In 1944, Canada was dealing with the Conscription Crisis, a military and political crisis following the forced military service for men in Canada during WWII. The Prime Minister was William Lyon Mackenzie King and King George VI was on the English throne. Tommy Douglas, leader of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, was elected premier of Saskatchewan, the HMCS Clayoquot was sunk off the coast of Halifax by a German U-boat, and the Montreal Canadiens won their fifth Stanley Cup. Poet bpNichol and songwriter Anna McGarrigle were born, and biographer John Wesley Dafoe and writer Stephen Leacock died.
Also in 1944, Gwethalyn Graham published her controversial novel, Earth and High Heaven, the first Canadian book to reach number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
Born and raised in Toronto, she eloped with the son of her business partner and, two years later, divorced and moved to Montreal, where Earth and High Heaven is set.
The city is an appropriate setting, with even more class and social divisiveness than other prominent Canadian cities, because of the additional tensions existing between the Catholics and the Protestants, and the French and the English segments of the population.