CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: What Was the Avro Arrow?

History, Social Studies
1 lesson
To learn about the history of the Avro Arrow
Students explore the site to gather information about the Avro Arrow.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students if they have ever heard of a Canadian jet known as the Avro Arrow, and if so, what they know about it. Expand this discussion to one about their knowledge of the Canadian military today: the state of its equipment, and its level of technological advancement.

Tell students that in the 1950s, the Canadian military began developing a new jet aircraft, the Arrow, which many experts at the time believed to be a "state-of-the-art" plane. The decision to cancel the production of the Arrow was one of the most controversial steps any Canadian government has ever taken with regard to the country's defence policy.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students take as much time as they wish to browse the topic The Avro Arrow: Canada's Broken Dream on the CBC Digital Archives website, listening to the audio clips and viewing the visual clips dealing with the Avro Arrow. Provide them with the download sheet "What Was the Avro Arrow," and have them answer the questions to summarize what they learned about this aircraft and its place in Canadian history.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their responses as a class. Have students discuss the following, and support their answers with details they gathered from browsing the topic.


Was the decision of the Diefenbaker government to cancel the project the right one to make at the time, given the political, economic, and military factors involved?

If it had been continued, could the Avro Arrow have become a major part of Canada's air defence system?

Why do so many Canadians still care about the Arrow?

What are your feelings about the Arrow and its cancellation?



Students can investigate the Cold War further, determining what effect it had on the initiation and cancellation of the Arrow project and on Canada's relations with the United States in terms of defence and military planning. To what degree was Canada operating independently of the United States in its foreign and defence policy-making at this time?

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