Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
March 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Compulsory Military Service



Compulsory Military Service (Conscription). As a result of the falling off of enlistments in Canada, the government of Sir Robert Borden introduced into parliament on June 11, 1917, the Military Service Act, which conscripted the services of unmarried men of military age. Despite the opposition of a wing of the Liberal party, the measure passed both houses by substantial majorities; and in the general elections of 1917 it was emphatically endorsed by the electors, except in the province of Quebec. In operation, the Act was not an unqualified success. It yielded at first a disappointing number of recruits; and in some parts of the country the exemptions granted were out of proportion to those granted in other parts of the country. But eventually over 100,000 recruits were obtained under the Act; and these served the purpose of keeping up what was regarded as a sufficient flow of reinforcements at the front.

[This article was written for the edition of 1935 and repeated, in toto, in the 1948 edition. Hence, it does not discuss the application of conscription in the Second World War. The validity, and accuracy, of several statements made above have been challenged by some historians.]

Source : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 114.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College