Canada's History : 2020-08-01

TRADING POST : 28 : 28

TRADING POST

alter the nature of the citizen and the state — with an expectatio­n of care in its best sense and dependence in its worst. A new Canada emerged on other fronts, too. Almost fifty thousand brides who had married Canadian soldiers stationed overseas arrived between 1945 and 1946, along with some twenty-two thousand children. The war brides were spread across the country and became a living legacy of the war. They and their husbands faced many challenges as they moved from the stark excitement and desperatio­n of the war years to the beauty and grind of postwar life. Thirty years later, war bride Peggy A. O’Hara wrote of their impact as a group: “There must be literally hundreds of stories, humorous, exciting, charming, and, yes, sad too, that took place when English war brides came to this country.” Most wartime marriages survived, but some didn’t, contributi­ng to a growing divorce rate in society as a whole. Given that divorce was almost unknown before 1945, this developmen­t hundred million dollars to stimulate home building. Small houses for young families went up quickly in new suburbs across the country. While many of these postwar dwellings have not survived into the twenty-first century, suburban developmen­t remains a fixture of Canada’s cities. The industrial workplace also went through a major shift. During the war, men and women on the home front produced sixteen thousand aircraft, 8,655 ships and small vessels, more than eight hundred thousand military trucks, and more than 1.7 million small arms. As one wartime poster commanded, “Every Canadian must fight.” It included an image of two men — one in military uniform and another, in workers’ overalls. The war production at home was as important as the fight overseas in the unlimited war effort. The totality of the effort and the importance of wartime industry strengthen­ed organized labour, which had been virtually destroyed during the Depression years. Strikes became THE WARTIME LABOUR FORCE HAD INCLUDED 1.2 MILLION WOMEN, INCLUDING 261,000 WHO DID WEAPONS-RELATED WORK. ANOTHER 50,000 WOMEN SERVED IN UNIFORM. increasing­ly common from the midpoint of the war. The labour unrest was due in part to the federal government’s wage and price controls. While these controls made Canada more successful in checking inflation than any other country, workers saw that little of the newly created wealth was being passed on to them. Forced to compromise, the cabinet passed Order in Council PC 1003 in February 1944. The Wartime Labour Relations Regulation­s were a momentous win for labour, as they guaranteed collective-bargaining rights, recognized unions, and outlawed unfair work practices. While labour peace remained elusive, the regulation­s built a firm foundation upon which future generation­s would continue to negotiate. The wartime labour force had included 1.2 million women, including 261,000 who did weapons-related work. Another 50,000 women served in uniform. Many of these women experience­d new-found freedom as they answered the call to step up, received a steady paycheque, and took pride in their contributi­ons. However, the RCAF’s Women’s Division, the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service, and the Women’s Canadian Army Corps were all demobilize­d at war’s end, with some signalled how the traditiona­l view of marriage had been fundamenta­lly shaken, along with so much else in Canadian society. With savings built up from ten billion dollars in wartime bonds, service personnel payments, and few opportunit­ies to buy commercial goods in wartime, people were ready to shop. After victory, they purchased new washers, furniture, cribs, and other goods as the first wave of the baby boom — more than a million births between 1945 and 1950 — washed over the country. However, housing was in short supply. In 1946, it was estimated that at least four hundred thousand homes were needed. The Canadian Legion — which had been formed from several veterans groups in 1926 — pressured all levels of government to act. “It is nothing less than a moral right,” argued the Legion, “that a man who has served his country shall, as far as possible, be re-establishe­d in society.” In response, King’s cabinet created the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporatio­n. This body, which still exists today with a slightly different name, disbursed several 28 AUGUST–SEPTEMBER 2020 CANADASHIS­TORY.CA