Canada Declares War!
September 10, 1939 – Canada declares war on Germany
As the troops were deployed, the women and children stayed behind in North Vancouver and made preparations to support their soldiers overseas.
By 1940, five North Vancouver schools had Army Cadet Corps:
- Queen Mary
- North Shore College
- North Vancouver High
The Army Cadet Corps was a mandatory program for all male students attending these five schools. The children learned a variety of skills from Army drills and Morse code, to rifle handling and calisthenics. The Corps was not intended as training for these students to enter the Army but as a way to instill military values, such as discipline and teamwork. As the Second World War continued, some schools offered Air Cadet Corps and one school opened the Army Cadet Corps to female students.
Youth also supported the war effort through their contributions to the North Shore’s preparedness against enemy attacks. The North Vancouver branch of the Air Raid Precaution (ARP) group, offered courses on emergency training and conducted practice drills, specifically blackouts due to the community’s close proximity to the shipyards. ARP provided an opportunity for North Vancouver residents too young to enlist in the armed forces. During these drills, ARP Wardens would report any issues in their area to Boy Scouts, who served as messengers between the Wardens and ARP Headquarters. Murray Dykeman, former mayor of the District of North Vancouver (1990-96), was one of these Boy Scout “runners” during blackout drills. ARP members wore tin hats and armbands with the ARP logo.
Schools taught wartime skills by holding their own drills, and instructing students on what to do in case of bomb and gas attacks. Led by their teachers, the students practiced putting on gas masks and evacuating their classrooms. In May 1941, one dozen organizations demonstrated their wartime skills at Mahon Park to several thousand spectators. The groups included the North Shore’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.
“My Dad was in the ARP and because I was in boy scouts, St. John’s 7th troop, we got in the ARP as messengers with our bicycles. And when there was an air raid practice, we would go to the post, I think I went to Lonsdale School, reported to Lonsdale school, with my bike. … It never happened, that was preparedness. We had practice black outs and everybody had to have tar paper or some means to cover their windows so the light didn’t shine out of your homes.”
~ Clifford Green
Oral history excerpt, Clifford Green, 10 March 2007. NVMA #172-36