members of the Dutch royal family during the Second World War. After the war, the Netherlands began presenting Canada with tulip bulbs in gratitude. This tradition continues to this day. The inaugural festival was held in 1953. (See also Liberation of the Netherlands.)