When England had declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, Canada was automatically at war as well, since it was under the British Empire. Canada's wartime prime minister was Robert Borden, who led Canada to become a monumental contributor in World War I. Many young Canadians whom were optimistic, hurried to enlist in what they believed to be a short war and a great way to tour the world, meet new women, and serve their country. However, as the war progressed those soldiers found out that they were greatly mistaken. What they thought would be a short war turned out to be a massive bloodbath known as "the wars to end all wars". However, this war did have some positive impacts on Canada. For example, it motivated Robert Borden to gain Canada its independence and a key player on the world stage during the war.
Canada was one of the major powers throughout the war. When the war was announced, support from Canada was enormous. Enthusiastic Canadians stood for hours at recruiting stations in the terrible heat. One month after the war was declared, 30 000 people had enlisted and many more eager men would later join them. Borden showed Canada's devotion to the cause with the creation of the Military Service Act. After many Canadians had heard about the atrocity of the war, voluntary enlistments declined.
However, in 1916, Borden was faced with arguably the hardest decision of his political career. Although conscription would alienate Quebec and divide the country in two, Robert Borden felt that the cause of the war was greater than that of the country's unity. Borden felt that if Canadians were deeply concerned with the unity of their country, that they would be unified in the war by fighting together for a noble cause. Borden knew that the war was Canada's big chance to prove to the rest of the world its power and significance in the war.
In 1917, Borden passed the bill that made military service compulsory for all men between twenty and forty-five years old. With this bill Canada further paved the road to proving its importance and significance in the war. An efficient munitions industry was another one of Canada's valuable contributions to the war effort. When war broke out, Britain was greatly in need of munitions and Canada was more than willing to help. However, several Canadian manufacturers known as the Shell Committee made huge profits from the sale of faulty equipment to British contractors.
When the news was brought to Borden, he was quick to close down and scrap the Shell Committee. However, the British still needed munitions and Borden wasn't planning on letting the British hang out to dry. As a result Borden created the Imperial Munitions Board (IMB). The board set production records for quantity and variety. The IMB sold their products at very cheap prices, and represented Canada in a positive way by really aiding the war effort. When world War One ended, the country had more than proven itself through the heroics of Canadian soldiers and the by the support of Canadian citizens.
Still, at the Paris Peace Conference Borden had to fight to gain Canada full partnership in the British Empire. The British Prime Minister invited Borden to the Paris Peace Conference to represent the British dominions. However, Borden bluntly refused with the idea that Canada should have its own seats at the conference since too had made many sacrifices and contributions towards the war effort. This leadership taken by Borden was the first step to becoming an independent country. At the conference, Canada signed the Treaty of Versailles in its own right as an independent country, and therefore gaining equality with the major Allied powers. Not only, did Borden win us Canadians an independent country but as a result of attending the conference, Canada was guaranteed a seat at the newly formed League of Nations.
The League's role was to promote peace and punish aggressive nations. Canada had now become a not just a major contributor, but a major power as well. Canada has made many monumental contributions to the war effort due to Borden's leadership. It was because of Borden's determination to participate to the fullest extent possible in World War I, Canada gained a confidence that could take its place alongside other nations on the world stage. Before Borden left office he said, "A great reputation is like a great noise, the louder it is proclaimed the further it is heard.
The laws, constitutions, monuments, actions- all have their limit, but glory spreads itself through many generations, and Canada has done just that". Canada was a colony no more.