FRENCH CANADA AND THE WAR
When the Great War erupted in August 1914, Canadians of British descent led the charge to enlist. For French Canadians, reaction to the war was more muted, and there was a general reluctance to embrace what was seen as a European conflict.
By 1917, debates over forced enlistment had led to protests in the streets in Quebec, while in Parliament the politics of conscription was cleaving party loyalties and creating lasting impacts on the political landscape.
However, the notion that French Canadians did not serve in the war is a myth. The most famous Frenchspeaking regiment of the war was the 22nd (French Canadian) Battalion, authorized in autumn 1914. Two members of the 22nd received the Victoria Cross, and the regiment fought at many key battles, including Mount Sorrel, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, and Cambrai. Recent research by historians has revealed that a significant number of French Canadians also volunteered to fight, rather than waiting to be conscripted; however, due to anti-war sentiment in Quebec, these men generally did not discuss their experiences to the same extent as English- Canadian veterans.
French-Canadian officers in Canada in 1918.