Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Going to War

This old home is at 1885 Venables and dates back to 1910.

Almost a year ago, I wrote about a sad day in 1914 when the ship the Komagata Maru arrived in Vancouver carrying 375 Indians. The passengers - British subjects - were denied entry. What happened was horrific and if you want to read more, go to this entry.

However, Vancouver did not have long to worry about its racial problems because 10 days later, the country was called to war.

Eighty percent of Vancouverites at the time were British descendants so patriotism ran high. Our first detachment to leave the city was made up of 75 British reservists who left for the front a mere two weeks after World War I was declared.

This is a photo of the ill-fated Komagata Maru taken in 1914. I took this from the Vancouver Public Library collection of photos online.

Many of our citizens volunteered. In fact, Vancouver sent a higher proportion of soldiers to France than any other city in North America. Our population was reduced by 26,000.

Our boys thought it was going to be glamorous.  They get a trip to Europe and would be home soon. Half of the young men who left were either wounded or killed.

And the war transformed life back at home as well. We had experienced a time of prosperity but it was replaced by years of sacrifice and austerity.

Stanley Park was fitted with naval guns, Hastings Park and the Horse Show Building serves as drill grounds for volunteers. Women found their place in society changed as many went to work in factories, raised money, worked for charities and many other duties to help the war effort. They also earned the provincial vote.

Vancouver bought $700,000.00 worth of war bonds and donated more than $1 million to the Red Cross.

Just before midnight on November 11, 1918, the armistice was announced. Vancouver took to the streets to celebrate. Factory and steamer whistles blew in jubilation and the city's revelry must have been intense. This joy lasted into the next decade, some of Vancouver's most prosperous days.

 This is a photo of an arch built to welcome the soldiers returning from World War I. It was erected just east of Hamilton Street. Thanks to the City of Vancouver archives for this photo.

Thanks goes to the book Vancouver, A History in Photographs by Aynsley Vogel and Dana Wyse for the information on Vancouver in World War I and to Bob_2006 at for the information on the house.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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