In 1917, a communist revolution in Russia deposed the emperor and soon after (in early 1918) Russia surrendered to Germany. Since 600,000 German soldiers were situated in Russia at the time, Germany was able to move them to the Western Front, making their group larger and stronger. It made sense that the German commanders wanted to attack right away – because the Allied forces were becoming a lot stronger as well – so they launched a major offensive towards their opponents in August of 1918. This is when the Hundred Days began.
Canada’s Hundred Days took place on August 8 and ended on November 11, 1918. These last hundred days of World War I were filled with grief, trauma, and violence, as well as victory and pride. Canadians engaged in a series of battles and pushed the German Army from Amiens, France to Mons, and their efforts soon payed off. The Germans surrendered, and agreed to an armistice (more commonly known as a truce), resulting in an end to the war.
Although it’s impossible to know for sure how this event was viewed by Canadians in the past, it can be inferred that they were all incredibly relieved that the fighting had ended. World War I was the bloodiest, most consequential conflict that anyone had ever witnessed or heard of at the time, especially since so many people were involved in it. The lives of thousands of loved ones were taken, and although there were many who suffered a lifetime of heartbreak, everyone was beyond grateful for the break from fighting. To bring up the positive aspects however, there were soldiers who got to return to their homes, and reconciliation created feelings of pure joy, even for those who didn’t directly take part in it.
Additionally, Canadians felt proud of their contributions during these hundred days. They played a big role in pushing the Germans to surrender, and all surviving soldiers – as well as the Canadians who didn’t serve – felt a strong sense of accomplishment. This was one of the proudest days in Canada, and it lead to an increase in autonomy, as will be explained in further detail below.
This war was intense on all sides, and there were over 66,000 lives taken, as well as 172,000 severely wounded. All who served left with not only physical scars, but mental scars as well. It was these sacrifices, and the fact that Canada was such a crucial part of ending the war, that lead to Canada’s separate signature on the Peace Treaty, a document of peace between Germany and the Allied Powers that officially ended World War I. As of that moment, Canada was “no longer viewed as just a colony of England, [they] had truly achieved nation status ” (Government of Canada). This event impacted mostly Canada’s social autonomy, but other aspects such as economics and politics as well. They were taken more seriously by other countries after this, and gained a new sense of maturity that wasn’t necessarily there before. Without World War I and the opportunity to sign the Treaty of Versailles, Canada would be a step back in achieving true autonomy as a nation.