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How World War II Improved Canadian Technology

            Throughout history, many events have affected the world’s technology increase, but no event in history has ever affected the change in our technology and economy as much as World War II.

            Mackenzie King was the Prime Minister of Canada during World War II. As the war progressed, vast improvements were made in the fields of communication, transportation, aviation, and basic economic prosperity.

During World War II, Canadian industries built parts for huge bombers and fighter aircraft like the Wasp, Mosquito and the Hawker Hurricane. Their fuselages were constructed of wood cut from British Colombia’s vast forests. Canadians developed new resin glues to aide in the construction of the all-wooden Mosquito fighter and constructed a total of 16,500 aircraft, of which approximately 80% were shipped to Britain for the war. During the war, aircraft production space increased 28 times! – From 500,000 square feet before the war to 14,000,000 feet by the end of the war.

Canada’s ship production technology was also greatly increased during the war. In 1941, the first of the large 10,000-ton merchant ships were taking about 307 days to build. By the end of the war, this production was cut to about 160 days, one ship being built in a record of 112 days.

The steady flow and continuation of government funding for flight research and development resulted in a string of technological advancements. Aircraft designers also decided that the piston engine was not good anymore and that future fighters would all be jet propelled. This realization started possible aircraft performances not even dreamed of. During the late 1940's airline engineers were working to improve on the bad but improving jet engines built during World War II. Commercial aircraft improvements in the 1940's created what has become the jet age. By 1951 the teams that had designed the F-86 and MiG-15 were designing the first fighter able to exceed the speed of sound, Mach 1, in level flight.

During World War II, Canada was the center of wartime research. The national Research Council, the Armed Forces, and various Crown corporations, undertook research in many issues. World War II triggered hundreds of Canadian inventions that are still in use today. Here are some examples:


·              Dr. W. R. Franks of Toronto invented the Anti-G suit during World War II. A pilot wearing an Anti-G suit can stand pressure equal to eight times the force of gravity!

·              During the early war years, the UK essentially passed all microwave and radar development to Canada. Canadian scientists developed the Plan Position Indicator and even built a submarine detection radar in just seven days!

·              Extensive research on magnetism arose from the need to demagnetize ships to avoid mines. This research led to the development of the magnetometer, used today to detect bodies of ore in the Canadian Shield. Based on this work, the technique of cathodic protection against rust has evolved.

·              Canadian scientists developed processes to preserve food. This includes powdered eggs, and powdered milk.

·              Lenses for cameras and telescopes were improved by 50 percent.

·              De-icers for propellers, anti-fog wiper fluids, automatic inflation devices (lifejackets), heated clothing, and low-temperature hydraulic fluids were all developed and improved by Canadian scientists during the war.

·              The NRC (National Resource Council) developed nylon Parachutes, and chemicals to improve oxygen supplies in submarines and to produce drinking water from seawater.

·              A technique developed by Canadian George Klien became the only way of testing and quantifying snow conditions. He also developed successful aircraft skis and improved ASDIC (sonar), and minesweeping techniques used after the war.

·              Artificial fur came about from Canadians working on solutions for improved artic clothing for the military.

·              The Canadian Polymer Corporation developed 90% synthetic rubber.

·              The Banting Institute and the Montreal Neurological Institute carried out studies on motion sickness.

·              Canada triggered the development of ionospheric sounding stations which led to the development of the Alouette satellite, Canada’s entry into satellite technology.

·              Nuclear energy research initiated in Montreal during the war led to the development of the Chalk river atomic energy facilities.


One interesting thing about Canadian industry and technology is how they “geared up” for war, but did not “gear down” after the war. This led to the continuation of important technological advancements right up to the present.

            Also after the war, there was an enormous economic boom. Government programs were established to help veterans to purchase businesses, homes, and education. With government assistance, a total of 53, 788 veterans completed university training. New oil supplies in Alberta and new iron-ore reserves in northern Quebec and Labrador were discovered in the late 1940s. In the 1950’s, hydroelectric power stations were built across the country. Manufacturing expanded and diversified, increasing the gross value from $8 billion in 1946 to $22 billion in 1953. Prime Minister, Louis Saint-Laurent, encouraged and funded new highways and improvement of Canada’s transportation network. The Trans-Canada Highway, a federal-provincial project, was begun in 1949.

            In conclusion, the Second World War was highly beneficial to Canada’s technology, and brought some amazing technology of our modernizing world, unlike any we are likely to see again. Without the occurrence of World War II, we never would have succeeded in creating the technology we have today.


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