Family Studies

The Battle of the Atlantic and the Canadian Family

Food rationing.

The end of the 1930's saw Canadian families leave one crisis for another. After years of enduring the hardships of the Great Depression, the Canadian family was confronted with another challenge on its mettle—World War II. For a country with a population just a little more than the great city agglomerations of London and New York, the response to this deadly global challenge was met with conviction.

The commitment to confront the Nazi threat resulted in a responsibility not apparent in the previous world conflict; Canada was, from the start, a major partner with Great Britain because of one critical theatre of operation—the Atlantic Ocean. Geography and Commonwealth ties with 'the Old Country' thrust Canada into the front line from the commencement of hostilities.

The Atlantic was the lifeline for Britain. This expanse of ocean was the route across which its life's blood of food, raw materials and strategic war supplies had to traverse. Canada was the outlet for the bulk of these supplies. Through the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia flowed these critical supplies from the Canadian and American industrial and agricultural heartland.

German U-boats had to cut off this supply by sinking those vessels. In response to the threat, young Canadian men and women became members of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Merchant Marine. Across Canada, as before, women assumed roles in industry and agriculture, as well as in the military.

The threats and reality of an economic and strategic war at sea had an impact on family life. Rationing of certain foods, goods and services made for creative responses in the Canadian household. The impacts will be introduced to the Family Studies and Foods students as they explore the fashion and food of the military and civilian population.