Being a Dominion of Britain without any International standing Canada was automatically at war when Britain declared it on August 4, 1914. However, the Governor General declared a war between Canada and Germany on August 5, 1914. The Militia was not mobilized and instead an independent Canadian Expeditionary Force was raised. Prime Minister Robert Borden offered assistance to Great Britain, which was quickly accepted.
With a population in 1914 of just under 8 million, Canada raised an army numbering over 600,000 men. By the end of the war Canada suffered 67,000 killed and over 170,000 wounded, roughly a 35% casualty rate, the highest of any of the Dominions. They fought and died in numerous battles from 1915 through to 1918. To name a few: Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, The Somme, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. Historians consider the battle of Vimy Ridge to be Canada’s ‘coming of age’ as a nation. The war’s greatest impact on Canada was that she emerged from the war as a “Nation” in her own right.
From The Carleton Place Herald, Tuesday, August 11th, 1914
There is no difference of opinion in Canada as to the duty of the Dominion in the present crisis. For many reasons, the people of the Dominion are hastening to the assistance of Great Britain. The war is not one of aggression on the part of Britain but a war of defence forced upon Britain and her dominions by the German Emperor. As a matter of self-interest Canada must do all in her power to meet successfully the possible attacks from the Empire’s foes. Nor is this all. Ranged side by side in the conflict are Britain and France, representative of the loftiest ideals and noblest practice in present day civilization, the nations from which the two great races making up the vast majority of the Canadian people have sprung. Though the great accomplishments of other nations are not to be forgotten, defeat for these countries would mean a set back to what is best in civilization, victory the widening of the bounds of liberty and progress. For these reasons, if there were no others, Canada’s duty is plain and there is no difference of opinion among Canadian leaders or the Canadian people as to prompt, whole-hearted action in its fulfilment. Party differences fade into insignificance in the present crisis. The Liberal leader has declared “a truce to party strife.” Among right-thinking Canadians it is everywhere recognized that this is not the time for party divisions, party debate and party struggle. Canadian public men and Canadian newspapers, for the most part, have recognized this fact, and are proving true to the obligation it imposes upon them to forget partisanship and remember only the needs of Canada and the Empire.