Agriculture and the World Wars

The Canadian Agriculture Library collection, accessible through the Canadiana Discovery Portal, contains an impressive collection of official documents relating to Canada's vital agricultural war production during the First and Second World Wars.

The 1915 pamphlet Patriotism and Production: Agricultural War Book features a series of addresses by federal and provincial ministers as well as studies and recommendations on topics ranging from soil, cultivation, and livestock, to finance, training, employment, and export controls. “Farmers of Novia Scotia,” declares that province’s premier, “this is your hour of opportunity . . . A solemn duty has been lain upon your shoulders as farmers. You are expected to enlarge the output of your farms . . . I cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that this work is just as truly practical patriotism as is the work of the soldier in the trenches.” The Manitoba Minister of Agriculture declares, “at such a time the Master of the Soil is the Master of National Fate. . . I feel that the farmer of Manitoba can be relied upon to the last man.” Saskatchewan calls for the breeding of horses to replace stocks depleted by the “terrible slaughter” of the battlefield. Other articles assess the agricultural outlook in Great Britain, Russia, France, and the requirements of the Allied armies and civilian populations.

Fifty Years of Progress on Dominion Experimental Farms, 1886-1936 chronicles the Experimental Farms Service's efforts to develop the scientific expertise and state resources needed to expand and diversify Canada's wartime production:

In a 1939 wartime address, the Minister of Agriculture urges Canadian farmers to repeat their efforts of the First World War. Just as the United States served as "the arsenal of Democracy" by virtue of its heavy industry, Canada would take up its role as "the granary of Democracy," supplying vital foodstuffs to the beleaguered Western Allies: