Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization

Canadian History


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Kevin Spooner

Advisor Role

Associate Professor


This dissertation argues that the history of anti-communism in English Canada between 1945 and 1967 is more diverse and complicated than traditionally acknowledged. Often dispersed throughout the scholarship as elements of other Cold War topics, including espionage, state surveillance, and policing, anti-communism is the central subject of this investigation. A series of case studies are used to analyze individual encounters with the state and civic engagement with the domestic threat of communism. The unique politico-cultural approach of this dissertation will bolster Canada’s Cold War historiography by investigating both public and private manifestations of anti-communism.

The intersections of public safety, the arts, and national identity all contribute to the multifaceted and complex nature of anti-communism in English Canada. Communism was consistently viewed as a public safety concern that produced a governmental response with contrasting political and policing priorities. Additionally, educational campaigns were initiated by business associations such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and stark public safety warnings were issued by activists Marjorie Lamb, Ron Gostick, and Patrick Walsh. This study stresses the importance of the arts for interpreting and engaging with the perceived domestic threat of communism. Whether through the politics of a Paul Robeson musical performance, the writing of Ted Allan, a radio drama penned by Reuben Ship, or the nationalist emphasis of the National Film Board or Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, communities of cultural influence explored the boundaries of ideological exploration and depicted the consequences of suspected subversion.

Notably, this research also reveals a nuanced expression of Canadian national identity influenced by perceptions of anti-communism. Subtle Canadian anti-communism was overshadowed by the conspicuous imagery of aggressive American communist witch-hunts, reckless accusations, and a pervasive security apparatus. The absence of a visible Canadian version of “McCarthyism” enabled the development of a narrative that Canadian anti-communism was less punitive than in the United States. The validity of this idea, with respect to actual American policies, is not debated here. Rather, it is the existence of this perception, observable through different interactions with American anti-communism, that has significant influence on the constructed notion of a unique Canadian national identity. Recognizing and examining these particular intersecting patterns contributes a unique politico-cultural analysis of anti-communism in Canada that further advances existing historiography.

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