American Policy Changes to Canada From the 1st World War to 1950s


The period of World War I brought considerable changes to political cooperation of America and Canada. The negative side of Canadian-American relations was especially stressed by many politicians. The dramatic effects of war stimulated the peak in the development of Canadian nationalism. Canada was pleased by its position during the war II and in post-war period. This time was considered for Canada the epoch of self-realization. Canada was provided a special place under the pressure of war with American policy concerned. The influence of American policy on Canada beginning with the World War I was the main factor in the political situation change.

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Canada was considered to be a colony for a long time. This essay argues with the political position of Canada as to all other states. Even at the meeting of Paris Peace Conference Canada was introduced as a colony. The question was whether Canadian-American relations would be enhanced as the US was not considered to be a member of the League of Nations. Canada suffered a great influence on the part of the USA and in 1920s the control over Canadian activities by America was increased deeply. One of the most prominent decisions of American government was to make Canada use only its resources; as a result a special arrangement was worked out with the administration of Wilson and both sides were completely satisfied. (Bothwell & Kirton, 1989)

In 1921 Canada faced the period of crisis. It was closely connected with the renewal of alliance between Britain and Japan. It could lead to disastrous impact on American opinion, but all Canadian objections as to this decision were ignored. A great change one can notice in the development of economy and culture of that time. For example, it was difficult for Canadians to get a legal drink while the United States had an opportunity to produce liquor legally for export thus developing its industry greatly. American unions greatly dominated the Labor scene of Canada. As a result, a Canadian-dominated Union was created in Canada.

Automobile industry suffered influence on the part of the US as well. Canada had no mass production of automobiles in comparison with the US where the production of autos was widely spread and mostly aimed at export. The essay highlights that even in the development of culture the US was ahead of Canada; the Canadians had to listen to American radio stations because of the lack of their own. In the sphere of baseball Canadian fans were predominantly concerned for the Americans; and even though such sport as hockey was recognized as Canadian one, it was difficult to compare it with the high level of American one. (Thompson, John)

Canadians were almost in despair and could do nothing to change the situation they faced at the period between 1920 and 1927. Most of them even migrated from the state as they considered it to be hopeless and saw no development in its culture and economics. British politics dominated over the Canadian one. The analysis of historical facts shows that American policy made Canadian culture be dependent and mixed with foreign one.

Despite some negative factors there was a positive moment in American-Canadian relations. According to Free Trade Agreement they signed, the population saw the reduction in tariffs and this political and economical improvements in the general situation of the state caused a number of bilateral negotiations which helped to solve a number of important problems. (Bothwell, Robert, 1992)

Relations with the whole Europe were as well very important as those with America. Foreign policy played a significant role in the elections of Canada. In 1930s the League members visited Canada on political questions. At the time of war under the threat of Hitler the opinions inside the state were divided. Some of Canadians were eager to support Britain and others wanted to be on the side of French. Only minority of the population remained ignorant to the events and expressed neutral opinions.

The period of World War II was perceived by Canada as a kind of act of faith. Shaky finance situations and insufficient foreign exchange reserves brought some hesitations as to the entrance of Canada to war. The situation changed completely. The responsibilities in war for power and strategy were put on Canadian’s capacity. The defense from Germany was only one of the important problems faced at the period of World War II.

It was vitally to clear up a number of political and economical obstacles. The decision of Canadians lied in the contribution to war supply. But this led to complete crisis as the production of war materials could not satisfy Canadian demand. It was closely connected with the lack of raw materials and foreign reserves on the territory of Canada. And only in 1941 small changes for the better could be observed. Mobilization of foreign resources in Canada allowed renewing and enlarging contribution to war supply. Canada in its turn had an opportunity to buy war supply from the USA. It was evidence that the USA would have been the client of Canada.

Though the economical position and contribution were too much smaller than that of Americans, it was very important for the development of Canadian economy to have USA as a client. Up to 1945 the investments of the USA increased a lot a made about 400 million dollars. At this very period Canada became a kind of a partner for the USA than as a small client. Considering this example and following the whole analysis one can see how American policy changed the situation in Canada, how its position among all other states was changed for the better. (Steward, Gordon, 1982)

At the period of 1940s the USA felt some need in Canadian support. At this very time the territory of Canada became more independent and could express its self realization. But it is impossible to say that these relations between two states were really friendly. This atmosphere of Canadian growth could not bring satisfaction to American authorities. Self-realization and improvement of political situation in Canada resulted in reduction of the interference of the USA with Canada. (Bothwell, Robert, 1992)

To sum everything up it is important to stress that American policy completely influenced the Canadian position during the World War I and II. Gradual changes inside the state can be seen from the analysis. Canada passed a lot of important stages in its development with American policy concerned. American policy brought rapid changes to the development not only of politics but of economy, culture, education, sport and even sphere of entertainment.

Canada suffered rapid changes in the development of social sphere of life and had to overcome losses in the sphere of industry. The essay demonstrates the facts of how the situation of Canada changed after World War II. One can observe complete reorganization of the state by 1950 and rapid development of the international trade. Cooperation of Canada with the countries of the National League as well as the United States made it be more self-dependent and powerful.


Bothwell, Robert, & John Kirton. “A sweet little country”: Canadian-American relations in the twentieth century. Edited by N. Hilmer. Toronto: Clark pitman, 1989.

Stewart, Gordon T. “America’s Canadian policy” 11-31, Reprinted from Diplomatic history, no.4, 1982.

Bothwell, Robert. Canada & the United States: The politics of partnership. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1992.

Thompson, John Herd. Canada’s Quest for Cultural Sovereignty: Protection, Promotion, and Popular Culture.

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