M965.199.4061 | Smoke in the Air

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Creative Commons License
Drawing, cartoon
Smoke in the Air
John Collins
About 1939, 20th century
Ink, crayon and graphite on card
38.1 x 28 cm
Gift of Mr. John Collins - The Gazette
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cartoon (19139) , Drawing (18637) , drawing (18379) , war (1452)
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Keys to History

In 1939 Canada had a very small arms industry and relied on other countries for its military equipment. Now other countries desperately needed to keep war materials for themselves and sought supplies abroad. Canada expanded its agricultural and natural resource production and developed its own arms industries. In order to do so, Prime Minister King appointed engineer and politician Clarence Decatur Howe as Minister of Munitions and Supply. Howe quickly mobilized government, private industry and the work force to produce ships, tanks, army trucks, armoured vehicles, aircraft, ammunition, radar and whatever else was needed for the national war effort. The shipbuilding industry, for example, employed a total of 4,000 men before the war and 126,000 men and women by 1943. By 1945 it had built 410 merchant ships, 487 escorts and minesweepers and 3,600 specialized craft.

  • What

    As British war production was needed for home defence, Canada had to develop its own industries to produce military equipment.

  • Where

    C. D. Howe gathered a group of senior Canadian businessmen together to work with him in Ottawa for the new Department of Munitions and Supply.

  • When

    On April 9, 1940, C.D. Howe was put in charge of the Department of Munitions and Supply with instructions to transform Canada's economy to full war production.

  • Who

    C.D. Howe persuaded many of Canada's top executives to work for the Department of Munitions and Supply as "dollar-a-day men." They were paid by their firms during the war but worked on loan to the government for a token amount.