British Journal of Canadian Studies

Golden Decade(s)? Reappraising Canada's International Relations in the 1940s and 1950s

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2010), 23, (2), 179–206.

Abstract

The notion of a bygone lustrous period in the history of Canada's international relations permeates memoirs and biographies of Canadian diplomats, scholarly literature, journalism and popular commentary. This image has become a central icon in a nationalist pantheon, a vital myth about Canada's exceptionalism, its purported international mission and its supposed primordial internationalism. Moreover, the greater past has become the standard by which the lesser present has been judged and found wanting. This paper raises doubts about the validity of this depiction of the past, particularly the characterisation of Canadian motives and achievements in world affairs during and after the Second World War, and poses questions about the purposes to which this misrepresentation of Canada's diplomatic history has been put in more recent times.

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Mackenzie, Hector