New Survey by The Historica-Dominion Institute for Remembrance Day

November 8, 2010

Young Canadians Possess the Lowest Knowledge of the First and Second World Wars, but the Highest Knowledge of the War in Afghanistan

TORONTO (November 8, 2010) – As Canadians prepare to honour veterans and currently-serving Canadian Forces members at Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country, a new poll commissioned by The Historica-Dominion Institute measures Canadians’ knowledge of the First and Second World Wars as compared to their knowledge of the current conflict in Afghanistan.

The online survey of over 1,015 Canadians, conducted by Ipsos Reid, posed three similar questions about each of the First World War, the Second World War, and the War in Afghanistan. Canadians aged 18 to 34 had the lowest knowledge of the First and Second World Wars (59% and 57%, respectively) with Canadians over 55 scoring highest on these questions (72% and 71%, respectively). However, those aged 18 to 34 possessed the highest level of knowledge (72%) among all age groups about the current war in Afghanistan.

Other key findings include:

  • Overall, Canadians have a greater knowledge of the War in Afghanistan (69%) than of the Great War (64%) and the Second World War (63%);
  • When asked about the First World War, most (71%) Canadians know that Canada entered the war in 1914, though some believe Canada entered the war in 1918 (16%), 1929 (7%) or 1910 (5%);
  • Only 56% of Canadians know that Canada entered the Second World War before the United Stated, while 44% believe the opposite. More than half of Canadians ages 18-34 (52%) believe that the United States entered the war before Canada;
  • Most (83%) Canadians know that in 2005 Canadian Forces undertook a renewed combat mission in Kandahar, with few confusing the name of the region as Kabul (9%), Kuwait (7%) or Kananaskis (1%)


“It would appear that Canadians know almost as much about the First and Second World Wars as they do about a war that still makes weekly headlines today. This seems to indicate a healthy - and I hope growing - appreciation of our country’s proud military history,” says Andrew Cohen, President of The Historica-Dominion Institute. “The challenge for us as a country remains to ensure that this knowledge gets passed along to the next generation.”

The survey also found an increase in the number of respondents who plan to attend an official Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11, with 22% of Canadians overall planning to attend, up from 20% last year and 16% in 2008. Furthermore, a majority of Canadians (75%) say that they will observe the customary two minutes of silence at 11 o’clock, as advocated by The Historica-Dominion Institute.

The Historica-Dominion Institute is the largest charitable organization dedicated to Canadian history, identity and citizenship. Its mandate is to build active and informed citizens through a greater knowledge and appreciation of the history, heritage and stories of Canada.

For detailed results, click here.

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Media Inquiries:

Chantal Gagnon
Media Relations
416-506-1867 x 238
(c) 416-575-3627
cgagnon@historica-dominion.ca