The First World War – 1914 to 1918
Since our foreign affairs were controlled from London, England, as a nation of the British Empire, Canada entered the First World War when Britain declared war on Germany. This conflict, which lasted from 1914 to 1918, is the bloodiest in Canadian history. More than 600,000 men and women served from a nation of just eight million people.
Lambton men responded by volunteering for the 70th and Lambton 149th Battalions. Those who stayed behind on the home front organized and raised money and supplies to contribute to the war effort overseas. Local groups formed in response to the war to raise funds and supplies for the country, such as chapters of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and the Women’s Conservation Committee which collected scrap metal and cloth for the Red Cross.
Even children, such as Petrolia’s Ned McRobie who served as mascot of the 149th, were called upon to “do their bit” and contribute to the war effort.
Men from towns such as Watford, Petrolia and Sarnia fought in the Somme, at Vimy and Ypres. After proving ourselves overseas, Canada emerged from the war as a nation and we were no longer viewed simply as a colony of Britain. While we were respected by the world, the heavy losses Canada incurred contributed to a sense of post-war disillusionment.