timeline

First World War Timeline

The First World War of 1914–1918 was the bloodiest conflict in Canadian history, taking the lives of more than 60,000 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.

WWI-Vimy-troops in wire

June 28, 1914

First World War Timeline 

Franz Ferdinand Assassinated

Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in Sarajevo, setting off a chain of events leading to the First World War.

August 04, 1914

First World War Timeline 

Canada and Newfoundland Enter the First World War

After Britain’s ultimatum to Germany to withdraw its army from Belgium expires at midnight on the third, the British government declares war on Germany the next day. As dominions of the British Empire, Canada and Newfoundland are also at war.

August 04, 1914

First World War Timeline 

McBride Purchases Submarines

Knowing that war was about to break out and fearing attack by German warships, Premier Richard McBride authorized spending $1.1 million for 2 submarines that had been built in Seattle for the Chilean navy.

August 18, 1914

First World War Timeline 

First Internment Camp for “Enemy Aliens”

The first internment camp for “enemy aliens,” meaning people residing in Canada who were born in enemy countries, opened in Fort Henry, ON. Those interned were people of Ukrainian descent (forming the majority of internees), as well as people of German, Turkish, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian origin.

October 03, 1914

First World War Timeline 

First Canadian Contingent

The First Canadian Contingent sailed from Québec City for England. The largest convoy ever to cross the Atlantic, it comprised over 31,000 troops aboard 31 ocean liners escorted by Royal Navy warships. Also sailing in this convoy was a contingent from the British Dominion of Newfoundland, which was still separate from Canada at that time.

January 06, 1915

First World War Timeline 

Princess Patricia's in Action

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry went into action in France, in World War I.

January 14, 1915

First World War Timeline 

1st Canadian Division Arrives

The 1st Canadian Division arrived in France from England, and proceeded to Belgium.

February 26, 1915

First World War Timeline 

McClung's Petition

Suffragist Nellie McClung presented the Alberta legislature with a petition demanding that women be given the right to vote. The right was granted in municipal elections 2 months later.

April 22, 1915

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Ypres

German soldiers release poisonous chlorine gas against the Canadian lines during the second battle of Ypres in Belgium in spite of some opposition to its use from both sides. Soldiers who breathe in the gas have their lungs painfully burned and many choke to death due to a buildup of fluid.

May 03, 1915

First World War Timeline 

"In Flanders Fields" Composed

John McCrae of Guelph, ON, wrote the famous poem "In Flanders Fields." It was composed in 20 minutes at Ypres and first published in December 1915 in the English magazine Punch.

May 08, 1915

First World War Timeline 

Frezenberg Ridge

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry held the south shoulder of the breach over Frezenberg Ridge.

May 15, 1915

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Festubert

The Battle of Festubert was the second major engagement fought by Canadian troops in the First World War. The First Canadian Division was part of a wider British offensive against German lines near the village of Festubert, France, from 15–25 May, 1915.

December 19, 1915

First World War Timeline 

First Canadian Aerial Victory

Captain M.M. Bell-Irving, of No.1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, achieved the first aerial victory by a Canadian when he shot down a German aircraft.

January 01, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Turnbull Invents Variable Pitch

Wallace Turnbull of Saint John built the first working model of the variable pitch propeller, an important development in aviation. A second design was flight tested at Camp Borden in 1927.

January 28, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Manitoba Women Get Vote

Manitoba was the first province in Canada to grant women the right to vote and to hold political office provincially.

February 10, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Anti-German Riot in Calgary

During the First World War, a rioting mob destroyed several German-owned businesses in Calgary, Alberta. The same day, Calgary City Council decided to fire all employees born in countries at war with Canada.

February 21, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Verdun

The Battle of Verdun began. It was the longest and one of the bloodiest battles of WWI. It ended in December 1916 after 328 500 French and 348 000 Germans had died in action.

March 14, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Saskatchewan Women Get Vote

Saskatchewan women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

April 03, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Battle of St Eloi

Troops of the 2nd Canadian Division took part in the Battle of St Eloi, Belgium.

April 19, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Alberta Women Get Vote

Alberta women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

June 02, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Mont Sorrel

Mont Sorrel on the Ypres Salient was captured by German forces from the 3rd Division of the Canadian Corps. Commander Major-General M.S. Mercer was killed and Brigadier-General V.A.S. Williams was captured.

July 01, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Beaumont-Hamel

Newfoundland troops captured Beaumont-Hamel in France on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

September 15, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Canadians Take Courcelette

The 22nd Battalion from Québec, the 25th from Nova Scotia, and the 26th from New Brunswick captured Courcelette and took over 1,000 prisoners.

November 11, 1916

First World War Timeline 

Somme Campaign

During the Somme campaign the 4th Canadian Division captured the main German defensive position called the Regina Trench.

January 01, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Income Tax Introduced

The Income War Tax Act introduced the first income tax in Canada.

April 05, 1917

First World War Timeline 

BC Women Get Vote

British Columbia women (except Asians and Aboriginals) won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

April 09, 1917

Vimy Ridge

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Vimy Ridge

On Easter Monday, four Canadian divisions and one British brigade captured Vimy Ridge, near Arras, France, with a loss of 3578 killed and 7000 wounded. It was a brilliant victory for the Canadians, who sensed a new national awareness.

April 12, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Women Get Vote in Ontario

Women were granted the right to vote and hold public office in Ontario.

April 21, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Collishaw Receives Croix de Guerre

After an air engagement,R. Collishaw evaded several German and mistakenly landed at a German base. He quickly took off and managed to land at a French airfield near Verdun. The French were so impressed with his feat that they awarded him the Croix de Guerre.

May 18, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Borden Announces Conscription

Sir Robert Borden announced his decision in Parliament to implement Conscription. The imposition of conscription on reluctant French Canadians was a failure and bitterly divided the country along French-English lines.

June 02, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Billy Bishop's Dawn Attack

Flying ace William Avery ("Billy") Bishop reported single-handedly raiding a German airfield at dawn and shooting down three enemy planes. He would earn a Victoria Cross for his actions, despite significant controversy over the accuracy of his account.

June 07, 1917

First World War Timeline 

First Elected Women

Louise McKinney and Roberta MacAdams were the first women in Canada elected to a provincial legislature, in Alberta.

July 09, 1917

First World War Timeline 

First Woman Judge in BC

Helen Gregory MacGill was appointed the first woman judge in British Columbia.

August 15, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Storming of Hill 70

The attack on Hill 70 was the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie. It was successful and the Canadians withstood a German counterattack.

August 29, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Military Service Act

The Military Service Act was passed, making most male British subjects up to 45 years of age liable for active military service (Conscription).

September 20, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Wartime Elections Act

Parliament passed the Wartime Elections Act. The federal vote was extended to women in the armed forces, and to female relatives of military men, while disenfranchising citizens of "enemy alien" birth.

October 17, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Borden Announces Union

PM Robert Borden announced the formation of a Union government made up of 12 Conservatives, 9 Liberals or independents, and one labour representative.

October 26, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Passchendaele

The Canadian Corps attacked over muddy terrain during the bloody Passchendaele offensive in Belgium. On November 7, having suffered over 15 000 dead and wounded, the Canadians seized Passchendaele.

November 06, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Passchendaele Victoria Cross Recipients

Actions by Corporal Colin Barron of the 3rd Battalion, and Private James Robertson of the 27th Battalion, CEF at the Battle of Passchendaele earned them the Victoria Cross.

November 20, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Strachan Earns Victoria Cross

Actions by Lieutenant Harcus Strachan of the Fort Garry Horse, C.E.F. at Masnieres, France, earned him the Victoria Cross.

December 06, 1917

First World War Timeline 

Halifax Explosion

At Halifax, the French munitions ship Mont Blanc collided with the Belgian relief ship Imo. The resulting explosion, the largest before the advent of the atomic bomb, killed more than 1,600 people and injured 9,000 in Canada's worst disaster.

January 24, 1918

First World War Timeline 

First Woman MLA in BC

Mary Ellen Smith was the first woman elected to the BC legislature; it was the first election in which women could vote in BC.

February 07, 1918

First World War Timeline 

War Artists Commissioned

Canadian artists F.H. Varley, Maurice Cullen and others were shipped off to England to paint for the Department of Canadian War Records.

March 28, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Anti-conscription Riots

Anti-conscription riots began in Québec City.

April 21, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Death of the Red Baron

Canadian pilot Roy Brown is credited with shooting down the infamous "Red Baron," Manfred von Richthofen, near Amiens. By another account he was brought down by ground fire.

April 26, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Nova Scotia Women Get Vote

Nova Scotia women won the rights to vote and to hold provincial office.

August 08, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Battle of Amiens

Canadian troops advanced through German defences at the Battle of Amiens. Though lesser known than the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Amiens was a major victory. Later deemed the Allies’ most successful day of combat on the Western Front, the attack combined several military tactics. The infantry surged behind an artillery barrage and was supported by tanks, cavalry and aircraft. Amiens hastened the war’s end three months later.

September 02, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Battle of the Hindenburg Line

The Canadian Corps broke open the northern hinge of the Hindenburg Line in France.

September 02, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Peck Awarded Victoria Cross

Lieutenant-Colonel Cyrus Peck, who was MP for the Prince Rupert area while serving in the army, was awarded the Victoria Cross for leading an assault under intense enemy shelling at the Drocourt-Quéant Line.

October 09, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Canadians Capture Cambrai

Canadian troops captured Cambrai, France.

November 01, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Cairns Earns Victoria Cross

Actions by Sergeant Hugh Cairns of the 46th Battalion, C. E. F. at Valenciennes earned him the Victoria Cross (posthumous).

November 11, 1918

First World War Timeline 

Armistice

The Armistice with Germany ended First World War. A total of 628,562 Canadians served in the Canadian armed forces, including 424,589 who went overseas; 60,661 were killed.

June 28, 1919

First World War Timeline 

Treaty of Versailles Signed

The Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement imposed on Germany after World War I, was signed near the French capital at Versailles. It took effect on January 10.

January 10, 1920

First World War Timeline 

Treaty of Versailles in Effect

The Treaty of Versailles ending the First World War took effect. It established the League of Nations, an organization for international co-operation, with Canada as a founding member.