In 1919, Canada’s Guns Still Fired

In 1919, Canada’s Guns Still Fired

As published in the Ottawa Citizen: November 12, 2019.
(previously published in the Inverness Oran in 2018)

Many Great War songs and poems declare that the guns stopped firing on Nov. 11, 1918. Yes, most guns did stop, but Canadian artillery continued to blast away in Russia, supporting an early example of attempted regime change.

Unbeknownst to most citizens, the “Canadian Siberian Expedition Force (CSEF), which consisted of 4,213 men and one woman from across Canada, mobilized alongside 13 Allied armies to replace Lenin’s Bolsheviks with a more friendly government,” according to an article in Legion magazine.

The Canadian force arrived in Siberia in November 1918 and departed shortly after the April, 1919 evacuation of Vladivostok. Nineteen Canadian soldiers died in fierce fighting between Bolshevik partisans and White Russian forces supported by Canada and Britain. They still rest in Vladivostok’s Marine Cemetery on the Churkin peninsula.

Prime Minister Robert Borden’s decision to send troops to Russia was influenced by Canada’s support role in British affairs and his hostility to the Socialist Party of Canada, whose worker’s rights advocacy he considered a menace to law and order. In a way, this western intervention in Russian affairs marked the true beginning of the Cold War, and anti-communist sentiment lingers in Canada’s social fabric and official culture.

Morgan Duchesney, Ottawa