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‘War Savings Bonds sales were huge in North York,’ recalls Allan Westwood. - Hamilton Spectator file photo
‘War Savings Bonds sales were huge in North York,’ recalls Allan Westwood. - Hamilton Spectator file photo

Remembering North York during the Second World War

Susan Goldenberg details life on the homefront during wartime

Most North Yorkers during the Second World War were of English descent and strongly supported England. “They believed that England was always in the right, that it must be saved, that Canada should be at war because England was in trouble,” former North Yorker Allan Westwood said.

He grew up in North York in the 1940s. “War Savings Bonds sales were huge in North York, out of all proportion to the population size even though it was not a wealthy place,” he said.

North York veterans from the First World War, known as “The Returned Men,” volunteered to guard facilities that might be sabotaged, such as electricity, but the police said no.

“The vets wanted to do something,” Westwood said.

The federal government placed rallying advertisements in newspapers across Canada including in the North York newspaper, The Enterprise.

“Stop this Menace,” said one ad depicting the Nazis.

“Let’s Keep Our Canada A Happy Home For Them,” said another, showing young children sleeping. “Buy Victory Bonds.”

A powerful ad, paid for by Dawes Black Horse Brewery, showed a sweet-faced young woman with the caption: “I Gave My Daddy. Buy Victory Bonds.”

Bus company Gray Coach Lines mixed patriotism with commerce in its ad in The Enterprise. “To Beat Berlin Planes Need Gas. Leave Your Car At Home. Gray Coach Lines.”

On June 16, 1942 there was a simulated blackout and air raid as a plane flew over North York’s section of Yonge Street. About 400 spectators crowded the route. Afterward, North York police Chief Roy Risebrough complained to The Enterprise they treated the event like an air show.

A North Yorker retorted: “If a German airplane gets as far as North York, we’re finished.”

Written by Susan Goldenberg. 

Originally published on November 8, 2018, on toronto.com.