Through many hardships, veterans aimed to pave the way for a better post-war world. Their dreams, beliefs and actions contributed to the creation of the modern Canada that we know today.

The 1940s and 1950s

For Better or For Worse

Thanks to veterans’ associations as well as experience gained from demobilization in the First World War, the Second World War Veterans Charter was much more adapted to veterans’ needs. It offered training, pensions, land grants for farming, and preference in appointment to civil service for veterans, like in 1918. New privileges, such as university tuition or business loans, were also made available to returned soldiers.

‘Employment seekers, CNE’, [1920?]

City of Toronto Archives,
William James Family Fonds (1244)
Item 1360

The labour movement’s demands in the 1920s and 1930s led to the birth of the Unemployment Insurance Act in 1940. In 1948, the new Industrial Relations and Disputes Investigation Act also protected workers who wished to join a union, while forcing employers to recognize unions created by their employees.

Hover to flip to the back

Veterans from marginalized communities still faced discrimination, but continued their fight for more rights. Fifteen years after the end of the Second World War, Indigineous peoples would obtain the right to vote in federal elections.
As for Black Canadians, activists like Viola Desmond and organizations like the Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People fought for civil rights in the 1940s and 1950s. Their efforts led to the dismantlement of racial discrimination in federal immigrations politicies in 1962. Japanese-Canadians would face the horrors of internment dispossession during the Second World War. They would be granted the right to vote in federal elections for the second time in 1948.

While the League of Nations did not succeed in preventing the Second World War, it was the first example of a worldwide intergovernmental organization devoted to peace and collective security. Learning from its errors, the United Nations, established in 1945, shares the same goals today.