“You don’t go to war to earn a paycheque”. A profile of the late George Cartwright

Nick Fonda
Staff Writer

For most of his adult life, George Cartwright was reticent to talk about his World War II experiences, but this changed in 2011, when he was one of the subjects of a documentary film, Nous Serons Volontaires by Grégoire Bédard. Grégoire Bédard’s film was subtitled “un regard sur Drummondville au temps de la guerre 1939-45,” and it examined the context in which George Cartwright and a few other signed up to go to war. Canada’s involvement in World War Two, and in particular mandatory military service, or conscription, was not uniformly accepted across the country. Prime Minister MacKenzie-King, aware of how divisive the issue was, had promised in 1939 that there would be no conscription for overseas service. In 1942 he was forced to break his promise when a country-wide plebiscite determined that conscription was a necessary part of Canada’s war effort. While 64% of Canadians voted in favour of conscription, 75% of Quebecers voted against it. In Quebec, a young man who received his draft notice in the mail was as likely to take to the woods to hide out as he was to promptly report for service. The feeling in Drummondville was the same as in the rest of the province, but, quite exceptionally, Drummondville was the site of a minor riot when government agents locked a movie house in their zealous search for draft dodgers. The event landed four people in court and resulted in two of them paying a $25 fine. George Cartwright was not involved in the riot, and he was quite the opposite of a draft dodger. See full story in the Tuesday, April 17th edition of The Record.