Friday, 8 August 2014


The Canadian Government authorized mobilization in an order-in-council on 6 August 1914. 226 Militia commanding officers and the division and district headquarters received lettergrams on Friday, 7 August 1914 stating that mobilization would take place at Valcartier, Quebec and providing instructions on the physical requirements for soldiers wishing to serve in the first Canadian contingent. Each unit was directed to submit the details of men who passed a medical inspection so that the Militia Headquarters could establish quotas and ensure that all units were represented. Final selection would be made at the camp at Valcartier. For many commanding officers, these were the first orders received during the war and the first information received from an official source. Although Militia Headquarters claimed that there was "no trouble at all about equipment or arms, and that there are sufficient supplies available for the active Militia," they were busy placing rush orders for tents, ammunition and thousands of Ross rifles.

It was already apparent that there was a growing requirement for home defence. German agents were reported to be operating across Canada and the first incidents of war hysteria were reported in the press. District commanding officers were instructed to arrest German and Austrian reservists as prisoners of war. Soldiers were called out to protect critical infrastructure and vital points, including Canada's Great Lakes canal system, which included 74 miles of canals and 49 locks. Eventually 9,000 soldiers were employed on security and coastal defence tasks.

The Netherlands, Norway and "Roumania" declared their neutrality as fighting spread across Europe. In the East, the Russians were reported to have suffered setbacks in Poland in East Prussia. Austria formally declared war on Russia and fighting was ongoing around Belgrade. In the West, the Battle of the Frontiers was in progress. The Belgians were holding the Germans at the fortress of Liege and preparing a second line of defences around the fortress of Namur. The Germans were bringing up their siege artillery to deal with Liege. The French forces under Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre began to execute Plan XVII, a major offensive into Alsace and a German trap. The first elements of the 120,000 strong British Expeditionary Force led by Field Marshal Sir John French landed in France. Naval engagements were reported in the North Sea and in the Pacific. New technology was already making its presence felt on the battlefield. Aircraft had already been used for reconnaissance and attacks against ground forces. German Zeppelins had already carried out their first bombing missions and the first Zeppelin was brought down by a Belgian "aerogun" at Harve.