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Snapshots in History: December 30: Remembering Winston Churchill in Canada

December 30, 2014 | John P. | Comments (0)

 

On December 30 and beyond, take a moment to remember British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his speech to Canada’s House of Commons in Ottawa on December 30, 1941 in which he ridiculed the prediction of French generals, who, as France laid close to defeat in 1940 during the Second World War, said that "’In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.’" Churchill’s immediate response to this assertion in his speech to the Canadian Parliament was “Some chicken; some neck” since Great Britain had continued to fight on with the assistance of British Commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand, had become allies with the Soviet Union in late June 1941 following the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, and more recently, with the United States earlier in December 1941 with the surprise aerial attack at Pearl Harbor.

Some people might wish to compare Winston Churchill the war leader with other political contemporaries such as then-Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. Politically speaking, Churchill’s record was rather mixed with some highs and lows, while W.L. Mackenzie King was the longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian history, although he had tasted defeat himself several times. King was no match for Churchill as an orator but was generally regarded as a wily, political strategist. Consider the following title for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:

 

Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King so similar so different

Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King: so similar, so different / Terry Reardon. Book.

Winston S. Churchill and W.L. Mackenzie King were contemporaries as they were born about two weeks apart in 1874. However, each took a different path into politics, viz.: King through academics and Churchill through military adventure. In the 1930s, Churchill, an isolated backbencher, was extremely prescient about the dangers of fascism and Nazism while King tended towards appeasement of the Nazis. Nonetheless, King came around to the dangers of the fascists and gave full support to Great Britain’s war effort once Canada’s Parliament had declared war on December 10, 1939, one week after the British Parliament had declared war on Nazi Germany. Following a stint as First Lord of the Admiralty, Churchill became the British Prime Minister in May 1940 and conducted the war in a vigorous fashion, including visits to the United States and to Canada during the course of the Second World War.

Read the review on Canada150.com.

 

 

 

If you want to read another book about Churchill’s connection to Canada, consider the following title:

The Great Dominion Winston Churchill in Canada 1900-1954

The Great Dominion: Winston Churchill in Canada, 1900-1954 / David Dilks with Richard Dilks. Book.

Winston Churchill visited Canada eight times during the time period covered in this book as well as one visit to pre-Confederation Newfoundland. Reviewers of this book are divided on whether Churchill’s activities in/visits to Canada are mere appendices to visits to the United States and to more important work and negotiations being carried out with the more powerful American allies. Canada hosted the Quadrant and Octagon Conferences in Québec City in 1943 and 1944 but Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were the main players there along with their military advisors. Previously, Roosevelt and Churchill had met off the Newfoundland coast on board the HMS Prince of Wales in 1941 to ratify the Atlantic Charter. Yet it is also true that Winston Churchill never visited Australia during his lifetime and garnered resentment from Australians for their troops being subjected to severe losses at Gallipoli in the First World War (along with troops from New Zealand and from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment), and for taking greater control of the Royal Australian Navy during both world wars in which Churchill served twice as First Lord of the Admiralty.  

Read the review from International History Review on JSTOR.org.

Read the review from International Journal on JSTOR.org

Read the review from Quill and Quire.

Read an excerpt of the review from the Canadian Historical Review on Project Muse.  

 

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