Monday, September 13, 2010

Canada at the turn of the century and WW1

The Laurier Era:

We are beginning our year with an overview of what the world and Canada were like at the turn of the century. We will focus first on Canada during the years prior to World War One and some of the cultural, economic and politcial issues that helped to shape our country.

Key textbook references for this unit will be in both Issues and SHOC as you follow the prescribed readings laid out in the syllabus. Main themes for this class will be:
  • Racism and Discrimination - Immigration policies by Borden, Vancouver Riot of 1907, Chinese Head Tax, Komagata Maru Incident, Treatment of Aboriginal peoples including reserves and residential schools.
  • Protest and Dissent - Introduction to early civil disobedience includes Nellie McClung and the Famous Five, suffragettes, trade unions
  • Hope and Discovery - New inventions of Victorian Era including the car, radio, manufacturing line; medical discoveries including penicillin
  • The British Bullies - Canada struggles to stand up to Great Britain as they are forced to fight for the British in South Africa during the Boer War, while the Alaskan panhandle is given away to the Americans.
  • Using ONE of the 4 main themes above describe in a couple of sentences - "What was Canada like at the turn of the century?"


  1. I would go so far as saying that the "British Bullies" only toughened up Canada. Because of the British, Canadians felt that they had defined themselves in the world (Boer War), and that this is associated with the rise of nationalism. Canada had to rise up to defend Britiain on many occasions, which gave many Canadians a sense of confidence and fulfillment - there was an optimistic future.

    -Matthew Lau

  2. For "Hope and Discovery", I would say that the technology at hand was mostly a luxury. The automobile was a fairly new product so not many Canadians had this luxury but the other technology like the radio and telephone were extremely popular as communication had become exponentially faster by using electricity to transmit sounds. I would say Canada was not affected too much other than that these inventions might have spurred other people to invent new technology
    - Jeremy Leung

  3. the "British Bullies", because of there colonial success, were able to gain a lot of power and used it in order to control the many areas they had colonized. The British developed a strong economy and were stable, therefore there assets were a necessity for many of its colonies survival. They allowed their colonies a false sense of self governing however many lacked foreign policy, this disadvantage is most imminent in the Alaskan Boundary Dispute where they turned there backs on canada. they basically made strategic moves that they believed would benefit them more.


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  5. Topic: Racism and Discrimination
    Like many parts around the world during the turn of the century, racism and stereotypes were faced by any non-white persons in Canada. The "melting pot" method of immigration was used at the turn of the century meaning that minorities were forced to adapt the "White mans" culture or else they would be discriminated against. This created much tension between the British and the immigrants leading to violent riots. It is clear today that the "melting pot" idea did not work because it is no longer practiced in Canada.
    -Michael Wong

  6. The British Bullies:

    They gained a lot of power during their colonization, therefore they became more successful and developed a powerful economy. Many Canadians agreed to join the British in the South African War, while the Boer War was active and the Alaskan Boundary Dispute was already given to the Americans. Overall, they wanted more benefit for their own country.

    ..Mohammad Kashanipour

  7. The theme of "Racism and Discrimination" in Canada at the turn of the century was an extremely important factor in Canada's development, as the treatment of foreign individuals at that time reflected the general mindset of the North American countries. Fresh off their routing of the Native communities who had lived there for hundreds of years prior, the gradual transition from racism to acceptance was a long and arduous road, due to several factors such as the 'melting pot' consensus shared by Canada's population. For these reasons, understanding Canada's social state at the turn of the century with regards to its treatment of foreigners is extremely vital in analyzing how racism and discrimination have affected the development of modern day Canada.

  8. The theme of "British Bullies" actually caused controversy in Canada. Canada was as a matter of fact divided on the concept of Britain's intervention and control as far as foreign policy was concerned. Prime minister Laurier was often regarded by somewhat too appeasing as he often altered policy. For example, when he decided to create Canada's Navy, independent of Britain, he still turned around and created "a navy that could be handed over to the British in times of war". Bourassa, totally "anti-imperialist" opposed dealing with Britain. So most referred to Canada's navy as the "Tin-Pot Navy". This division within Canada led to the "Canadian Question" which was debated in both Canadian politics and relations.

    -Dylan Sidoo

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  10. Racism and Discrimination

    In the early 1900s Canada was heavily bigoted in which white Protestant civilians and immigrants were seen to be superior. Many Asians were allowed into Canada to build the railway; after the CPR was completed Asian immigrants were imposed with a head tax. The majority of citizen's attitudes were echoed by the Canadian government who denied immigration based on race. For example, the welcoming of Italians was not encouraged and also the Law of Continuous Passage to deny further immigration. Also, aboriginal peoples were mostly not seen regularly as they were racially segregated from the rest of society with reserves and residential schools.
    -Steven Zheng

  11. Protest and Dissent

    In the early 20th century Canada, the entire nation was split between pro British and anti imperialist. The French Canadians opposed a deep relationship with Britain, while the English Canadians supported a pro British society. Furthermore, there were dissents with foreign workers crossing seas to enter Canada because these "foreign" workers took many jobs away from "white" Canadians. Women also fought for their freedom and suffrages such as the famous five (Nelly McLung).

    -Roy Yang

  12. Protest and Dissent
    -Micah Chen

    I believe that the movement for women's rights made such large progress in the early 1900's because of world war 1 and it's consequences. The societal expectations before the war had been that women were housekeepers who stayed home full-time, cooked food and took care of their children and husband. However, as many men had to leave for the war, I think this caused a shortage perhaps of what responsibilities women had as the men they took care of had gone off to war. Also, as the breadwinner of the family had moved away, the women may have needed to somehow earn money and take jobs that men usually took, but were vacant because of the war. Therefore, women themselves may have realized that they were much more capable than they thought in fulfilling traditional male roles. They already had proved that they could do what men could, so they may have realized that they are totally equal to men and could also have the same rights as men, such as the right to vote.

  13. Obviously I think the racism and prejudice was wrong, and definately a hardship for those who suffered under it. But would we all be here if the hatred didn't happen?

    Liam Anderson

  14. Protest and Dissent

    Canada was spilt into two sides in the early 1900s. There was pro and anti loyalist. English Canada was pro loyalist, while French Canada was anti loyalist. This lead to rivalry between the two. While dissents were foreign workers taking canadian jobs.

  15. At the turn of the century Canada was still struggling with its identity as a separate entity form the British Government. "The British Bullies" still very much so controlled Canada during the turn of the century and used this power to their advantage telling us when and where to fight, such as during the Boer Wars, and dealing with foreign affairs on our account in matters like the Alaska Boundary Dispute.
    Charles Turton

  16. "Racism and Discrimination."
    Trying to immigrate to Canada in the early 1900s from Asia was a difficult journey. Especially, for the Indians because of the, Continuous Passage Act, which required the ship to come directly from country of origin. This was extremely hard for the Indians hoping to immigrate because the technology available at this time would not allow them to make such an arduous journey.

    ~ Harmillan Oberoi

  17. Racism and Discrimination:
    At the turn of the century, passage to Canada was either impossible or very difficult for the Japanese, Chinese and Indians. The belief that Asians were less capable of farming was widely used in immigration policies. Above all, the Asians who resided in Vancouver were constantly harassed and poked at by the Europeans who openly displayed their superiority.

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  19. Racism and discrimination
    Canada at the turn of the century was DEFINITELY not a enjoyable time if you were an immigrant. The Canadians felt threatened that they would lose their jobs due to the fact that the other immigrant workers were getting paid with lower wages. In order to save their jobs they had to fight back to secure their jobs. Laurier issued the "melting point" trying to assimilate the asians into white protestants..sound familiar? Well Canada tried to redeem themselves by apologizing to those who were under the policies. But is an apology enough to take back all the riots, scams, and futures and dreams that were crushed?

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  21. It is evident that the issue of “racism and discrimination” was the cardinal method of controlling and limiting immigrants. At the time of the turn of the century, Canada was also plagued with many problems and national crises. The majority of the populace were paranoid and feared the foreigners that were coming to Canada. Eventually, conspiracy theories such as Asian workers accepting cheaper wages to dominate the Canadian economy developed. In order to quell the fear of the populace, the government of Canada enforced immigration laws such as the head tax, the law of continuous passage and the Chinese exclusion acts. All of these were based upon false stereotypes and created by a government without any representation from minorities.
    The cultural assimilation techniques imposed by the government were utilized to deter Asian immigration. This specific issue is significant in the study of British Columbian and Canadian history. As our government today no longer enforces the “melting pot” to assimilate immigrants, we can observe that Canada has taken a tremendous step towards racial equality, and has begun to embrace multiculturalism.
    It is important to realize that the British and European immigrants were newcomers once. The aboriginal peoples were displaced and exploited by the Europeans. The Europeans adjust to the aboriginal way of life, thus the enforcement of racist immigration laws displays the impropriety of white superiority idealogy.

  22. Racism was one of the definite characterizations of British Canada and we see how history repeats itself over and over again even at the turn of the century. British Columbia was no bystander in this racial discrimination and was notorious for the measures it took to maintain White superiority in a relatively foreign environment.
    Even before the advent of Asian immigration, the Native population of British Columbia were effectively evicted from their centuries-old homeland and put on the worst reserve lands possible. This attitude didn't change with the arrival of Asian immigrants and the government, pushed by the 'white' residents of B.C. enacted a series of laws and taxes to keep out and choke immigration from Asia. These include the head tax and the law of continuous passage which worked to exclude Indian and Chinese immigrants. And those who made it were subjected to the Canadian melting pot and extreme violence from British/American residents. The riot in Vancouver that caused upwards of 6000 dollars in damages represented the manifestation of that animosity in a physical form.
    For us as students, studying this puts the racism evident in modern society into perspective. Though still evident, British Columbia has taken huge steps in dealing with racial issues and racially stemmed violence. However, it still remains as an undercurrent to our society, emerging at times to strike irrationally. Thus, by acknowledging this and understanding history, to some extent, we can walk away and not be hypocrites by criticizing racism while being prejudiced against some races ourselves.

  23. The new inventions at the turn of the century, like the automobile, which most consider to be a luxury were mostly beneficial for military purposes.other technological inventions such as the radio and the battery, were important in the advancing military tactics, as they allowed better communication. similar to the car these inventions were sold to the public. the radio and the automobile were not as important and a part of our culture back then. at first they were considered extremely luxurious. some other pretty cool inventions came around like hot dogs, coca cola,blue jeans, cotton candy and the dishwasher. all of these items which were considered luxurious, mostly the dishwasher, have become a standard of living for many in Canada. Looking back at history we can see how these inventions came to shape canadian living.

  24. The British Bullies

    At the turn of the century, Canada being a colony under the British Empire has both goods and bads. The upside is, mostly the fact that Canada had learned the sense of self-protection through the control of Britain. When Britain forced Canada to send troops to fight in the Boer War, Canada only intended to sent volunteer soldiers instead of completely obeying Britain. Although still very much under Britiah control, a slow transition is visible from a oppresive country to an individual one.

    The downside of course, is that being a colony of the British Empire, Canada is continuously being used to provide great economy and wealth for Britain through Canadian industries such as fishing, lumber, mining etc. And although Canada is slowly recognizing itself as a separate country, some things ordered by the British Empire still must be obeyed.

    Edward Zhao

  25. Topic: Racism and Discrimination
    In many cases of immigration over the history, racism is a continuously occurring problem. Of course the Asian Immigration is one of the repetitions. Back then the concept of having a multi cultural society was not fully immersed within the minds of each individual. The cause to these racism is fear and the lack of understanding of the cultures. Both of these will contribute to the idea of "white supremacy". Stereotypes and misunderstandings cause false information such as Asians accepting jobs at lower wage and about Asians taking jobs away from the general population. All these misunderstandings created pressure for the government to create laws such as the Law of Continuous Passage and Head Tax. The Komagata Maru event fully proves this. Although the Chinese immigrants had a proper British passport, they were still denied entrance to Canada. Obviously they were rejected for racist and discriminatory factors. To sum this up, the racism in Canada during WW1 period is caused by the lack of understanding and the fear to unknown.


  26. At the turn of the century, Canada resembled a colony that intrinsically struggled with becoming a racially diverse nation. In particular, white citizens discriminated against racial minorities due to their preconceived judgements. I believe that foreign immigrants were subject to a hostile environment not because of innate Canadian nature, but an institutionalized point of view. This is exemplified by Clifford Sifton's goal of "trying to create a White Canada," therefore influencing the general public to revolt. Immigrants accepted lower wages, thus unemployment was a pervasive fear. Moreover, this hate led to unfortunate events such as the Komagata Maru and the 1907 Vancouver Riots. Overall, immigrants faced an arduous journey towards acheiving equality.

    Saahil Siddoo

  27. Racism and Discrimination
    Since the decline of the fur trade and the settlement of Canada in the mid 19th century, and proceeding through the world wars, condescending and simply untrue stereotypes were prevalent amongst Caucasian Canadians.

    In the beginning, the discrimination emerged naturally from a conflict of resources as settlers take away land from first nations people. However, as history progressed, other factors came into play, such as the belief of European supremacy and absurd ideas such as that white people are "more evolved" than black people, which were prevalent in western societies. Also, due to Asian labour undercutting wages, contempt against them grew as people feared losing jobs.

    Because of all these factors, at the beginning of 20th century, Canada was extremely racist. Caucasians enjoyed rights and privileges while other races were discriminated. Some couldn't even vote! In addition, people viewed the different ethnic groups with disdain and often blocked them from certain professions and even openly accost them in street out of disdain. Even though settling in a community of one's ethnic group would alleviate the situation a bit, overall Canada was a horrible place to live in if one were not white.

  28. The British Bullies
    At the turn of the century,Canada was still part of British rule and because of that, the lives of Canadians were much easier to live. They had the protection and care of the British Empire. Living in one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world, they might have not realized until later that they had the resources, capability, and ruling to become their own country. If anything, WW1 had a great impact on making Canada it's own country because it was one of the major causes to us making our so-called army and navy. Essentially, the British Bullies had helped us along in making Canada it's own country

  29. Racism and Discrimination
    Racism against visible minorities in Canada was unexamined; even though certain minority groups, such as the Indians, had a strong military history in Canada, Canadians disregarded the domestic history and only took into account the non-domestic biases and prejudices: minority groups lack the intelligence and valor to fight white men's war. Thus, visible minorities were at first excluded from WWI. Moreover, white people's animosity against the minorities grew. Since workers from Asia worked for lower wages, white people feared that they might lose their jobs.

    In the turn of the century, I would say that Canada was a place of biases, a place that was not a pleasant home for neither inhabitants nor immigrants. Inhabitants were constantly living in the fear of losing their importance to the immigrants, and immigrants always had to be wary of physical and verbal violence from the inhabitants

    William Kim

  30. Theme 4: While Canada is fast on it's way to becoming a near completely separate entity from Britain, it's ties to Britain are reinforced through the Boer war, where Canada DID send troops to fight in the name of Britain. Canada was in a state of growth and it's overall character was made prouder and seemingly self-confident. Along with the fact that Britain seemed to betray Canada's trust, with the example of the Alaska Pan-handle being given away, Canada felt the need to be more independent.

  31. Hope and Discovery
    Canada, and the world as a whole, began an era of discovery around the turn of the century. New innovations such as the model of the atom, cars, early computers, radios, and penicillin were being discovered within a few decades.
    The revolutionizing of communication that lead to globalization was a large cause of this. As intellectuals around the world began to be able to communicate faster, new innovations were discovered. These innovations were also sometimes about communication which created an upward spiral of technology.
    Other technology helped as well. Discoveries in radioactivity could help the field of medicine; the assembly line could spread new and old innovations.
    At the dawn of the new century, technology was moving continuously upward.

  32. The war was an essential step in defining the roles of minority groups in Canada, which ultimately led to the racial diversity in wealth and power we see today.

  33. "Racism and Discrimination" took place everywhere in Canada at the turn of the century and afterwards and it is unbelievable how far we've come in just 100 years. Focusing on the treatment of First Nations people at this time, the actions of the Canadian population and government has led to notorious disfunctionality and lack of success to this day. Systemic racism led white people to believe that the first nations were savages that could not take care of themselves, therefore they must teach them and show them the way of the white man. They did not even have the chace to fight for their land or ever formally give it up but they were placed on reserves that were far too small for them to continue their traditional way of life. The residential schools were horrible to first nations people, they caused a multigenerational effect that ruined the lives of countless families. Children were taken from their parents and abused which led to substance abuse for both their parents and themselves when they were released.

  34. More trench warfare games!!!

    WWII warfare

  35. In terms of "hope and discovery", the technologies invented during the Laurier era were exteremely important. The radio, for example, could be used to send messages over long distances very rapidly. Penecillin was also discovered during this time. This powerful antibiotic saved countless lives by treating diseases such as syphilis, which were otherwise impossible to treat.Penecillin is still used in today's medicine as a basic antibiotic.

  36. The British Bullies
    ~ Ryan "Unstoppable" Evin

    Around the time of the Boer Wars, Canada was asked to assist the British. Canada might have been weary of declining the British request because Canada may have felt that Britain "looks after" Canada and if they didn't do what they asked, Britain might not assist or help them when in need. However, when the Alaskan Boundary Dispute occurred, Canada felt betrayed and left puzzled, after all, America split from the British Crown while Canada was loyal. Britain wanted favours from Canada while Canada got nothing in return. After this event, Canada wanted more and more to become an independent nation.

  37. Racism and Discrimination was happening all over canada during ww1. Prime minister borden did not let certain minorities such as african canadians and native indians participate in the battle. But as the canadian troops plumited, Canada was forced to send in groups of minorities

  38. please give me a website that describe's canada's racism during WWI for the aboriginal people. Thanks!

  39. Canada became a nation in 1867 and like all new countries faced several important challenges. Wilfrid Laurier became Prime Minister in 1896 and stayed in office until 1911, so he had to take responsibility for many of those challenges.

    In 1900, Canada was mostly a rural society. People worked as

    * farmers, fishers, loggers, fur trappers.

    Cities were growing:

    * Immigrants settled mostly in cities
    * New jobs in manufacturing lured people away from rural area

    -Sajen Gill