Canadians were targets at start of chemical warfare a century ago

Global News

OTTAWA – Gas warfare, which recently killed hundreds of people in Syria, actually began on a sunny morning almost a century ago, and among its first victims were hundreds of Canadians.

Read more on the crisis in Syria here

That grim event opened decades of Canadian involvement in chemical war.

The Canadian army used gas hundreds of times in the First World War and Canadian scientists experimented with and created tonnes of gas weapons and even germ weapons during the Second World War.

Those scientists, based at Suffield, Alta., and in Ottawa, even used thousands of Canadian soldiers as guinea pigs for their poison-gas tests, something an indignant report 60 years later would describe as “unfathomable.”

Poison-gas warfare is nothing new, although the modern chemicals of choice, such as sarin, are far deadlier than their predecessors.

In April 1915, the 1st Canadian division was stationed in trench lines near…

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