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Banner: From Colony to Country: A Reader's Guide to Canadian Military History

Canadian Military History: An Overview
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Canadian Military History: An Overview
General References


The annual reports of the Department of National Defence, its predecessors and related departments provide a wealth of information regarding Canada's military activities over the years. Prior to Confederation, the Department of Militia of the Province of Canada published its annual report in the Journals of the Legislative Assembly. The other colonies of British North America also produced annual militia reports, sometimes only in manuscript form, but they may be found either in the colonial legislative papers or even in the lieutenant-governors' reports to London, now available at the National Archives of Canada.

After Confederation, the reports of the Department of Militia and Defence were very detailed, although the quality fell off late in the 19th century. When Canada established a navy, the Department of the Naval Service also began issuing annual reports, as did the Air Board with the establishment of an infant Canadian Air Force. Although the Department of National Defence was formed on January 1, 1923 by amalgamating the Department of Militia and Defence, the Department of the Naval Service and the Air Board, the naval service continued to issue reports as a separate department for some years -- a result of a dispute between naval and military chiefs.

After many years of becoming less informative, the departmental annual reports ceased altogether in 1959. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, governmental statements and white papers on defence first supplemented the reports, then filled some of the void left after they ceased. Today, we can use the * Report on National Defence, issued by Ralph O. Campney as Minister in February 1957, followed by * Defence 1959, issued by the Conservative government with George R. Pearkes as Minister. * Explanatory material relating to 1961-62 estimates, of May 1961, serves some of the purposes of an annual report. The return of the Pearson Liberals led to Paul Hellyer's * White paper on defence in March 1964, which served as a blueprint for unification of the Canadian armed forces. The Donald S. Macdonald * White paper on defence (cover title: Defence in the 70s) of 1971 marked the return to an annual report, in a very similar format, which, while clearly a public relations exercise, contained a wealth of factual information. With the publication of Defence 1990 = Défense 1990 the reports were again discontinued as a cost-cutting measure.

Recent defence statements and white papers partially made up for the end of the annual reports. * Challenge and commitment: a defence policy for Canada, 1987, articulated Perrin Beatty's vision for Canadian defence, a vision he was not able to persuade the Conservative cabinet of Brian Mulroney to adopt. Later Conservative policy appeared in Statement on defence policy, Ottawa, Canada = Déclaration sur la politique de défense, Ottawa, Canada in 1991 and the current Liberal rationale is stated in 1994 defence white paper = Le livre blanc sur la défense de 1994.

* Canada. Air Board. - Report. - (1919/20-1922). - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1920-1923.

* Canada. Dept. of Militia and Defence. - Annual report. - Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1867-1922. - Also published in French under the title: Rapport

  • Title varies. Until 1883, the title was State of the Militia of the Dominion of Canada, with further variation in some years. The reports were both published separately and issued as part of Parliament's annual Sessional papers.

Canada. Dept. of National Defence. - Defence = Défense. - Ottawa: Dept. of National Defence, 1972-1991.

  • Annual.

*_____. - Report. - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1923-1959. - Also published in French under the title: Rapport

  • Title varies. Annual, most years.

*_____. - Report on civil aviation. - (1923-1931). - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1924-1932. - Also published in French under the title: Rapport sur l'aviation civile

* Canada. Dept. of the Naval Service. - Report of the Department of the Naval Service. - (1910/11-1922). - Ottawa: King's Printer, 1911-1922. - Also published in French under the title: Rapport du Ministère du service naval

  • Both reports were published separately and issued as part of Parliament's annual Sessional papers.

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