The American Cousin
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The American Cousin
Canada develops a closer relationship with its southern neighbour as war rages overseas

"The American authorities often tend to consider us not a foreign nation at all but one of them. Because they take us for granted they are perplexed when we show an impatience at being ignored and an irritation at being treated as something less than an independent state." - Lester B. Pearson, Canadian diplomat in Washington, 1942

Read these indepth articles about
The American Cousin


U.S. Courts its Neighbour
Canada develops a closer relationship with the United States as the Second World War rages overseas
The Alaska Highway
Americans build a road through the Canadian wilderness and tighten their grip on the continent
Mining for a Bomb
Canada supplies uranium for the development of the U.S. atomic bomb, while native-Canadian miners work in clouds of radioactive dusk
During the Second World War, Canada underwent a dramatic shift as it moved away from a political alignment with Britain and towards a closer relationship with the United States.

Relationship shift
Unlike the First World War, Canada had entered the war in 1939 as an independent nation not as a member of the British Empire. But in the early years of the Second World War, Canada found itself developing a new co-dependent relationship and once again sacrificing some political autonomy.

American President Franklin Roosevelt initiated the closer ties with Canada. In 1940, the United States remained neutral but Roosevelt feared a British defeat.

Securing the continent
The President wanted to secure his northern flank and aid the Allies (countries fighting Germany) while keeping the illusion of neutrality. He realized Canada could act as a perfect conduit between the United States and the rest of the world.

On August 17, 1940, Roosevelt met with Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King on a private railway car near Ogdensburg, New York. Roosevelt drafted an agreement for King to sign, establishing a permanent board responsible for the joint defence of the two countries. It became known as the Ogdensburg Agreement.

A year later, the two countries signed the Hyde Park Declaration, a financial arrangement with the United States that helped Canada provide war materials to Britain.

U.S. road through Canada
In December 1941, United States entered the war after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Soon after, the United States asked Canada's permission to build a military road, later named the Alaska Highway, through Canadian territory from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Fairbanks, Alaska. The road would facilitate the movement of American military forces and materiel to its northern territory.

Like other continental initiatives by the United States during Second World War, Canada found itself bowing to American pressure. Prime Minister Mackenzie King agreed to the highway, but he and other members of the Canada political elite were beginning to feel the loss of Canadian autonomy in the face of its powerful neighbour.


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