“If we do not win this war on the banks of the Rhine, we are going to have to fight it on the banks of the St. Lawrence”

Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen, address to the Senate, September 10, 1939.

In September 1939, Canadians prepared for another war with memories of the Great War still fresh in their minds. It was determined that Canada’s war effort would be concentrated in financial and industrial support, and the first priority would be to secure the nation’s borders.

By the spring of 1940, the progress of the war in Europe had changed dramatically. With the German invasion of Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Holland, and the fall of France, Canadians reassessed their own vulnerability. The spectre of a German victory became real. People feared that there might not always be an England, and disturbing reports confirmed the presence of German U-Boats in the St. Lawrence. The war of “Limited Liability” became “Total War.”

For the next five years, the war effort permeated Canadian society. All actions at home, at work, and at play were focused on victory. Indeed, the Second World War was fought on the home front as well as in Europe and in the Pacific theatre.

May 8, 2005 is the 60th anniversary of VE Day, the end of the war in Europe. Canadians on Guard: The Home Front 1939 – 1945 is dedicated to those who served their country at home and abroad.

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