Stand By the Union Jack: The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire in the Prairie Provinces During the Great War 1914-1918
Small, Nadine Michele
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This study examines the activities of the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (lODE) in the Canadian prairie provinces during the Great War (1914-1918). Although the voluntary work of the lODE is mentioned briefly in most Canadian histories of the war period, the full extent and significance of the Order's wartime role has never been thoroughly examined. This study describes the various Great War interests of the Daughters of the Empire in the West and examines what motivated their successful war work. Furthermore, although Canadian imperialism has been the subject of intense study, the history of those Canadian imperialists who happened to be women has been neglected. Because they were women, the Daughters of the Empire expressed their patriotism in ways that differed from the patriotic expressions of men. The principal sources for this work were the lODE records held at the National Archives of Canada and the provincial archives of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, and a number of private collections of active lODE members and chapters. When Britain declared war against Germany and its allies in August, 1914, the Daughters of the Empire in the three prairie provinces were eager and prepared to play a major support role in order to ensure victory for the British Empire. Acting as an integral part of an efficient, well-organized national Order and energized by patriotic zeal, the IODE in the west made significant contributions to the Canadian and imperial war efforts. The Daughters of the Empire operated an extensive soldier support program and several large-scale wartime projects which they financed through successful fundraising endeavours. The Order also took stances on important political issues which were deemed fundamental to the successful prosecution of the war even though it meant ignoring the official IODE policy of political neutrality. Finally, fearing that there had been a decline in imperial interest and cultural standards amongst English-Canadians and anxious about the consequences of large-scale foreign immigration into the West, the war inspired the IODE to try and improve prairie society through various patriotic, educational, health, social welfare, and economic development programs. Ironically, the Great War brought an end to the imperial ideals that formed the base of lODE ideology, and the society that the Daughters of the Empire worked towards was never realized.