Prior to World War 2, the Canadian economy was in a terrible position due to The Great Depression. A third Gross National Income came from exports, therefore the collapse of the world trade took a big hit on Canadian Economy. Four western provinces were severely affected by this as these provinces solely depended on product export. Between 1929 and 1933 GNE (Gross National Expenditure) fell by 42%. 30% of the labor force was out of work by 1933. The unemployment rate had remained above 12% up until Second World War in 19391. These numbers show the terrible hit on Canadian economy after the crash of Wall Street and therefore showing us how badly Canada need a change in order to improve things and Second World War brought just that. Canada supplied many resources and raw materials to the war and thus its economy was able to boom. Large supplies of crucial highly demanded war assets, the incredible enthusiasm of Canadians and a rapidly increasing manufacturing industries gave Canadian economy an opportunity to grow.
During the Second World War, Canada was able to supply the allied forces with war materials and armored transports which made a crucial difference in winning battles and the war itself. Canada had to face a challenge of developing a strong industrial base from scratch in order to produce weapons, armored transports and war materials2. A strong proof of this comes from the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. Britain had entered World War 2 with 80,000 military vehicles of all types. 75,000 of these vehicles were left behind during the evacuation of Dunkirk. Britain was forced to turn to Canada – particularly their auto industry. Canada was supposed to replace these losses but they did much more than that. Canadian industry produced more than 800,000 military transport vehicles, 50,000 tanks, 40,000 field, naval and anti-aircraft guns along with 1,700,00 small arms3. These production rates clearly show Canadian suppling contribution to the war which allowed their economy to explode. There many other examples that show the benefits of World War 2 on Canada’s economy such as a Veterans Affairs Canada article. This article states that Canadian industries had manufactured large amounts of war materials and other supplies for Canada, United States, and Britain along with other Allied countries. The total value of these supplies was $10 billion – approximately $100 billion today4. This shows just how much effort Canada has put into the war. These contributions were the reasons Canada’s economy was able to succeed and sustain itself. Another viable example is the Department of Munitions and Supply. This department was created in 1940, and it became one of the biggest businesses in the world. It coordinated all purchases made in Canada by the British and other allied forces. Military transport vehicles, tanks, cargo and military ships, aircrafts, guns, ammunitions along with uniforms, hospital supplies, firefighting equipment and hospital supplies as well as minesweeping equipment are examples of what this department was in charge of5. Department of Munitions and Supply besides producing armaments through its branches, the department established plenty of crown corporations such as Victory Aircraft which mainly manufactured bomber planes, Polymer which is am artificial rubber and Research Enterprise which developed high technology such as high magnification scopes and Radars6. These facts and articles are important for they prove that Canadian manufacturing industries have improved and thus allowing the economy to boom.
Canadian economy would not be able to prosper from World War 2 if it weren’t for enthusiastic Canadians passionate to contribute to winning the war against the Axis powers. These Canadians were extremely important for they are the reason manufacturing industries were able to succeed, as after high unemployment rates dues to The Great Depression, Canada needed every worker they could get. At the time Canada’s population was 11.3 million. Little over 1 million workers were engaged in essential war industries and approximately 2,100,000 were engaged full-time in agriculture, communications, and food processing. This was called Essential Civilian Employment7. These workers rushed to work at war supplies factories filling up job spots thus contributing to the economy. Another good example of Canadians contributing to the economy was the agriculture and food processing done for the war. Canadian food export provided an essential lifeline to Britain. By the end of the war, these exports accounted for 57% of British wheat and flour consumption, 39% of bacon, 15% of eggs, 24% of cheese, and 11% of evaporated milk consumed on Britain8. Another strong example of the enthusiasm from Canadian citizens can be seen in their efforts to feeding Canadian troops and allies meanwhile maintaining a good economy. Thousands of students, young adult girls and women devoted their summers to agricultural labor with low paid wages on farms9. This was very crucial for Canada needed to supply Britain with enough food to feed allied forces. This was an important factor as it provided Canada with a good economic boost during World War 2. Lastly, Canadians were able to support their countries economy in war and after it was over with Victory Loans. There have been 9 Victory Loans from 1941-1945. These loans had total cash sales of almost $12 billion. 52% of this came from corporations and the other 48% came from Individuals10. These Victory Loans were crucial for Canada to afford war expenditures thus improving the economy.
Canada’s Manufacturing Industries grew rapidly during World War 2. These Industries were responsible for manufacturing crucial at time military equipment and afterward, civilian everyday need therefore boosting the economy. There are several evidence that shows just how important Canada’s Manufacturing Industries grew during World War 2 and how they contributed to improving Canada’s economy. One example of this is the Canadian Cycle and Motor Co Ltd of Weston, Ontario. Before the war, this company made bicycles and hockey skates, however, once Canada needed to manufacture supplies for the War, Canadian Cycle and Motor took over armaments manufacturing. These armaments included Gun parts, tripods, cradles and pivots for anti-tank guns11. The second example of the growing Manufacturing Industries is the purchase of Howe Candy Company. In 1942 Doerr bought the Howe Candy Company. They moved all their ingredient rations to Howe factory in Hamilton which allowed Doerr to fill the increasing war caused demand for foodstuffs. The North American market was flooded with more products as the demand in the food industry increased. On top of that, the returning combatants and a baby boom presented Doerr an opportunity to expand their business by marketing packaged candies and cookies12. Doerr Company which was renamed to Dare in 1941 is important for it has contributed to the growing market of packaged foodstuffs, therefore, benefiting Canada’s economy. A final example of a rapidly growing Manufacturing Industry is the Canadian Automotive industry. After Second World War, due to a high consumer demand and population growth, Canadian automotive industry was able to grow. European makers were still recovering from the war and Canadian Manufacturers decided to take advantage of that. By the mid-1950s, the industry was booming with new plants and facilities, increased employment and export sales. In the early 1960s, the industry faced some difficulties as Canada’s plants could not keep up with the consumers demand as an increasing number of parts was imported from the United States. As a result of series of other different incidents and bottlenecks, a Canada-US Automotive Products Trade Agreement, or Auto Pact in 196513. The overall Automobile Industry along with the Auto Pact contributed to Canada’s economy as the consumer demand for newer automobile advancements was only increasing.
Canadian overwhelming contribution to the Second World War allowed many of Canada’s industries to grow. Canada’s supply of war assets to Britain and Allied forces, the contribution of Canadian individuals to the war and rapid growth of manufacturing industries allowed Canada’s economy to Boom. Supply of Crucial war equipment and materials boosted Canada’s economy. The enthusiasm of Canadian Individuals helped Canada increase its workforce in manufacturing goods for the war. Manufacturing Industries provided allied forces with armored transports during the war as well as supplied consumer demand after the war. This shows how World War 2 blew up Canada’s economy. Despite World War 2 being a horrific event during which several dozens of millions of people died, it is clear that there were some benefits to it and Canada’s economy is a definite example of this.
1 The Canadian Encyclopedia http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/great-depression/
2 Canada at War RSS http://www.canadaatwar.ca/content-17/world-war-ii/canadian-war-industry/
3 Canadian Production of War Materials http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/material
4 Canada’s Industries Gear up for War http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/industry
6 The Canadian Encyclopedia http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/department-of-munitions-and-supply/
7 Canada’s Industries Gear up for War
8 Wartime Canada http://wartimecanada.ca/essay/eating/food-home-front-during-second-world-war
10 Victory Loans http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/victory-loans/
11 Canada’s Industries Gear up for War
12 Post World War II Economic Boom https://uwaterloo.ca/library/special-collections-archives/exhibits/doerr-dare-story-canadian-business/post-world-war-ii-economic-boom
13 Automotive Industry http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/automotive-industry/