September 10, 1939

Canada enters the Second World War as an independent country

Despite some difficulties, the interests of both language communities are better represented than they were during the First World War.

Aware of how Canadians had been divided during the First World War, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and Minister of Justice Erneste Lapointe delivered a bilingual radio address to announce Canada's intention to enter into the war.

Canada’s armed forces were not yet bilingual, but this time, French-language training centres were put in place, and six French-speaking units were sent to the front. Voluntary participation among Francophones was much higher than in the previous war.

Toward the end of the war, following a plebiscite, circumstances forced Mackenzie King to introduce very limited conscription. Although this created a divide among Canadians, a major crisis, like that of the First World War, was avoided.

Source: National Film Board, Library and Archives Canada, Accession number 1964-087 NPC, C-024309