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Women shipyard workers in Vancouver, 1943

WWII was a war of economic power as well as military prowess. The North American industrial potential was harnessed in order to first keep Britain in the war, second, to keep Soviet Russia supplied, and finally to prepare Britain as the launch point for the Allied re-entry into Europe. To achieve this, the industrial strength of the United States and Canada was to develop overwhelming production capabilities in every industrial and food producing area. A parallel endeavour, especially developed by the United States, was the emergence of an almost assembly-line method of building the needed ships by Kaiser Industries.

The Battle of the Atlantic had an immediate economic impact on the post depression Canadian economy. Britain's need for food, strategic raw material and munitions was to see a Canadian 'call to economic arms'. In addition to military support, Canada became the repository of Britainís economic life's blood.


HMCS Toronto launched in Quebec City, 1943

How this war at sea impacted on Canadaís economy could be seen on the agricultural 'seas of grain' of the prairies. There was competition for the limited manpower. Produce food; produce men of war. New warship building programmes sprang to life in quiet communities in the Great Lakes, along the St. Lawrence and on the Pacific coast. Building hundreds of corvettes, frigates and minesweepers for convoy protective service on the Atlantic was a monumental task. Hamilton steel mills were to answer the call.

The need for the industrial and agricultural product was met from a standing start. Men and women learned new skills and met the challenge.

By mid 1943 the Canadian economy was proving its value as a major contributor to all aspects of the allied cause. The economic impact of the response was to change the face of Canada. The country emerged from the war with an industrial and industrial research capability that was to play an important role in the Canadian post war position as an important world citizen.

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