Timeline

27 June 1914

Canadian Aviation Events

American Lincoln Beachey becomes the first aviator to “loop-the-loop” in Canada.

28 June 1914

Canadian Life

Heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo, launching a series of ultimatums that lead to the First World War.

4 August 1914 - Canada and the First World War

Canadian Life

(Library of Congress LC-B2-2929-2 [P&P])
(Library of Congress LC-B2-2929-2 [P&P])

Canada entered the First World War on 4 August 1914. In June, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife had led to Austro-Hungary declaring war with Serbia at the end of July. A series of war declarations then followed, leading to all-out conflict between the major European powers: Austro-Hungary and Germany vs. Russia and France. Already involved in secret military discussions with France, Britain declared war on Germany as it invaded neutral Belgium on 4 August. Given its status as a dominion, Canada automatically joined the conflict.

Other countries, including the United States, eventually became embroiled. By the time the fighting ended on 11 November 1918, almost nine million soldiers had died, among them 68 000 Canadians. The number of civilian fatalities during the four years, caused by the war and a deadly influenza pandemic (the “Spanish flu”), reached close to thirty million. Hoping to build a lasting peace and prevent another war of this magnitude, its victors created the League of Nations, which met for the first time on 16 January 1920 in Paris.

15 August 1914

Science & Technology Milestones

The Panama Canal is opened, linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

16 September 1914

Canadian Aviation Events

Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia and Defence, forms the first Canadian air service: the Canadian Aviation Corps.

21 September 1914

Canadian Aviation Events

Canada’s first military aircraft—the Burgess-Dunne—is bought for the Canadian Aviation Corps.

1915 - Einstein and relativity

Science & Technology Milestones

(CAVM)
(CAVM)

In 1915, while teaching at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, in Switzerland, a German-born physicist named Albert Einstein revolutionized our understanding of the universe with his theory of general relativity.

He based this concept on his 1905 theory of special relativity, which explained the behaviour of objects moving at speeds close to the speed of light. Einstein theorized that time and space are not fixed; a fast-moving observer would, for example, age more slowly than one at rest. His theory also stated the equivalence of mass and energy, made famous by the formula E = mc2. This idea—that a small mass could produce a huge amount of energy—led to the development of nuclear weapons in the 1940s and nuclear power stations in the 1950s and 1960s.

Through his theory of general relativity, Einstein linked gravity to the very fabric of the universe. He proposed that the gravity of an object could bend light and even prevent light from escaping a massive object. This latter concept was popularized as the “black hole” theory. It was a Canadian, Dr Tom Bolton, who, in 1968, was the first to observe a black hole, the Cygnus X-1.

1915

Science & Technology Milestones

German scientist Alfred Wegener introduces plate tectonics when he publishes “The Origin of Continents and Oceans.”

January 1915

Science & Technology Milestones

Canadian Vickers begins construction on submarines.

18 February 1915

Canadian Aviation Events

Curtiss Aeroplanes & Motors Limited is incorporated in Toronto, Ontario.

22 April 1915

Science & Technology Milestones

Germans introduce the deadly poison gas chlorine during the Battle of Ypres in France.

3 May 1915

Canadian Life

Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae writes his famous poem “In Flanders Fields.”

7 May 1915

Science & Technology Milestones

A German submarine torpedoes a British ocean liner, RMS Lusitania, killing 1 200.

10 May 1915 - The Curtiss Aviation School

Canadian Aviation Events

(CAVM 18011)
(CAVM 18011)

The Curtiss Aviation School began training pilots on 10 May 1915. The students had responded to the April 1915 announcement made by Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) calling for young Canadians willing to train as pilots for service overseas. Established by the well-known U.S. aircraft manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane, the school was the first in Canada to graduate pilots.

The school began by using Curtiss F flying boats at its Hanlan’s Point site in Toronto harbour, and from June 1915 it used Curtiss JN-3 landplanes at its Long Branch airfield near Toronto. Curtiss Aeroplanes & Motors Limited, a subsidiary of Curtiss Aeroplane, produced eighteen JN-3s in Canada for use on this site and overseas, signifying a first for Canada’s aircraft industry.

By the time the school closed its doors in late 1916, without incurring one serious accident, it had graduated 128 military pilots; 106 served with the RNAS and 22 joined the Royal Flying Corps. A number of the school’s graduates, such as future Mayor of Toronto B. S. Wemp and Air Vice-Marshal A.T.N. Cowley, went on to make their mark on Canadian history.

30 May 1915 - Machine synchronization

Science & Technology Milestones

(CAVM 3863)
(CAVM 3863)

Nine months into the First World War, on 30 May 1915, a new aircraft type fitted with a synchronized machine gun was introduced. This was a crucial date in the history of air warfare, as the new Fokker monoplane proved to be a deadly adversary.

At the start of hostilities in 1914, observation aircraft crews had begun to take weapons on board in order to destroy enemy machines. Using machine guns and attacking from behind had proved effective, but airmen flying aircraft with forward-mounted engines needed a mechanism that would allow them to fire without damaging their own propellers. In April 1915, Roland Garros found propeller-mounted deflectors to be effective in combat, but he and his aircraft then fell into enemy hands. Anton “Anthony” Fokker, a Dutch designer working for the Germans, studied the French device but proposed a different approach: a synchronizing gear that would ensure the machine gun could fire only when the blades of a propeller were not in front of it. These synchronizers were attached to machine guns mounted on single-seat Fokker monoplanes (the first fighter aircraft). As the air war grew increasingly important, air forces and designers concentrated on improving these synchronizing mechanisms—and the aircraft carrying them.

11 July 1915

Canadian Aviation Events

The first two students from the Curtiss Aviation School become licensed pilots.

27 July 1915

Science & Technology Milestones

The first direct wireless message is sent between Japan and North America.

Summer (July–August) 1915

Canadian Aviation Events

First series production of aircraft (JN-3s) begins in Canada under Curtiss Aeroplanes & Motors Limited.

3 September 1915

Canadian Aviation Events

The Curtiss Canada bomber—the first multi-engined aircraft built and flown in Canada—makes its first flight.

21 October 1915

Science & Technology Milestones

The first direct radio-telephone call is made between North America and Europe.

November 1915

Canadian Life

The Canadian-based Imperial Munitions Board, responsible for awarding war contracts to Canadian companies, is founded.

12 December 1915

Science & Technology Milestones

The German Junkers experimental “Blechesel” or “Tin Donkey,” the world’s first airworthy all-metal aircraft makes its inaugural flight.

1916

Canadian Life

Canada’s National Research Council is formed.

30 June 1916

Canadian Aviation Events

American aviatrix Katherine Stinson makes the first of many flights in Canada.

15 September 1916

Science & Technology Milestones

Tanks are used by the British for the first time during the Battle of the Somme in France.

16 November 1916

Canadian Life

Canadian Sir Max Aitken (later Lord Beaverbrook), founder of the Canadian War Memorials Fund, commissions the first official war art.

12 December 1916

Canadian Aviation Events

The Royal Flying Corps is given approval to create twenty training squadrons in Canada.

15 December 1916

Canadian Aviation Events

Canadian Aeroplanes Limited is incorporated to provide training aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps.

1917

Science & Technology Milestones

The Fordson tractor—the world’s first mass-produced gasoline tractor—is introduced.

1917

Canadian Life

An Act of Parliament incorporates the Canadian Girl Guides Association.

1 January 1917

Canadian Aviation Events

Canadian Aeroplanes Limited completes its prototype of the JN-4 “Canuck.”

February 1917

Science & Technology Milestones

The German all-metal Junkers J.I goes into service on the Western Front.

6 April 1917

Canadian Life

The United States enters the war.

9–12 April 1917

Canadian Life

The Battle of Vimy Ridge is fought.

2 June 1917

Canadian Aviation Events

Canadian fighter pilot Captain William “Billy” Bishop embarks on his early morning attack on a German aerodrome, which later earns him the Victoria Cross.

Summer 1917

Canadian Life

The future Group of Seven artist Franz Johnston is commissioned by the Canadian War Memorials Fund to paint pilots in training at Ontario bases.

July 1917 - Conscription crisis

Canadian Life

(Library and Archives Canada/PA-002465)
(Library and Archives Canada/PA-002465)

Canada’s Military Service Act—introducing overseas conscription—was passed in July 1917, but not without controversy.

At the start of 1917, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) fighting in Europe faced serious manpower shortages. Tens of thousands of Canadians had been killed or wounded, and the number of recruits was dropping. Returning from an Imperial Conference in London, Prime Minister Robert Borden proposed introducing compulsory military service to reinforce the CEF. His announcement shocked farm and labour groups across the country, and highlighted a split between English-speaking (pro-conscription) and French-speaking (anti-conscription) Canadians.

Following stormy debate in Parliament, the Military Service Act was, however, passed. Fearing the conscription issue would affect his popularity, Borden formed a Union government that included many Opposition members. His party won the December 1917 election but his success fuelled English–French antagonism. Around Easter 1918, Quebec City protests against the Act turned ugly and four civilians were shot dead. The shock of the event persuaded both sides to tone down the rhetoric and concentrate on victory.

1 July 1917

Canadian Aviation Events

The Royal Flying Corps forms the School of Aeronautics (based at the University of Toronto) to train student pilots.

1 July 1917

Canadian Life

The 50th anniversary of Confederation.

13 August 1917

Science & Technology Milestones

The most widely used Liberty engine
—the V-12— is ground tested.

20 September 1917

Canadian Life

The Canadian government’s Income Tax War Act becomes law.

6 November 1917

Canadian Life

The Russian Bolshevik Party rises against the government, leading to the world’s first communist state and the birth of the Soviet Union.

26 November 1917

Canadian Life

The National Hockey League is established in Montreal.

6 December 1917

Canadian Life

The Halifax Explosion occurs when a French cargo ship loaded with explosives blows up in Halifax harbour, killing about 2 000 people.

17 December 1917

Canadian Life

The first federal election that allows some Canadian women to vote is held.

Winter 1917

Canadian Aviation Events

Skis for landing on snow, designed by Canadian Aeroplanes Limited, are tested on the JN-4 “Canuck.”

1918

Canadian Aviation Events

Willys-Overland of Canada puts the first aero engine (a Sunbeam Arab) into production in Canada.

11 March 1918

Canadian Life

The first-known case of a global influenza epidemic—“the Spanish flu”—breaks out. It eventually kills more than twenty million people.

1 April 1918

Science & Technology Milestones

The United Kingdom establishes the Royal Air Force.

21 April 1918

Canadian Aviation Events

Canadian fighter pilot Captain Roy Brown is credited with shooting down the feared German ace Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. “the Red Baron.”

24 June 1918

Canadian Aviation Events

The first air mail flight in Canada is made between Montreal and Toronto, aboard a Curtiss JN-4 “Canuck.”

6 July 1918

Canadian Aviation Events

American aviatrix Ruth Law gives her first Canadian exhibition flight in Ottawa, racing Gaston Chevrolet in his automobile.

19 August 1918

Canadian Aviation Events

A U.S. Navy air station becomes operational at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

27 October 1918 - Canadian aviation and the First World War

Canadian Aviation Events

(CAVM 17061)
(CAVM 17061)

On 27 October 1918, Canadian fighter ace William Barker survived multiple attacks by more than fifty German fighters and, despite being injured, downed four of his assailants. The day’s exploits earned Barker a Victoria Cross and worldwide recognition. Coming a few days before the 11 November Armistice, this dogfight was a clear demonstration of the contribution Canadians made to the air war.

For a variety of reasons, Canada did not have its own air force during the First World War, which meant that young Canadians wanting to fly in combat served with the British armed forces, where they were invariably referred to as British rather than Canadian. Although the precise number of Canadians who flew with the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Air Force between 1914 and 1918 is not clear, close to 15 000 individuals may have served as aircrew overseas. As well, more than 7 500 Canadian mechanics worked in the flying schools that were established in Canada to train pilots for duty overseas.

11 November 1918

Canadian Life

The Armistice is declared, effectively ending First World War hostilities.