It's been 100 years since Europe's major powers, and their colonies and dominions, went to war.

Canada went to war a century ago when Britain declared war against Germany.

And today at 11 a.m., a special commemoration took place at the Huntsville Legion to mark that moment. The commemoration also marked the opening of a new museum exhibit showcasing local First World War artifacts, particularly those related to the 122nd Battalion, at the Muskoka Heritage Place Museum.

The declaration of war in 1914 came in a telegram from the British government to the governor general.

Much different from today when most countries try to avoid war, Western University history professor Jonathan Vance says Canadians had an expectation in 1914 that they'd be joining the battles.

Many, he says, even celebrated the fact, largely because they believed the war would be short-lived.

But the First World War was one of the most traumatic events in Canada's history.

In all, about 620,000 Canadians enlisted during the war and about 419,000 went overseas. About 60,000 didn’t come home. Of those who did, many thousands returned home broken.

The war was considered a turning point in Canadian history, when the country shed its colonial mindset to become a nation in its own right.

The successes of Canadian soldiers on battlefields that included Ypres, Vimy and Passchendaele spurred a deep sense of national pride and a belief that Canada could stand on its own, separate from Britain, on the international stage.

It altered the country's political future – creating a new relationship with the British empire and dividing French and English communities over issues such as conscription.

But it also brought votes for women, daylight savings time and income tax, which was created as a "temporary measure."

- With files from The Canadian Press