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The Federal Election (1911)

In 1911, the Canadian federal election saw the end of Wilfrid Laurier’s longstanding Liberal government, which had lasted for 15 years. Liberal federal dominance ended due to the issue of free trade with the United States, and saw the election of a Conservative majority government under Robert Borden. The Liberals supported lower tariffs with the U.S., and the Conservatives used this to their advantage during the 1911 campaign, in which they portrayed the Liberals as anti-British for wanting stronger American economic ties. Liberal trade policy was also  unpopular in  growing manufacturing centers in Canada, including Berlin, Ontario. The Canadian manufacturing sector favoured trade tariffs due to the economic benefits they received. As a result, the 1911 election saw Canadians, who worked in the manufacturing sector, voting Conservative to protect Canadian economic interests. They voted this way to also maintain a Canadian identity unique from the United States. Not only did this demonstrate the growing influence of Canadian workers, it demonstrated budding Canadian nationalism, rooted in imperialism, and separation from the United States.

(Brown, Robert Craig, and Ramsay Cook. Canada: 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed.  Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974; MacKenzie, David, and Patrice Dutil. Canada 1911: The Decisive Election that Shaped the Country. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2011.)


William Daum Euler (1914)  

William Euler was born in Conestogo, Ontario on 10 July, 1875. Euler was elected as Mayor of Berlin in 1914, and served until he ran for federal politics in 1917 against William Weichel as an Opposition (Liberal) candidate, and represented Waterloo North until his appointment to the Senate in 1940. Euler reacted publicly to anti-German sentiments and actions at the outbreak of the First World War.

(PARLINFO, “Euler, The Hon. William Daum.” Accessed April 20, 2014.




Upcoming provincial elections (10 June 1914)

This appeal, published in the Berliner Journal in mid-June, was intended to encourage the German citizens in the Waterloo Region to vote for the upcoming provincial elections. The authors emphasized that the German population would be big enough to influence the elections if everyone exercised their right to vote. The paper begged the people to think carefully and seriously about the candidates and the future of the region and to choose wisely the candidate they thought might be the best for all. The authors were discouraged over the general political apathy among German-Canadians, and argued that they must overcome their lack of attention to political issues. The author self-identified as a Canadian and was proud of being a citizen in this country. Every man who will not fight for his freedom, the author continued, and who would let the politicians restrict his liberty is not worthy of being a citizen in this “beautiful rich country.” The article concluded that it is an “act of self-defense” to vote the right man into the government.

BJ-1914-06-10-Upcoming provincial elections









(“Die kommende Provinzial-Wahl”, Berliner Journal, 10 June 1914)


Prohibition (24 June 1914)

When the discussion over prohibition was being revisited in Ontario in mid-1914, the Berliner Journal tried to give an objective view, but clearly the paper was against it. The Catholic Church in general was against it, because  the Bible did not ban it, but rather gave the advice of moderation. Furthermore, the liturgy required “wine with alcohol”. The article stated that German Protestants and Lutherans were also against prohibition. They too argued that moderation was a virtue, whereas abstinence was just self-sacrifice.

These articles then mentioned a report prepared about prohibition in Canada, which showed that it had not been a successful policy. The money spent on alcohol had actually increased and instead of beer, people tended to drink homemade whiskey instead. In Great Britain, there was less consumption of alcohol without prohibition. A Canadian bishop said that it would be a restriction of the personal liberty to force him into this situation. A human being could not become a better person because of restrictions.

Even in Germany the issue received press coverage. In a speech from Kaiser Wilhelm to soldiers of the marine, he asked them to be abstinent because then they would be stronger and win battles. He thought that encouraging an ideal was more useful than legislation to get rid of alcohol. Drinking was a hereditary defect of the Germans according to the emperor, and not worth trying to stamp out.



(“Prohibition, der Feind von Temperenz”, Berliner Journal, 24 June 1914; „Prohibition in Canada“, Berliner Journal, 24 June 1914; „Der Deutsche Kaiser über Trinken“, Berliner Journal, 24 June 1914)


Provincial Elections (29 June 1914)

On 29 June, local newspapers informed Waterloo Region citizens that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife had been assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia the day before. Although the newspaper reported on this tragedy, newspapers in the region were primarily preoccupied with the provincial election being held on 29 June. The newspapers focused heavily on the election and who was elected as representatives of the region to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. C.H. Mills was elected in Waterloo North and Z. A. Hall in Waterloo South, as Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). The Ontario Conservative Party won its fourth consecutive term in government under the leadership of James P. Whitney. Although, the region was aware of international news, it is evident that in late June and early July 1914 local and provincial news still dominated the news.


Politicians Travel Back to Ottawa (1 August 1914)  

When tensions began to rise in Europe, Canada’s Parliament was not in session and most politicians were away on vacation. As the situation worsened, Prime Minister Borden and other leading politicians made their way back to Ottawa. On the morning of 1 August, Borden arrived back at Parliament Hill. Other leading figures, such as Colonel Samuel Hughes, the Minster of the Militia, were expected to arrive later that day.

A Cabinet meeting was held to discuss what steps needed to be taken to prepare Canada for the possibility of war. If Great Britain declared war, Canada would automatically be at war as well due to their colonial status. It was believed at this point that the first troops that would be called on would be the permanent forces, including the Royal Canadian Engineers and the Royal Canadian Artillery.

(“Canada Will Send Regiment to Front,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 1 August 1914; “Photo Origin: London Free Press, 1 August 1914.”)


Politicians Travel Back to Ottawa (1 August 1914)



The Empire Is At War (4 August 1914)  

At 11 p.m. London, England time (7 p.m. in Waterloo Region) Great Britain declared war on Germany. This meant that Canada too was at war. The declaration of war was presented to the region by the newspapers of the region, which received the news through the wire. At this point, however, it was not known what type of contribution Canada would be giving Great Britain. Canadians waited to find out of Great Britain would accept Canada’s offer of a contingent.

(“Great Britain’s Declaration of War,” Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, 6 August 1914.)


The Empire Is At War (4 August 1914)




Canadian Parliament Makes Preparations for War (4 August 1914)  

On the evening of 4 August, a cabinet meeting was held in Ottawa, to address the financial crisis that was taking place as a result of the war in Europe. Canada’s Minister of Finance, Hon. W.T. White, took measures to ensure that Canada’s finances remained stable during the war. It was the Canadian government’s goal to ensure that business was able to proceed without interruption.

In addition to the steps taken to protect the financial system of the country, the Canadian government also established a system of censorship. A call was made for naval recruits to serve in Halifax for the defence of Canada’s coastline. Although Britain had not yet accepted Canada’s offer for an overseas contingent, Canada took the steps to ensure her own defence.

(“Cabinet to Assist Banks,” Berlin Daily Telegraph, 4 August 1914.)

Canadian Parliament Make Preparations for War (4 August 1914)


King George Addresses the Colonies (4 August 1914)

On 5 August, the Berlin Daily Telegraph reprinted an address to the colonies made by King George V of England on 4 August. King George expressed his gratitude for the immediate assurances that each of the colonies made to Great Britain, that they would give their fullest support to the Motherland. He said:

“I shall be strengthened in the discharge of the great responsibility which rests upon me by the confident belief that in this time of trial my Empire will be united, calm and resolute, and trusting in God.”

Canada and the rest of the empire were officially united in their fight against the Triple Alliance.

(“King George to the Colonies,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 5 August 1914)


King George Addresses the Colonies (4 August 1914)


Truce Between the Parties (4 August 1914)  

On 4 August, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the leader of the opposition (the Liberal party), announced that he was committed to a truce being observed between the Conservatives and Liberals for the duration of the “grave events.” He also stated:

“The policy of the Liberal party under such painful circumstances is well known. I have often declared that if the Mother Country were ever in danger, or if danger even threatened, Canada would render assistance to the full extent of her power.”

It was evident, only a day after war was declared, that both Canadian political parties were fully committed to the war effort, despite the fact that Great Britain had not fully indicated what type of commitment Canada would be offering yet.

(“Cancels Meetings, Sir Wilfrid Will not Bring Strife into Present Situation,” Berlin Daily-Telegraph, 5 August 1914; Photo Origin: London Advertiser, 4 August 1914.)

Truce Between the Parties (4 August 1914)