CulminatingEssayDefiningMoments in Canadian HistoryBY: GORDON           Think about all you have, all you haveall accomplished and now think about if WW1 or WW2 was not won by the allies,would you be here today? Now that has been a question many have been asking,would one event small or big drastically change the outcome of one country? Theanswer to that question is still unknown as we can not answer something we donot know.

Think about this, If Adolf Hitler was accepted to the Academy of FineArts Vienna, the school that rejected him, would he become an important figurein the history of Art or still become the ruthless dictator he was? Now we cannot go back in time to answer this question as such a thing may never bepossible, which is why it is important to remember and recognize our past. Itis because of our past events that has made us into who we are. Canada isfilled with countless number of events that has shaped the nation in the 20thcentury.

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Moments like the Halifax Explosion that created the largest man-madeexplosion at the time, the 1920 – 30’s where Canada started becoming moreindependent and the October Crisis where politicians were held hostage, haveall played an important role in shaping our country into who we are today.            Ever since the start of World War 1,Britain has been somewhat dependant on support from their allies due to theirisland geography. Canada being the most notable. By sending large amounts of supplies,munition, and food, Britain were able to sustain themselves even longer. On themorning of the 6th of December 1917, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, twoships collided in the harbour. One being a Norwegian ship named the SS Imo andthe other being a French freighter named the SS Mont Blanc.

The SS Imo wasleaving the Halifax harbour to head to New York City meanwhile the SS MontBlanc was as well trying to leave the harbour to join a convoy where it wouldhave been escorted to Britain. The SS Mont Blanc was carrying 2,300 tons of picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, 35tons of high-octane gasoline, and 10 tons of gun cotton, all very flammable andexplosive. At       8:45 am the 2 ships collided,and the Mont Blanc was ignited. The crew tried signalling the harbour but to noluck. As spectators started gathering at the docks, the fire starting to reachthe explosives and approximately 20 minutes later the boat exploded releasing agiant a mushroom cloud larger than ever seen before. Instantly people near theharbour died and the north end of the city was completely flattened. The deathtoll would later rise to 1800 and injuring 9000 people.

A 20-foot tsunami wouldlater sweep the area creating mud puddles and leaving debris scattered around. Dueto houses being destroyed by the extreme blast from the explosion and theresulting tsunami, 15% of Halifax’s population was left homeless. The explosionwas later declared the biggest man-made explosion at that time. “This perhaps greatestof Canadian calamities killed some two thousand souls, wounded five times thatnumber and rendered twenty thousand homeless” said John G.

Armstrong, grandson of A sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy. The explosion left hundreds blind because offlying glass which became an important reason why the Canadian NationalInstitution for the Blind (CNIB) was created and still exists today. Thedisaster also changed the Canadian Red Cross Organization’s ruling as itincreased its wartime relief response to include disaster response and medicalemergencies. This event also urged the Canadian Government to create its first publichousing which is still up today. In addition, the disaster also led to theadoption of stricter maritime laws not only provincially but internationally.The disaster further increased relations between Canada and The United Statesof America as the people of Boston started sending ships of 100 doctors, 300nurses and 1 million dollars in medical supplies to help support Halifax.

Thiscourage is why Nova Scotia continues to send the biggest Christmas tree toBoston every year. All in all, the Halifax Explosion is one event not to beforgotten, with much of its land in ruins and much of its population gone, itis hard not to feel sympathetic for the people affected. However, to everyproblem there is a lesson to be learned and Halifax definitely learned itslesson to create more maritime laws to prevent such a disaster from once happeningagain.

              The 1920swas a turning point for Canada, with many battles won in the previous decade,Canada had proven itself as a nation worthy of becoming fully autonomous.During the First World War at the Second Battle of Ypres, the Canadians wereoutnumbered by the Germans, they were on the Western Front when suddenly acloud of chlorine gas from the German side came rushing towards them. Some 6000soldiers died because of this attack.

It was the first use of chemical gas as aweapon. Despite the pain and agony, the Canadians were able to stop the Germansfrom penetrating their lines. On July 1st, 1916, in Beaumont-Hamel,France, the Newfoundland Regiment attacked the Germans after errors andmiscalculations were made. They rushed the German lines through no mans landbut were stopped by barbed wire and heavy machine gun fire.

Within 30 minutes,700 out of the 800 Newfoundlanders were killed, missing or wounded. This battleshowed the amount of sacrifice Canada is willing to take to win the war. OnApril the 9th of 1917, the Battle of Vimy Ridge has begun. TheCanadian Divisions were ordered to capture Vimy Ridge from the Germans. Theridge was an important asset to have as it held a view overlooking all theallied lines. The fight to capture the ridge would be hard as previous Frenchattempts had failed, but within 3 days into the battle, the Canadians managedto capture the ridge. By using a new strategy named the creeping barrage, theCanadians were able to keep German forces away from their machine guns and intotheir trenches. The Canadians also had access to new maps made from aerialphotographs to guide their way through the battlefield.

With this battle won,the Canadians were prouder than ever as the Canadian Corps had achieved whatthe French and the British had previously failed to do. With Canada playing akey role in allied victories and showing major contribution to the war, Canadawas given the right to sign the Treaty of Versailles as an independent nation.On January 10th, 1920, the League of Nations was created, and Canadajoined the League as a separate nation from Britain. In September 1922, Turkeythreatened to take over Chanak, Turkey, a British occupied city. When Britainwas notified about the threat, Britain’s dominions were given a call forassistance. The Canadian Prime Minister WilliamLyon Mackenzie King told Britain that a vote through Parliament would have tobe accepted before troops would be sent. This incident is significant as it isan example of Canada increasing its autonomy from Britain. In 1923, Canada andthe United States made an agreement on fishing rights in the Pacific Ocean.

Prime Minister Mackenzie King protested to Britain saying a presence of aBritish official is not needed as it is not their business and protested thatCanada is capable of making their own decisions. Britain withdrew from Canadiantreaty signings and gave Canada the right to sign treaties on their own. In1926, An Imperial Conference was held in London.

Leaders of Canada and otherself government dominions of the British Empire attended the meeting. TheBalfour Report was made after the conference and recognized that all dominionsof Britain would become their own nation but stay apart of the new Commonwealthof Nations. Finally in 1931, the British Parliament passed The Statute ofWestminster, a law declaring that all dominions were able to self-governitself. Canada was finally fully autonomous and equal to Britain in terms ofstatus. Canada becoming fully autonomous has shaped our nation into who we are.If Canada had never became fully autonomous, Canada would never feel equal toBritain. Canada would always feel as a little brother to Britain as Canadawould have to depend on Britain in one way or another. Canada would also nothave such a close culture with the United States like we do today, with thesame television shows, movies, radio shows, and fashion.

With all that beingsaid, Canada had a lot to do to prove itself that it was worth becoming fullyautonomous. Canada had to fight through tremendous amount of battles despitethe consequences that might occur, as well as go through some important timeslike The Chanak Affair, Halibut Treaty, and The Balfour Report which laterinfluenced The Statute of Westminster.           October is the month never to forget in Quebec, not only isit the time of Halloween and Thanksgiving but it is also the time of theinfamous October Crisis. In the 1960’s, Quebec was on the verge of separation.Quebec with its own culture and own language is distinct from Ontario and everyother Canadian province.

Many francophones were becoming mad and wanted Quebecto be a separate country from Canada and in 1963, a group named the Front deLiberation du Quebec or FLQ was formed. The FLQ was a paramilitary group whobelieved in nationalism and socialism. Their goal was to overthrow the current Quebecgovernment and separate from Canada creating an independent nation and a Frenchspeaking society with only francophones.         Sources:  


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