Prior to the First World War, not all Canadians saw their country as a militant nation, and for good reason. Before 1914, Canada did not have a particularly strong military history. The United States had been Canada’s only potential enemy and it was considered much wiser to appease them diplomatically than to try to intimidate them with a show of arms. Even though many people in Canada celebrated the outbreak of war, a quieter section of the population was less enthusiastic about the prospect of getting involved. The author of this article from the Elmira Signet, writing shortly after the one-year anniversary of the war, lamented a certain loss of innocence that had been forced upon Canada by the necessity to take up arms and keep the expansionist German Empire “at bay.” The author hoped that Canadian militancy would subside after the war, but feared that the next generation might never experience what it meant to live without an enemy.
Elmira Signet, August 12, 1915.
Morton, Desmond. A Military History of Canada. Toronto: McClelland and Stuewart, 93, 117.