CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Americans come north to avoid service in Vietnam

The Story

Draft dodgers, resisters, evaders, foot-voters, deserters -- Canada has become a haven for a conservative estimate of 30,000 to 40,000 Americans avoiding a war they do not support. The initial influx of draft dodgers was followed by a wave of deserters. In Toronto, a group of university professors has set up a halfway house for deserters. The CBC's Douglas Fetherling interviews a deserter who spent 312 days in Vietnam fighting with the elite Green Berets, and a 17-year-old criminal, both living in the house. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Supplement
Broadcast Date: March 16, 1969
Reporter: Douglas Fetherling
Duration: 5:13
Photo: Bruno Massenet, National Archives of Canada (PA 153762)

Did You know?

• A draft dodger, draft evader, foot-voter or draft resister is a person who avoids performing compulsory military service.

• A military deserter is a member of the armed forces who abandons his or her post without permission and has no intention of returning.

• Conscientious Objector status, which was difficult to obtain, allowed for people to forego military service based on a deep moral or religious belief in exchange for a fixed term of community service.

• Draft dodgers entered Canada as landed immigrants, and were not required to reveal whether they were evading the draft.

• According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the majority of draft dodgers tended to be urban, well-educated middle class men, while deserters were more often poorer, rural, less educated individuals who were not exposed to the antiwar movement until they were already in the forces.

• Canada has a history of harbouring Americans fleeing laws they don't agree with. Somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 fugitive slaves reached Canadian safe houses via the Underground Railroad in the mid 19th century. In the late 18th century thousands of United Empire Loyalists chose to settle in Canada rather than become American citizens.

• According to the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, the term "dove" came into common use during the Vietnam War to describe those opposed to U.S. military involvement.


Seeking Sanctuary: Draft Dodgers more