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Laurier House National Historic Site of Canada

THE CONSCRIPTION CRISES DURING THE TWO WORLD WARS

I: About the lesson

This lesson explores the roles played by Prime Ministers Laurier and King in the Conscription crises of World War I and World War II, respectively.

Where It Fits Into The Curriculum

Topics:

This lesson fits into the grade 10 section of the Ontario Secondary School Curriculum. Under the heading "Canada and the World", this section of the program encompasses both history and geography, and is divided into courses that cover major epochs in Canadian and World history.

The grade 10 Curriculum offers a course called "Canadian History in the Twentieth Century" in both the "Academic" (University-bound) and "Applied" (Job-marketed oriented) streams. This course "focuses on the events and personalities that have shaped our nation in the past hundred years." It is broken down into five areas. The first of these sections, entitled "Communities: Local, National and Global", contains units on national identity, French-English relations and Canada's role in international conflicts. The Conscription issue forms the mainstay of the section on French-English relations, and the goal of this section is explained as follows in the curriculum:

"Describe how the conscription crises of World War I
and World War II created tension between English Canada
and Quebec."

This lesson aims to help the student achieve that goal.

Time periods:

The year 1917 (WWI) and 1939-1945 (WWII)

Objectives For Students

  1. To define and describe the concept of conscription, and the internal crises this idea created during World War I and World War II;
  2. To explain Laurier's talent for compromise and how it foundered during World War I;
  3. To describe Mackenzie King's involvement in the conscription crisis of World War I and how it modified his approach to the Conscription crisis of World War II;
  4. To understand the role of Laurier House as the backdrop for both events;
  5. To analyze and evaluate newspaper articles (Le Devoir), transcripts of prime ministerial speeches and historical accounts of events.
  6. To investigate the long-term impact of the Conscription issue on French and English relations in Canada.

Material For Students

The materials listed below can be used directly on the computer or printed out, photocopied and distributed to students.

  1. Historical account of meeting between Laurier and Henri Bourassa that occurred on the porch of Laurier House. (extract of Schull's biography of Laurier)
  2. Extract of editorial in Le Devoir, by its anti-conscription editor-Bourassa
  3. Cartoon of Mackenzie King
  4. Later-day assessments of the crises, written by an English historian.

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