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Post War Planning

(Adapted from an address to the Montreal Rotary Club, November 4, 1941 by General H. F. McDonald)

Post-war planning is a necessary consideration for any military strategist. Both the large-scale mobilization of man-power and the vast expenditure of a nation’s resources can introduce problems that may extend long after the cessation of hostilities. High morale is a potential advantage of proper post-war planning. Men and women will fight better, work harder, and sacrifice more if they feel that there is a vision for the future. Such a vision must enable a military victory to translate seamlessly into post-war peace and well-being for the people who have worked so hard to achieve this goal.


(Adapted from a pamphlet issued by the Minister of Pensions and National Health, June 1st, 1944)

Rehabilitation Program

The objective of Canada’s armed forces Rehabilitation Program was to ensure that every man and woman discharged from the forces was able to earn a living. The plan gave discharged service personnel, where possible, the necessary skills and training to help them find work suited to their wants and needs. The Program ensured financial security to the discharged soldiers while they sought or trained for employment. The Program also granted medical treatment to those in need, as well as financial assistance during the treatment, and provided a pension for those left handicapped as a result of war service.

Post Discharge Re-establishment Order (P.C. 7633)

The order authorized the Department of Pensions and National Health to pay subsistence allowances to a discharged man or woman for any period up to the length of service, or for a maximum of 52 weeks, although the period may be extended in the case of those taking training or completing education.

Vocational Training

If ex-servicemen or women felt a vocational training course would assist in their rehabilitation, they first had an interview with the Veterans’ Welfare Officer. After the interview, the case came before the District Rehabilitation Board, which had the power to approve grants and training. Grants amounted to $60.00 per month for single men or women, and married men received $80.00 with extra allowances for children.

University Training

All discharged soldiers who qualified for university admission at the time of enlistment, or who qualified within fifteen months after discharge, could receive assistance to attend university. The grants were based on a monthly system, taking into account every month of military service. Two years of service would equate to three university years.

Veterans’ Land Act

The main purpose of this act was to assist suitably-qualified ex-servicemen to buy a farm, which they could operate on a full-time basis. Alternatively, the Land Act encouraged ex-servicemen to buy and own a rural or semi-rural home (small holding) provided their main source of income came from and benefited the community at large.


(Adapted from Canadian Affairs, Volume 2 – Number 4, March, 1945)

Upon their return from the front, some veterans reacted with surprise to find large groups of women occupying the same jobs formerly held by men. With the growing demand for surplus labour, women donned working uniforms and assumed positions in factories in what was to become the greatest push for economic equality in history. Returning veterans noticed the change right away, although some couldn’t get used to the idea of a woman in the home rolling out bed, grabbing a lunch pail and marching off to punch a clock.

Changes had taken place. At this point in time, there were about one million women gainfully employed in Canada. This represented more than a quarter of the working population. The number of women in the workforce almost doubled between the years 1939 and 1945. Slightly less than half of the married women working in 1945 expected or hoped to go back to housekeeping after the war. Only 5% of the unmarried women looked forward to quitting.


(Adapted from Canadian Post-war Affairs: Discussion Manual No. 1, 1945)

Civilian life was so much different from what we had been used to that it took awhile to become accustomed to it again. As a soldier, one learns to do things almost automatically, whereas the civilian has the luxury to deliberate a course of action before he or she implements it. We had to learn to click speedily – or else. So we acted – and talked the move over afterward, if at all. In the Service, someone else was usually paid to do the greater part of the thinking.

We were forced to abandon the civilian method of planning things far ahead of time because we never could be sure that there was much time ahead. When the civilian put things off, we were inclined to think he was stalling, but that is his normal way. He had the liberty to decide for himself when he will do what, much more often than the Serviceman.

As a result of the war, we developed certain patterns of action, sets of opinions, habits and attitudes which people at home did not necessarily share, simply because they did not share our training and experience. To reconcile these differences, we had to be prepared to meet each other half way. In time, we learned the benefit of a greater variety of strategies for accomplishing tasks – both quotidian and militaristic – without losing our war-honed ability to make quick decisions when they were needed.

Post War Planning Gallery

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