The year is 1919.
The first world war is at its resolution, but in order to officially declare the conflict between the Allies and Central Powers over, a conference must be held in which the major political powers of the world deliberate Germany’s fate. On January 12th of 1919, a preliminary meeting was held in Paris by representatives from five great powers: Britain, the U.S., France, Italy, and Japan. Originally dubbed the Supreme Council or “Council of Five”, this number was later reduced to four due to Japan’s lack of interest in matters that didn’t directly involve their country. They met to deliberate the responsibility and reparations of the war, prevention for future ones, and what would become the League of Nations. The conference took six months in its entirety and resulted in the creation of the Covenant of the League of Nations, an international diplomatic group tasked with resolving conflicts before they resulted in warfare; the Treaty of Versailles, the peace terms imposed on Germany; the Treaty of Neuilly, the peace terms imposed on Bulgaria, and the Treaty of Saint-Germain, the peace terms imposed on Austria. The Paris conference officially ended with the inauguration of the League of Nations on January 16th, 1920. The “Big Four” (the U.S., Britain, France, and Italy) had achieved their goal of minimizing the armies and lands of the Central Powers to prevent any future wars and creating a council to enforce diplomatic solutions to international conflicts.
While the principal global powers may have gotten their way, many voices struggled to be heard during the deliberations. Canadians wanted their opinions heard as important decisions were made in Paris. As a colony of Great Britain, Canada was considered represented by the British ministers who held power on the councils during the Paris conference. Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden believed fiercely that even as a Dominion, Canada deserved separate representation and signatures at the conference. He argued that Canada’s contributions and the 60,000 dead more than warranted a say in the resolution of the war. As a result of the Prime Minister’s vigilance, Canada signed independently on the Treaty of Versailles, indented under the umbrella signature of the British Empire. Canada as a whole gained more opportunities to share their views on the international stage but was still branded as a British colony.
Canada was considered worldwide as simply a colony of Britain, but with their major contribution on behalf of the global power in the first world war, they gained leverage to use in their fight for more recognition. Canadian politics were taken more seriously after Prime Minister Robert Borden argued his way into a seat at the conference. Having their independent signature on the major document that was the Treaty of Versailles was a huge step in showing that Canada was no longer hidden in the shadows of the British Empire but ready to take the plunge into a more dominant role in international politics. They later went on to become founding members of the League of Nations, a very big accomplishment for the British dominion.
Canada’s autonomy as a developing colony developed politically because of the efforts of Conservative leader Robert Borden. Due to their participation in the war, the principal nations had no choice but to recognize Canada’s autonomous status during the conference. They received an independent signature on the Treaty of Versailles, one of the most important documents to be created at the conference. There were there as Canadians, and the Paris Peace Conference was one of the major stepping stones in Canada’s struggle for recognition and independence. As a result of their presence there, Canada gained more autonomy over their foreign policies and international politics.