Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Canadian History


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Spooner

Advisor Role



This dissertation examines the development and implementation of federally funded scientific defence research in Canada during the earliest decades of the Cold War. With a particular focus on the creation and subsequent activities of the Defence Research Board (DRB), Canada’s first peacetime military science organization, the history covered here crosses political, social, and environmental themes pertinent to a detailed analysis of defence-related government activity in the Canadian North. Three contextual chapters on the history of federal defence research in Canada provide the foundation for a close study of defence research projects pursued and supported by the Canadian government. The dissertation focuses on northern Canada to explore and explain key developments in the history of tripartite defence relations between Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom while also providing new perspectives on the impact of the Cold War in Canada.

To meet the impending challenges of the early postwar period, senior officials in the Canadian defence establishment decided to create the Defence Research Board and involve select scientists in discussions about policy for science and defence in North. The decision to include scientists in the policymaking process was a deliberate and functional approach that helped the Canadian government secure and strengthen its security partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States during the early Cold War. When senior officials championed science as a means to bolster Canada’s commitment to Western security, the Defence Research Board became the primary vehicle to achieve this policy aim. Select scientists obtained the political power to design, implement, and administer policies for the distribution and use of federal funds made available for scientific defence research. This was a calculated move by senior Canadian officials who wanted to further bilateral defence relations with the United States while maintaining close ties to the United Kingdom. Including scientists in government allowed the Canadian defence establishment to focus its limited resources on specific fields of research in which Canada could leverage geography and “expertise” to fulfill its political agenda for postwar security and defence in the North.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season