This film is part of Free
Canada at War
In 1940 the war still seemed distant to US citizens. But what it was like for the 11 million ‘other Americans’ who were already at war? The March of Time cameras go north of the border to Canada to find out.
A kaleidoscope of images depicts a nation mobilising for war in this 1940 report. Canada entered the war a week after Britain and Roosevelt’s 1940 pledge to come to the aid of her northern neighbour, if invasion threatened, meant that Americans were naturally interested in Canada’s progress. Footage of letters being censored, soldiers on the march, queues to buy war bonds, and pipe-smoking Nazis in internment camps capture the era’s strange mixture of excitement and fear.
In his book ‘The March of Time: 1935 - 1951’, newsreel historian Raymond Fielding notes the odd circumstances by which this film came to be banned in the Canadian province of Ontario. Although the film was an engaging and wholly sympathetic portrayal of Canada’s war effort, the Premier of Ontario, Mitchell Hepburn, felt that the film functioned as propaganda for the Mackenzie King government (which he opposed) and as Chairman of the Board of Appeals for Ontario Board of Censors, banned the film in March 1940. Hepburn’s decision caused March of Time producer Louis de Rochement to remark that the film could be seen everywhere in the world except ‘Russia, Nazi Germany and… Ontario’.