Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada


Select a letter to browse an alphabetical listing of terms and definitions.

  1. « Previous
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3

Wages and Pensions

The word "soldier" comes from the Medieval French word for pay (solde). A man-at-arms (or warrior) permanently employed in service was "soldé" which became "soldat" (French), "soldier" (English), "soldaten" (German), etc. The term only applied to non-commissioned officers and enlisted men coming from the lower classes of society. Commissioned officers received "appointments" for their services. Pensions were paid to invalided soldiers and sailors in France and Britain from the mid-17th century and this included men, and militiamen, in Canada that qualified for these benefits. Officers leaving the service would receive half-pay. The present army pay and pensions originate from the early practices that, in Canada, were similar to those in the mother country.

See also: Booty.

War art

Primarily paintings and drawing by "war artists", includes some photography when it moves beyond documentary purpose. A great deal of war art has been produced throughout history in an effort to record great battles and military events. This was done by persons of some talent, usually officers, who witnessed the events, or by professional artists working in their studios. Benjamin West’s "Death of Wolfe" at Québec is an example of an artist having never been near the scene of battle and painting a scene that bore little resemblance to the actual event. Canada commissioned its first official war art during the First World War. In 1917, Sir Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, was appointed to head the Canadian War Records and commissioned British and Canadian artists to paint Canadians at war. Maurice Cullen, David Milne, A.Y. Jackson, Frederick Varley, Arthur Lismer and Franz Johnson were amongst the artists selected (the last four being part of the Group of Seven, which formed in 1920 and revolutionized Canadian art). In 1943, during the Second World War, the war art program was set up again with Albert Cloutier, Alex Colville, Charles Comfort, Charles Goldhammer, Paul Goranson, Lawren P. Harris, E.J. Hughes and Frank Varley being amongst the 30 artists commissioned. Women artists such as Mary Lamb Boback, Pegi Nicol MacLeod and Paraskeva Clark painted women in the services. After the war, the war art collection, first housed at the National Gallery of Canada and later transferred to the Canadian War Museum, was ignored and neglected by art critics and historians even though these works had been produced by some of the country’s finest artists. From the 1970s, however, new generations of art enthusiasts discovered the evocative power of works such as Colville’s "Infantry, near Nijmegen, Holland", and realised that the war art collection was a treasure trove of some of the greatest paintings by the best Canadian artists of the 20th century.

Canadian war art, especially that of the Second World War, is distinct from such art in most other countries in that it usually has a strangely quiet mood and few heroic scenes. It is, rather, a calm and incisive depiction of the tragedy that is war. Another, if minor, type of art that is being rediscovered is related to propaganda and publicity. During both world wars, posters encouraging various aspects of the war effort were produced and are now increasingly considered a form of war art.

War correspondent

Accounts of campaigns and battles were, from the earliest times, related by participants in reports, letters and memoirs. In the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries, newspapers and magazines such as the Gazette de France and the London Gazette printed such dispatches and letters. These were often reprinted in colonial papers such as the Halifax or Québec gazettes. The letters of Henry Crabb Robinson to the London Times during the Peninsular War (1808-1814) became famous in their time. It was not until the Crimean War, in 1854, that the first modern professional war correspondent, William H. Russel, appeared on the scene of war and his reports from the front as to the conditions of the army raised considerable concern and outrage at home. Other newspapers and magazines quickly sent correspondents to war zones, and have done so ever since.

The first correspondents sent to battle zones in Canada appear to have been those sent by Montréal and Toronto newspapers during the Fenian Raids of 1866. Canadian newspapers sent correspondents west with the troops in 1885 and there was even a Canadian Illustrated War News appearing that year. Ever since, Canadian war correspondents have been found in places where Canadian troops are deployed.

See also: Censorship, Information and Media

War dead

Fatal casualties occurring in war. Death has alwasy been a part of war, but reliable information or statistics on military losses were compiled until relatively recent times. Canada experienced its greatest losses in war during the 20th century. For the First World War, the Books of Remembrance lists 66,655 names, for the Second Word War it lists 44,893 and for the Korean War 516 men and women that made the supreme sacrifice.

The Books of Remembrance are kept in the commemorative chapel in the Peace Tower of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. These list all Canadians known to have perished in Allied services as well as within their own armed forces. For instance, during the First World War, some 1,500 Canadians serving in British air forces and over 400 Canadians serving in the Royal Navy perished. The official figures of the Canadian Forces are therefore lower encompassing only Canadians who served in the nation’s armed forces. In the First World War, our armed forces suffered 59,769 deaths, in the Second World War 42,042 and in the Korean War 415.

Canadians rest in Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s cemeteries in 70 countries (including Canda), where the graves are identified by a grey granite tombstone bearing the maple leaf, the fallen’s name, number, unit, age, date of death (if known), a cross or star of David and an epitaph chosen by relatives. In the First World War, many bodies were found so mangled that their tombstones state "A Canadian Soldier of the Great War" followed by the evocative epitaph "Known unto God". On May 28, 2000, an unknown Canadian soldier’s remains were interred with full honours at the National War Memorial in Ottawa as Canada’s Unknown Soldier. For thousands of other Canadian soldiers, their bodies were pulverized in battle and never found but 6,994 have their names engraved at the Menin Gate Memorial.

As Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949, the Canadian statistics given above do include its war dead prior to that. During the First World War, 1,602 Newfoundlanders were killed, terrible losses for such a small community, some 233 being killed in a single day at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916. To this day, the first of July is an official day of mourning in Newfoundland, even if it is a national holiday celebrating the 1867 Confederation of Canada elsewhere in the country. During the Second World War, Newfoundland losses amounted to 722. Newfoundlanders’ Commonwealth War Graves Commission tombstones have a moose’s head rather than a maple leaf.

In all, about 116,000 Canadian (including Newfoundlanders) servicemen, servicewomen and merchant marine sailors perished in the two World Wars and Korea. It is second only to Britain for the number of British Commonwealth military war deaths.

War industries and Commerce

Before the 20th century, war industries were almost nonexistent in Canada. Nearly all war materials, including arms, powder and uniforms, were imported from the respective mother countries. The only exception was the round shot and ball produced at the Forges du Saint-Maurice, near Trois-Rivières, from the 1740s. After Confederation, efforts were made to create some autonomy in military supplies. Ammunition was made in Québec from 1882, militia uniforms were made in Canada from 1885 and Ross military rifles from the early 20th century, but this could hardly be considered a "war industry". Large scale military industries developed in Canada following its entry into the First World War. Under the coordination of the Imperial Munitions Board, supplies from Canada flowed to Europe as industries, old and new, produced enormous quantities war material. By 1917, some 600 factories were employing at least 150,000 workers, out of a population of over seven million, making everything from uniforms to submarines. Ammunition was an especially important industry and nearly a third of all ammunition fired by Allied artillery during 1917 was Canadian made. This massive industrialisation coupled with the scarcity of able-bodied men brought tens of thousands of Canadian women into factories for the first time in the nation’s history; at least 35,000 worked in the munitions plants in Ontario and Québec provinces. The entry of large numbers of women into the Canadian workplace quickly had profound political consequences and, in September 1917, women related to serving soldiers were granted the vote in federal elections, a measure extended to all women in May 1918. Following the war, many industries closed but an industrial infrastructure remained. Food production sent to Europe had also greatly increased. A now forgotten but then all-important military production was the export of horses for cavalry and for cartage. After the war, a royal commission on horse racing stressed the importance of maintaining the country’s horse breeding capacity, as it had become the remount service of the British Empire.

Military industry practically ceased to exist in Canada until September 1939 when, within a matter of months, the huge war industry re-emerged practically out of nowhere. Only 16 ships were launched in Canadian shipyards in 1940 but, by 1945, this had risen to 4,419 ships built by 108,000 shipyard workers, some of the largest facilities being in North Vancouver, British Columbia (specializing in the rapid production of "Liberty" military freighters). The aircraft industry was almost nonexistent in 1939 but factories such as the Canadian Car and Foundry Company at Fort William, Ontario, were retooled for the production of Hawker Hurricane fighter planes. It took nearly a year to produce the first one, but production quickly rose to three or four fighters a week. By the end of the war, some 16,400 planes had been built in Canada by 130,000 workers. About 8,600 tanks and armoured vehicles were built between 1940-1945, as well. In fact, everything from uniforms to parachutes was being made in Canada. The unemployment of the 1930s and the Great Depression had vanished and approximately 1,100,000 Canadians worked in war industries by 1944-1945 (261,000 of them women). This represented one tenth of the country’s population, a much higher proportion than in the First World War.