Chief Justice TG Mathers noted that the strongest motivation to serve was the social pressures put on Western men who were still strolling civvy-street. Mathers, a Manitoban pro-conscriptionist, noted that
It is absurd to speak of enlistment at the present day as voluntary. In the cities of the West the man who is not in uniform is made to feel that he is a sort of social outcast. No man who joins the ranks today does so voluntarily. He does so because he can no longer resist the pressure of public opinion. (Granatstein, p. 38)
|Pierre Van Paassen NYPL th-60174|
One afternoon I was accosted on the rear platform of a streetcar by a woman, who was dressed in mourning. She told me that three of her sons had been killed at the front. She showed me their photographs. Suddenly she began to talk very loudly. 'Why aren't you in khaki?' She demanded. 'Why do you dare to stand there laughing at my miser? Why don't you go over and fight? Fight, avenge my boys!' she screamed. 'Madam,' I tried to calm her, 'I am not a Canadian.' That remark set her yelling at the top of her voice. She screamed that she, the mother of three heroes who had died for their king and country, had been insulted by a foreigner, a slacker, a German spy, a Red, and I don't know what else.
I pulled the cord to bring the street car to a halt. I alighted. But the woman followed me off and she kept up her screaming about spies and Germans. A crowd gathered....Somebody stopped me just at the moment when I thought of taking to my heels as the best way out of the predicament. I was immediately surrounded by a mob. A group of business men, who had managed to stay five thousand miles away from where the poppies grow, and who were at that moment emerging from the hotel, gallantly rushed to the woman's aid and forced me to submit, as she pinned a white feather through my coat into my flesh: the badge of white-livered cowardice. The last I saw of her was through a pair of badly battered eyes as she laughingly picked up some of the feathers which had dropped from her bag in the scuffle.
City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1231, Item 508a
Close up of 508, T.S.R. Car No. 6
November 22, 1916
...The following day I enlisted. (Cited in Granatstein, p. 39)
|City of Toronto Archives Fonds 1244, Item 687|
Title Mother of military personnel, World War I
Date(s) of creation of record(s) [ca. 1916]