Are You an Expert on Canadian Military History?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: wikimedia Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada

About This Quiz

You can set your scoffing aside and forget the stereotype that Canadians are polite to a fault and will do anything to please other people. Or, if you prefer, you can take it up with the pilots of their Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclones, just some of the deadly planes in their arsenal.

Canada’s welcoming reputation belies centuries of armed conflict with its immediate neighbors and with foreign powers around the world. On land and sea, and in the air, Canada was a major participant in both of the World Wars and helped to turn the tide of battle against German aggressors. Do you know the name of any famous battles featuring mostly Canadian troops?

This country – the second-largest in the world – has tens of thousands of miles of shoreline to defend. Not only has Canada repelled multiple invasions, it’s had to quell internal rebellions, too – and we aren’t talking about rampaging rabid moose.

As with any large, long-established country, Canada has had its share of complicated political situations. And believe it or not, these friendly folks sometimes respond to threats by building massive tank divisions and other technologically-advanced machines of war.

So step into the Canadian Rockies if you dare. Do your best to ace our Canadian military history quiz, and if you fail, perhaps you’ll wander the northern wilderness forever.

In which war did Canadian troops serve together in large numbers, establishing a newfound sense of cultural pride and identity?

Before World War I, Canadian identity was still very much wrapped up its roots with Britain. But after Canadian troops served with distinction in the Great War, the country's military and cultural identity took a distinctively Canadian turn.


On Sept. 10, 1939, Canada declared war on which country?

On Sept. 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and kicked off World War II. Two days later, Britain declared war on Germany, and on Sept. 10, Canada followed suit. America did not declare war until 1941.


From the 1700s to the end of the 1800s, Canada feared an attack by which country?

Territory clashes and complicated political disputes roiled the areas bordering American and Canada for many decades. For many years, the Canadians feared an attack from the south … and those fears turned out to be well-founded.


In what year did women first serve with the Canadian military?

Canadian women first served as nurses during the 1885 North-West Rebellion. The nurses served in four-week rotations, caring for the wounded and coordinating medical supplies and logistics.


What's a common acronym for the Canadian military?

Many people refer to the general military as CAF -- for Canadian Armed Forces. By land, air and sea, the modern Canadian military is a technologically-advanced force to be reckoned with.


Canada's first battles were mostly fought against which group?

Canada's native people -- the aboriginals -- were the first to live in the area. As more and more Europeans and their descendants populated the country, armed clashes were inevitable.


About how many Canadians served in the military during WWII?

World War II consumed nations all over the world, and Canada was no exception. More than 1 million men and women served during the war, creating enormous challenges in Canadian society.


True or false, did any female Canadian nurses die in combat during WWI?

Canadian nurses strode straight into combat zones to save wounded soldiers during WWI. Dozens of nurses lost their lives due to enemy fire.


In what year did Canada finally take full responsibility for its defense?

In 1867, the British colonies of Canada united through the Canadian Confederation. Shortly afterward, the Confederation created its first real army.


What is Canada's navy called?

Founded in 1910, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is the country's sea force. The current force, including civilian employees, numbers fewer than 20,000 personnel.


People in the area of which country invaded Canada in 1775 and 1812?

In 1775, Canada's pesky southern neighbors, the Americans, decided to invade, a conquest that ended badly for the warmongerers. In 1812, as war kicked off against England, America again attempted (and failed) to invade Canada.


In 1899, for the first time, the Canadian government formed formal military units for overseas combat. Where did they go to fight?

In 1899, Canadian troops ventured to the South African War. Also called the Second Boer War, it was a conflict that pitted the British Empire against various elements of South Africa.


When was the Royal Canadian Air Force formed?

In the wake of WWI, as warplanes became a bigger part of combat, Canada formed the Royal Canadian Air Force. Today there are fewer than 20,000 personnel in the air force.


What is the name of Canada's highest decoration for military valor?

In the United States, it's called the Medal of Honor. In Canada, the highest military decoration is the Victoria Cross -- it's the same medal that's used throughout the United Kingdom.


As of early 2018, how many Canadian military personnel have been awarded the Victoria Cross, the country's highest military decoration?

The government awards the Victoria Cross sparingly, offering its honor only to the most valiant of its military. Only 94 people have been awarded the Cross.


At which WWI battle did Canadian troops cement their legacy of valor in combat?

In April 1917, at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canadian troops were tasked with an offensive against the German army. The Canadians won their objective, but it cost them thousands of casualties. In the end, they created a legend for their army that lives on to this day.


True or false, has the United States ever successfully invaded Canada?

In its history as an independent country, the United States only tried to invade Canada once, during the War of 1812. The Americans expected that the Canadians would welcome them with open arms -- instead, Canadian and British forces sent U.S. troops into frantic withdrawals.


The vast majority of Canada's Victoria Crosses were awarded in the wake of which conflict?

Canada contributed untold resources and men to the struggle of WWI. Many of those troops died with valor -- 64 of Canada's roughly 100 Victoria Crosses were awarded due to WWI actions.


In 2001, a major conflict took Canadian forces to which country?

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, America waged a widespread campaign in Afghanistan. As an ally in the war on terror, Canada committed many aspects of its military to the fight.


In the 1885 North-West Rebellion, the government of Canada put down an uprising by which people?

The North-West Rebellion pitted Canada versus the Metis, a group of people who felt that the government had failed them on major issues. Thousands of Canadian troops put down the rebels, who numbered fewer than 300.


In early Canadian history, particularly during the 1700s, a rivalry between which two countries created much violent conflict in Canada?

In the New World, Britain and France vied for control of resources and territory, and the lands of Canada weren't exempt. Queen Anne's War and King George's War both scarred the land and its people.


Why did the WWI Battle of Vimy Ridge serve to unify much of Canada's cultural consciousness?

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a huge undertaking that required four Canadian divisions made up of men from all over the country. It was the first time that troops from all parts of the nation fought together as one.


True or false, was Canada the only country of the Americas that was truly engaged in WWII prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor?

While the Holocaust devoured innocents, America wrung its hands. Canada, on the other hand, was actively working to beat back the Nazis, long before the attack on Pearl Harbor changed the political dynamics of the war.


Why did the United States invade Canada during the War of 1812?

Britain's fearsome navy made it impossible for the United States to conduct any real attack against their enemy. So the Americans directed their fury at British outposts in Canada … and still wound up being chased off.


How did French Canadians react to the American Revolution?

America cast off British rule and began conquering British forts, including some in Canada. French Canadians had no dog in the fight -- they remained neutral.


In 1936, Canada sought to modernize its military by building many _____.

In 1936, Canada -- along with a lot of other countries -- began ramping up its military. It started by building six tank battalions.


Which did the name "Canadian Army" first come into official use?

It wasn't until 1940, as the country plummeted into World War II, that the official name of the fighting force became "Canadian Army."


What's the name of the official newspaper of the Canadian armed forces?

"The Maple Leaf" is the official newspaper of the Canadian armed forces. It was started during WWII as a way of sharing important news regarding the conflict.


What was the nickname for Canadian nurses who served during WWI?

During the Great War, Canadian nurses were officially called Nursing Sisters. But because of their distinctive blue dresses, everyone just called them "bluebirds."


What other term has NEVER been used to describe the Canadian military?

Canada has tweaked the naming of its forces here and there -- sometimes using "Mobile Command" or "Land Force Command." But Caribou Command? Maybe someday.


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