Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Canadian-American Relations Since the Second World War
Canada's relationship with the United States is the most
important connection we have with another country. This relationship has become
very close since the Second World War, when the United States replaced Great
Britain as Canada's main economic, military, and cultural influence. Beginning
with Franklin Roosevelt's visit to Ottawa in 1943, a number of American
presidents have met their Canadian counterparts at official meetings in the
nation's capital. The issues they have dealt with at these talks have been
varied, focusing on a wide range of bilateral and foreign policy matters. The
two countries and their respective leaders have often agreed on topics of
mutual concern and have formed strong military and trade alliances.
But on other occasions, Canada and the United States have adopted very different policies on crucial issues. To a great extent, the Canada-U.S. relationship since the Second World War has been shaped by the nature of the personal and political ties between the leaders of the two countries. These links have at times been strong and positive, while on other occasions there have been deep and serious rifts.
Students work in pairs or small groups and select one of the following topics on which to prepare a summary or overview about the state of Canadian-American relations:
Canada's military alliance with the U.S. during WWII;
Canada's support for the United States and the west during the outbreak of the Cold War (late 1940s, 1950s);
Canada's growing economic relationship with the United States (1950s and 1960s);
Canada's differences with the United States on foreign policy issues (1960s);
Strains in the Canada-U.S. relationship (1970s);
Closer relations between Canada and the U.S. (1980s);
Canadian-American relations in the post-Cold War era (1990s);
Differences between Canada and the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century
Students should focus on the main issues involved in the Canadian-American relationship during this time and the role that the prime ministers and presidents of the day played in influencing them. The following questions (also available on the download sheet Canadian-American Relations) will help to focus their inquiry:
What were the main issues involved in Canada's relationship with the United States during this period?
What differences were there between the Canadian and American governments' position on these issues?
What role did the prime minister and president of the day play in influencing the course of the relationship and the resolution of the main issues at play in it?
Why was this period important in the evolution of Canadian-American relations?
What parallels or similarities can be noted between this phase of Canada's relationship with the United States and the present-day situation?
Students should begin their research on the topic Mr. President Goes to Ottawa on the CBC Digital Archives website and then expand their research to include internet, print, and video resources that they find relevant (see the Resources for this topic). Students will write a report responding to the questions on the download sheet. They will also prepare a summary of the information they gathered, which they will present and distribute to the class. Students must cite all resources used in their work.
After students have presented and distributed their reports, discuss the evolution of Canada's relationship with the United States since the Second World War, evaluating the main issues at stake, the roles of various political leaders, and how the history of this relationship has influenced the present-day situation between the two countries.
Resources for this Topic
Adams, Michael. Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2003.
Clarkson, Stephen. Canada and the Reagan Challenge: Crisis and Adjustment, 1981- 1985. Toronto: J. Lorimer, 1985.
Granatstein, J.L. Canada's War: The Politics of the Mackenzie King Government, 1939-45. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.
Granatstein, J.L. Yankee Go Home? Canadians and Anti-Americanism. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1996.
Granatstein, J.L., and Norman Hillmer. For Better or for Worse: Canada and the United States to the 1990s. Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman, 1991.
Granatstein, J.L., and Robert Bothwell. Pirouette: Pierre Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Policy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990.
Hayden, Peter T. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis: Canadian Involvement Reconsidered. Toronto: Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, 1993.
Laxer, James. The Border: Canada, the US and Adventures from the 49th Parallel. Toronto: Doubleday, 2003.
Martin, Lawrence. Pledge of Allegiance: The Americanization of Canada in the Mulroney Years. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993.
McDonald, Marci. Yankee Doodle Dandy: Brian Mulroney and the American Agenda. Don Mills: Stoddart, 1995.
Nash, Knowlton. Kennedy and Diefenbaker: Fear and Loathing Across the Undefended Border. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1990.
Thompson, John Herd. Canada and the United States: Ambivalent Allies. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002.
Canada: A People's History. Episode 14: The Crucible 1940-1946. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 200: Susan Teskey, dir.)
Canada: A People's History. Episode 15: Comfort and Fear 1946-1964. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002: Susan Teskey and Marquise Lepage, dirs.)
Canada: A People's History. Episode 16: Years of Hope and Anger 1964-1976. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002: Marquise Lepage, dir.)
Canada: A People's History. Episode 17: In an Uncertain World 1976-1990. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002: Susan Dando, dir.)