In the 1900s, the life of a typical Canadian teenager would be very different from a teenager today. Firstly, they are to be expected to behave by their gender, class, and race. This could include what they dress in and what they would say in public. Secondly, in their schools, they will likely rise for the British National Anthem as the National Anthem of Canada has not yet been invented.
Thirdly, communication would be very different from today; communication systems is mostly through mail and books, although faster means of telecommunications like telegrams are also invented. Teenagers, however, are not always accessible to the latest technology, and few families own a landline.
Also, transportation would be much harder for a teenager with only the richest families owning automobiles. Public transportation would also be harder to come by and would be much slower than today. Lastly, much more Canadians were religious in the early 20th century, and thus the church played a much more prominent role than today. No doubt that a teenager would also be influenced by their family, and would therefore be much more religious than a typical teenager today.
A typical day for a Canadian high school student in the early 21st century would be very different from a hundred years ago. It is likely that one would be woken up in the morning by a digital alarm clock or a cell phone as electricity would become an inseparable part of a person’s life.
Clothing could be quite different with the invention of artificial materials such as polyester, although traditional materials such as cotton are also applied. Cooking breakfast would also be an easy task in the early 21st century with the frozen food, supermarkets, and technological advances in cooking, heating, and cooling methods such as microwave ovens and refrigerators would be standard appliances in a typical Canadian household.
The food would also be very different, vegetables grown in large scale farms or shipped across the world to get onto one’s table. Teenagers today also have access to indoor plumbing and clean water. Travelling today would also be much simpler with the widespread use of automobiles and public transit systems. Also, communicating today is very simple with the use of cellular phones, internet, radio and television, and worldwide mailing companies. The life of a typical Canadian teenager is very different from what a teenager would expect in the early 20th century.
Hi Mom and Dad,
It has been a month since I last wrote to you. How are things back home? I am not doing well here in Europe. I have been here for almost a year now, and, I had enough.
I remember arguing at the table for volunteering for the war. You objected, but I did not listen. Now, I know that you were right. I joined the army because most of my friends and my brother did, but that did not prepare for me for the brutality of warfare. We talked at school about how great this war is going to be, we thought of it as an adventure, a chance to see a new continent.
My friends and I talked about going to the frontlines, fire our rifles, march into Germany, and head back to home as heroes in time for Christmas. We could not have been more wrong. What we talked about and what they told me down at the enlistment office promised was pure fantasy, it did not take long before reality finally revealed the horrors of warfare.
Everyday, I have live in the crammed trenches, a series of defensive paths and tunnels. Although providing a defensive line and a strong presence on the battlefield, the conditions are almost unbearable. The lack of sewage disposal, contaminated pools of water left for the rain, rodents like lice and mice worsen the situation even more. I once imagined great cavalry charges across the plains to victory, but the conditions on the battlefield made charging impossible.
Heavy artillery barrages are often exchanged between the two sides in an attempt to destroy or at least weaken the enemy’s hold. But, it has also destroyed all vegetations and made the ground extremely muddy and unstable. Soldiers, animals, and machines are often stuck in the mud. The barrages can sometimes last days while we make futile attempts to get some rest and sleep. Often, the miserable conditions made morale among us very low, and the constant fear of enemy attacks and being ordered to attack ourselves left everyone on the edge. Still, I would rather just stay in the trenches compared to getting shot at.
Going over the top, an order given to the soldiers to leave their trenches and make a desperate and often futile attempt to cross the no man’s land, which refers to the ground between the two trenches, and drive out the enemy. But, it is usually the attackers who were driven out first. No Man’s Land is also getting increasingly dangerous with the usage of landmines, barbed wires, and enemy machine guns.
We were told to walk in lines and march toward the enemy’s position when crossing this region. We were told that this is a very effective strategy, but, it seems to be rather obsolete. By marching in lines, we were easily picked off by enemy machine guns, which often cause heavy causalities for the attackers. More than half of my comrades were killed in one battle because of being misled by our strategists.
Also, there is the problem with the human mind and conscience. Although it is a world of kill or be killed on the battlefield, conscience repeatedly informs me that there must be another option and provides objections the orders given. It is never easy on the human mind in a warzone like this. The grueling conditions, the desperate struggle for survival, the constant fear of orders, and the moans and cries of the injured and dying can seriously degrade one’s logical reasoning. Yet, there does not seem to be an end to this war. The dreams of proudly marching into Germany before Christmas and returning home as heroes are now completely destroyed. All I hope now is to survive the war and return home in one piece.
There is not much left to say now. Pray that this war will be ended soon, and reach a peaceful resolution. I will be writing to you again as soon as possible. See you until then.
Best of Luck, Bill Bai