Studies of the cold war are numerous and expansive. The story of the war is much more than a story about the Soviet Union and the United States. There is a gap in the scholarship, namely Canada’s role in that war. Scholars like Denis Smith, Robert Teigrob, Franca Iacovetta, Reg Whitaker, and Steve Hewitt among others are filling that gap. In the relatively recent scholarship on Canada’s role in the war, there are a wide variety of opinions that have come forth. Questions addressed in the studies include, when did the Cold War begin in Canada? What was Canada’s role? Did anything change in Canada with the emergence of the war? Was McCarthyism worse than the methoda employed in Canada?.
To begin it is necessary to talk about the varying opinions as to when the Cold War started for Canada. In their book Canada and the Cold War, Reg Whitaker and Steve Hewitt put the beginning of the Cold War, characterized by increased vigilance to root out communist activity at the disclosure of the Gouzenko affair. This sentiment is repeated in several other books. Igor Gouzenko worked as a clerk in the Soviety Embassy in Ottawa. For weeks he had been collecting internal documents that clearly indicated the existence of an elaborate spy ring in Canada’s capital city. Part of his job duites were to encode intelligence reports from Soviet spies that were working in Canada. Late on the evening of Septemeber 5, 1945 he put hundreds of documents into his shirt and walked out of the embassy with the intention of defecting to Canada. His attempted to turn his documents over to the Minister of Justice and was turned away, he was also turned away from the police station and a local newspaper office. Prime Minister W.L.M. King was informed and his first reaction was to leave it alone. He is quoted as saying;
Many Upper Canadian settlers were neutral at the beginning of the war, but as increasing numbers of their compatriots were killed in battle, forced from their homes, or had farms pillaged by American forces, local support for the British defenders increased. Considering the foreign origins of most Upper Canadians in 1812, it is not surprising that there were some traitors in the crowd. For ...
“I said…that I thought we should be extemely careful in becoming party to a course of action which would link the government of Canada up with this matter in a manner which might cause Russia to feel that we had performed an unfriendly act. That to seek to gather information in any underhand way would make clear that we did not trust the Embassy…Robertson seemed to feel that the unformation might be so important both to the states and to ourselves and to Britain that it would be in their best interests for us to seize it no matter how it was obtained. He did not say this but asked my opinion. I was strongly against any step of the kind as certain to create an issue between Russia and Canada, this leading to severance of diplomatic relations and as Robertson pointed out, might have consequences on the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers which might lead even to the breaking up of that organization.”
King was so scared of Canada being thrust into an international scandal that he is even reported to have wished that Gouzenko would follow through on his threat to committ suicide so that the documents could be seized from his apartment and the government could plead ignorance.
Bothwell, disagrees with scholars like Whitaker, Hewitt and Teigrob in the emphasis that is placed on the Gouzenko incident. Bothwell says that traditional descriptions of the event have been misleading. He contends that the affair has even shed a false light on the early development of cold war policy in Canada because the wrong issues have been concentrated on and some digressive conclusions have been reached. He says that the significance of the Gouzenko case was not the espionage, but King’s reaction to it. He says that there is no evidence that the incident was a turning point or variation on Canadian policy. He says that this is because historians tend to look at issues in a tightly enclosed area. For example, economic historians look at economic policy, and social policy historians look at the emergence of the welfare state. Bothwell goes on to say that King’s consultations with the American and British leaders were not because King wanted to lead the charge on the investigation into widespread espionage, but because he wanted to be given some advice, some direction. Bothwell says that King did not want to believe that the world was headed into an esast versus the west war so soon after one had just ended. The reasons for this were many, including Canada’s domestic economic issues, and the sheer distance (geographically and psychologically) of the Soviet Union. He says that the Gouzenko case had virtually no significant effect. While Bothwell’s account of the Gouzenko case was interesting and different, there is a sheer lack of evidence to back up his claims. There are very few footnotes or citations in the article, perhaps this is because most of his claims are opinions and not conclusions reached based on reasearch. Perhaps this article is better suited as an op-ed piece in a newspaper than in an academic journal.
The invention of the atomic bomb certainly brought extreme fear into Canadians’ lives after revealing its astonishing power through the massive destructions done at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although most people did not speak of this fear but it can be clearly seen throughout the cold war when the arms race between the two super powers at the time, the United States and the Soviet Union, split ...
A point that Bothwell touches on that is mentioned by several authors is that the anti-Communism that was rampant in the Canadian government and other institutions like the Churches and law enforcement after the Gouzenko incident was not a departure, because Canadian society had been decidedly anti-Communist for years. It is curious that Whitaker does not mention the climateof the interwar and early war period in his book co-authored with Steve Hewitt, but he does mention it with great emphasis in his article written for the Labour journal several years prior. In his article entitled Official Repression of Communism During World War II he details the Canadian government’s attitude towards groups they deemed a threat to national security by cicumventing and denying these groups their civil rights. Some of the incidents that he outlines that occurred prior to the Second War are; the violent end to the Winnipeg general Strike (1919), the ‘special attention’ paid to communists in the 1920’s and 1930’s by local police in cities across the country, Prime Minister R.B. Benett’s mass deportation policy in the Depression years, the enactment of ‘Defence of Canada Regulations’ and the Quebec Padlock Law. He contends that the climate in Canada throughout WWII was like a preview of the environment of discontent against the left that would characterize the Cold War.
World War I was one of the worst battles in the world’s history. It was fought from 1914 to 1918 which involved several allied forces trying to stop Germany and its allies from trying to dominate all of Europe. On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany and its allies because of the infringement they made on The Treaty of London of 1839. Legally being a member of the British Empire, ...
If we take a definition of the Cold War as being increased anti-Communist activities on a state and individual level then Whitaker’s assessment of the pre Cold war inhospitable climate in Canada towards the left is astute and accurate. Much of the literature does not define exactly what is meant by the Cold War, except to say that it was for the most part not a militarized war, with a pro-capitalist West versus a pro-Communist East, with the Western governments aim of containment of communism abroad and to contain and remove any perceived threat at home. Given Whitaker’s intelligent linkage of the interwar and early war anti-Communist climate in Canada to the atmosphere throughout the Cold War, it is curious as to why he fails to mention it in the book he co-authored Canada and The Cold War. In that Whitaker and Hewitt say that that later part of the 1940’s were crucial for establishing the mood of the Cold War. They say that
“[i]n government, in political parties, in the press, in business, in trade unions, in churches and other associations across the land, and in the minds of ordinary Canadians, it was decided that Canada had come out of one war only to enter a seven stranger peacetime conflict. This conflict could not be allowed to become another shooting war, for the consequences in the atomic age were too dire to contemplate. Yet the war would be waged on all other forms.
As part of this new ‘cold’ war, Canadians learned to become suspicious of one another, to look for Stalin’s Fifth Columnists operating undercover. In the late 1940’s, “Communism” became a heresy and “Communists,” heretics. Democracy was redefined as a privilege for those who qualified. In some ways, then and later, Canadians were unaware of this process for they were mesmerized by the sensational spectacle of the witch hunting and McCarthyism to the south in the United States. Surely Canadians were more liberal, tolerant, and level-headed than their excitable, evangelistic neighbours. They may have been, but Canadians nonetheless went down the same path during this period.”
WAR FROM THE COLD WAR TO PRESENT The end of World War II was the spawn of a new war that would continue for over fifty years: The Cold War. Technically this war was not a fifty-year physical confrontation between two countries but more of a political confrontation between the world's two remaining super-powers. The dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the beginning of ...
The discrepancy between emphasis or lack thereof of the pre Cold War anti-Communism activities in Canada is understandble between various authors, but it is curious as to why Whitaker and Hewitt did not put any emphasis on the pre-Cold War climate given the fact that Whitaker had several years earlier made the connection. Whitaker and Hewitt have organized their book by decade and start their analysis with the 1940’s, however that does not explain why they appear to have thrown out Whitaker’s previous statements.
In agreement with Whitaker’s article on the significance of the pre Cold War anti- Communism rampant in Canada is Paul Axelrod’s article entitled Spying on the Young in Depression and War: Students, Youth Groups and the RCMP, 1935-1942. He says that from the end of World War I to the end of World War II, the Canadian government afforded itself with and used tyrannical-like tacticts against citizens that saw as thretening the Canadian way of life. An RCMP bulletin from 1940 indicated the feeling towards containing Communists, “The Virus of Communism, long-coursing, almost unopposed, in our social blood-stream has now reached the heart of our educational system as represented by undergraduates and even college professors in our leading universities.” Not to say that the statement was accurate but the attitude does help explain why the Canadian government in the wake of the Depression and with a worldwide war looming that they sought to squash any anti-Canadian sentiments. With the Defense of Canada Regulations the government was able to censor the press as they saw fit, could detain anyone that they deemed a threat to the ‘safety of the state’ and could also shut down any organization that they saw as revolutionary. Even though the hot war was against the fascist Nazis, treason and suberversion was equated with the communist left.
If there was a legitimate threat to Canada and everything it stood for, what did it mean to be Canadian? Authors Franca Iacovetta, and Robert Teigrob address this idea of Canadianization. Iacovetta does not address the issue in a direct or overt way, however the topic of Canadianization is usually mentioned in sentences or paragraphs that include democracy. This seems to be one of the main tenents of the Cold War scholarship, this idea of preserving democracy against this enemy in the east. Mary Lowery Ross, a Saturday Night columnist in 1948 was confused by the words ‘un-Canadian’ being applied to her in response to comments she had made in her column. In response to those comments, Ross wondered what exactly was meant by un-Canadian in a country that did not even have a national flag or a national anthem. She said in response to the espionage tacticts;
Why was the Cold War named the cold war? It was named the Cold War because it possessed the longest length of time of any war, in modern history, in which two nations were at odds without engaging in direct battle. The Term Cold War was used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist syndicate from the end of World War II until 1989. After ...
“Un-Canadianism is still an unrecognized phenomenon in our country. When it was felt necessary to investigate Communist tactics in the United States, no one had any difficulty about labelling Communist activities. They were un-American. But it didn’t occur to anyone to describe as un-Canadian the activities of our espionage participants. Nor did anyone describe as un-Canadian the activities of our espionage participants. Nor did anyone condemn as un-Canadian the procedure of rounding up a group of espionage suspects and holding them without trial. We said it was un-British.”
Ross goes on to articulate the confusing nature of Canadianism in that it was considered un-Canadian to identify as British and others who think it is only possible to be Canadian by identifying as British. Tiegrob identifies this confusion as Canadians having a better idea what it means to not be Canadian than it does to be Canadian. In other words, Canadians can identify supposed enemies, the other, better than they can themselves.
One wide-held perception of Canada is one of a peacekeeping nation. I always thought that this was more due to our undersized army and defense budget than an ideological stance. Sean Maloney and Eric Wagner have written extensively on this subject, with the goal of painting a more accurate picture of Canada’s military role in past events like the Cold War as well as in current battles like the war in Afghanistan. Wagner says that the post-war myth of Canada as a peacekeeping nation has clouded the degree Canada’s military involvement in the Cold War as well as in many battles and situations since then. One example is the battle in the Suez Canal in the late 1950’s. The popular consensus that the government created was that Canada’s troops were there as a peacekeeping force and for humanitarian concerns. However, the truth was that the government was really only concerned about maintaining the relatively new multi-lateral North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This assertion is backed up with some primary evidence, like government telegrams. Wagner and Maloney emphasize actual use of military resources in battle, whereas authors like Reg Whitaker and Denis Smith emphasize Canada’s status as peacekeeper in terms of government diplomacy. To say that Canada is a peacekeeping nation is not on its face a neglect of the instances where we have been active on the battle field, but it is an interesting paradigm.
This article examines major network news coverage of Cuba in Canada (CBC and CTV) and in the United States (ABC, CBS, and NBC) from 1988 through 1992. Given the different histories of Canadian-Cuban and U. S. -Cuban relations since the revolution, the extent of similar negative coverage of the island in both countries' reporting is somewhat surprising. Also, it is apparent that the end of the Cold ...
How Canada handled the ‘hot’ wars that popped up during the Cold War era will help to deliniate whether or not this role of peacekeeper during the polarizing war holds true. David Churchill writes a very interesting article on how Canada handled the Vitenam war. The American government was selling this war to the public as protecting citizens against Communism. The American policy was based on its intervention strategy and willingness to engage in armed conflict in order to thrwart the perceived threat that was the spreading of Communism. From a public policy and legal perspective, Churchill looks to sociologist John Hagan who contends that Canada was publicly saying that draft resisters were welcome all the while trying to keep them out. The border officials had a lot of leeway, and were operating on a sort of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy. However, the RCMP was said to have been cooperating with the FBI and passing on any information on draft resisters and deserters. Churchill likens this to a close link with U.S. Policy. Interestingly, Whitaker and Hewitt point out that Canadian military involvement in Vietnam actually began long before the Americans went in.
The sent weapons in the early 1950’s and led one of three peace commissions that were set up in the region to monitor ceasefire. So, when the Americans became increasingly interested in intervening in the area, Canada was already there. When the public became vocal in their call for the war to end, Lester Pearson spoke out and asked for a cease fire in the American bombing even though, privately he had given President Johnson his approval for a bombing campaign with his only reservation being the use of nuclear weapons. While Whitaker and Hewitt, nor Churchill make any strong conclusions as to why there was this seemingly contradictory approach to the Vietnam War, it is still very helpful to have the contradictions pointed out because they run contrary to popular belief that we took the high road when it comes to the Vietnam war and that it was the Americans alone that were the ‘bad guys’.
This notion of Americans persecuting citizens they deemed Communist has come to be known as McCarthyism. However, there is no such phrase that is applied to the measures adopted by the Canadian government and institutions. Iacovetta, Marcuse, and Whitaker address this issue. Chapter 7 in Whitaker and Marcuse’s book outlines the kind of screening of public employees that occurred in Ottawa during the Cold War. The say that Canada tried to find a middle ground between open witch-hunting and lax security measures, thus we are said to have practiced a restrained version of McCarthyism. While McCarthyism was conducted in public, the kind of discrimination in Canada was mostly behind closed doors. Iacovetta says that Americans “did not have a monopoly on the hypocrisy and corrupted democracy on this era.” It seems like Whitaker and Marcuse are giving far too much credit to the Canadian government for their apparent restrained brand of McCarthyism. The fact that it was conducted for the most part behind closed doors and not in public does not make it any less an affront on people’s civil liberties. In Whitaker and Hewitt’s book they say that “Canadians smugly believed themselves to be free of such excesses.” In 1946 there were a series of public trials in which the accused were denied their civil liberties as part of the secret Orders in Council, were publicly branded as traitors, and sent to trial.
In this case Whitaker and Hewitt conclude that Canada “outdid the Americans in placing national security above individual rights.” Yet in his book with Marcuse, they remark that “their management of Cold War Canada was liberal in comparison to the McCarthy-era America.” This curious discrepancy between emphasis once again creeps into the writings of Whitaker. He at times points out the apparent duality and contradictory way the Canadian government acted throughout the Cold War, yet he fails to see the contradictory conclusions he makes. Perhaps this is due to the fact that he sometimes writes alone, sometimes with a co-author. However, since he puts his name on each piece of work, he ought to pay heed to concluding statements he has made in his previous writings.
From a diplomatic perspective, Smith contends that the Canadian government did not simply walk blindly along behind the American government, but participated in the gathering of intelligence with their own sources and at times had a different strategy than their American counterpart. He admittedly neglects the press as a source and focuses solely on the government, however, in order to assess whether or not the diplomatic strategies were well received or not, or to assess differences between American and Canadian approaches to the Cold War, the press is a valuable source to gauge what the public’s feelings are. This is not to say that government records are not a valuable source of information, rather that conclusions he drew on differences in policy and approaches to the war could have been supplemented and strengthened if those conclusions were reflected in the press.
Iacovetta and Teirgrob do a much better job at teasing out the various issues and use a variety of sources upon which they base their conclusions. The effectiveness of Teigrob’s approach is especially evident in his analysis on how the atom bomb was received in Canada. Where Smith relies solely on diplomatic sources, Teigrob uses many primary sources as well as secondary scholarly works to draw in his conclusions. He says that the contradictory feeling to the Cold War in general was also true in the perception of the bomb. On the one hand, horror was expressed at the loss of life, and on the other joy and pride that Canadian scientists had played a part in the bomb’s creation. Many of the people who hearlded the usage of the bomb in its immediate aftermath used hierarchical, racialized language to describe the victims of the bomb’s application. This kind of language and treatment of people who are different has a long history in both countries and ought not to be overlooked as the people making policies often gauge the prevailing public opinion when making decisions. Iacovetta also pays close attention to the nuances of society and governments treatment of the other in the era of the Cold War. He teases out racial, ethnic, and gendered tensions and views and how they affected the actions top-down from the government to those that implemented or carried out government policies.
From the the Guzenoko affair, to the anti-communism that existed before that, to the dropping of the Atomic bomb, and to the measures taken to weed out those deemed a threat authors have attempted to tease out the nuances of the cold-war in Canada. Iacovetta’s work as well as Tiegrob’s new 2009 book have attempted to get at the issues by not just focusing on the government’s perspective. Works by Smith and Whitaker would have benefitted from a more nuanced approach to the Cold War era. I think that had they done so, then glaring gaps and in Whitaker’s case, contradictions could have been avoided. One common theme that emerged in the historiography was the various government organizations that formed throughout the cold war and the effect that it had on economics. These areas were touched on and dealt with by all the works covered, but the material is so extensive and ultimately deserves examination in space that this paper does not provide. An area that was touched on very briefly by some of the authors but was not examined in depth was the pre-Cold War anti-Communism that existed in Canada and what effect if any, the Cold War had on those notions. I believe that the notions were more than a precursor. I think that the Cold War is just a label to describe a global feeling that had been rampant in Canada for years. The Cold War is often equated with anti-Communism and it is wrongly stated that the Cold War is what started the Red Scare in Canada. Unfortunately, we have a long history of fearing the other.
Axelrod, Paul. “Spying on the Young in Depression and War: Students, Youth Groups and the
RCMP, 1935-1942,” Labour 35 (Spring 1995): 43-63.
Bothwell, Robert. “The Cold War and the Curate’s Egg: When Did Canada’s Cold War Really
Begin? Later than You Might Think,” International Journal 53, no. 3 (Summer, 1998): 407-418.
Cavell, Richard. “Introduction: The Cultural Production of Canada’s Cold War,” in Love, Hate
and Fear in Canada’s Cold War. ed. Richard Cavell. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.
Churchill, David S.“An Ambiguous Welcome: Vietnam Draft Resistance, the Canadian State,
and Cold War Containment”, Social History 37, no. 73 (2004): 1-26.
Iacovetta, Franca. Gatekeepers. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2006.
Maloney, Sean M.“Why Keep the Myth Alive.” Canadian Military Journal 8, no.1 (Spring
Marutto, Paula. “Private Policing and Surveillance of Catholics: Anti-Communism in the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto 1920-1960,” Labour 40 (Fall, 1997): 113-136.
Smith, Denis. Diplomacy of Fear. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.
Tiegrob, Robert. Warming up to the Cold War. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.
Wagner, Eric. “The Peaceable Kingdom? The National Myth of Canadian Peacekeeping and the
Cold War,” Canadian Military Journal 7 no. 4 (Winter 2006-2007), 45-54.
Whitaker, Reg and Hewitt, Steve. Canada and the Cold War. Toronto: James Lorimer &
Company Ltd., 2003.
Whitaker, Reg, and Marcuse, Gary. Cold War Canada: The Making of a National Insecurity
State, 1945-1957. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.
Whitaker, Reg. “We Know They’re There: Canada and Its Others,” in Love, Hate and Fear in
Canada’s Cold War. ed. Richard Cavell . Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.
 Reg Whitaker and Steve Hewitt, Canada and the Cold War (Toronto: James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 2003), 14.
 See also Franca Iacovetta, Gatekeepers (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2006), 16-17.; Richard Cavell, “Introduction: The Cultural Production of Canada’s Cold War,” in Love, Hate and Fear in Canada’s Cold War. ed. Richard Cavell (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 8.; and Reg Whitaker and Gary Marcuse, Cold War Canada: The Making of a National Insecurity State, 1945-1957 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), 10.
 Whitaker and Hewitt, 14.
 Robert Bothwell, “The Cold War and the Curate’s Egg: When Did Canada’s Cold War Really Begin? Later than You Might Think,” International Journal 53, no. 3 (Summer, 1998): 407.
 Bothwell, “The Cold War and the Curate’s Egg…,”408; see also Denis Smith, Diplomacy of Fear (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988), 94-95.
 WLM King in the Mackenzie King Record as quoted in Smith, Diplomacy of Fear, 94.
 Bothwell, 408.
 Bothwell, 409-410.
 For example See Whitaker and Marcuse Cold War Canada; and Iacovetta Gatekeepers.
 For a detailed description of the Catholic Church’s attitudes towards communism both before and during the Cold War see; Paula Marutto, “Private Policing and Surveillance of Catholics: Anti-Communism in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto 1920-1960,” Labour 40 (Fall, 1997): 113-136.
 Iacovetta, 14-15.
 Whitaker and Hewitt, 9-10.
 Paul Axelrod, “Spying on the Young in Depression and War: Students, Youth Groups and the RCMP, 1935-1942,” Labour 35 (Spring 1995): 43.
 Ibid., 43-45.
 Iacovetta, 10-11.
 Robert Tiegrob, “Warming up to the Cold War,” (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 225.
 Ibid., 226.
 Sean M. Maloney, “Why Keep the Myth Alive,” Canadian Military Journal (Spring 2007), 100-102.; see also Eric Wagner “The Peaceable Kingdom? The National Myth of Canadian Peacekeeping and the Cold War,” Canadian Military Journal (Winter 2006-2007), 45-54.
 Wagner, 48-49.
 Reg Whitaker, “We Know They’re There: Canada and Its Others,” in Love, Hate and Fear in Canada’s Cold War. ed. Richard Cavell (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 40-41; see also Smith, Diplomacy of Fear, 204.
 David S. Churchill, “An Ambiguous Welcome: Vietnam Draft Resistance, the Canadian State, and Cold War Containment”, Social History 37, no. 73 (2004): 3.
 Ibid., 11.
 Whitaker and Hewitt, 171-174.
 Whitaker and Marcuse, 187.
 Iacovetta, 18.
 Whitaker and Hewitt, 18-19.
 Whitaker and Marcuse, 15.
 Smith, 8.
 Teigrob, 23.
 Ibid., 29-30.