Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Wardhaugh, Robert


This dissertation examines how Canadians defined and conceptualized peace from 1945 to 1963. Historically, Canadians have traditionally defined peace within the country’s dominant political ideology, liberalism. Consequently, “liberal internationalism,” characterized by its support for multilateralism and collective security, became Canada’s most widely accepted form of peace activism during the postwar and Cold War period. The Canadian liberal internationalist conception of peace was highly militaristic and was epitomized by the country’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): a Western, regional military alliance committed to preserving peace by force. There were, however, a small number of Canadians who found the government’s definition of peace unsatisfactory and rejected the idea that military power was necessary to attain or maintain peace. Yet, any Canadian who questioned Canada’s militarized conception of peace, or espoused an opposing vision were labelled subversive, a traitor, and most damning, communist. This dissertation offers a new vantage point on the history of peace in Canada. Rather than exploring peace through liberal internationalism, the study examines positive conceptions of peace in Cold War Canada through the lens of collective biography. The study focuses on six individuals: Abraham Feinberg, Brock Chisholm, John Humphrey, James Endicott, Ursula Franklin, and Norman Alcock. Each individual envisioned a peaceful world that differed from the dominant historical narrative in postwar Canada. In turn, the chapters highlight how Canadian peace activists contested and questioned Canada’s dominant, militarized, liberal internationalist Cold War conception of peace, and strove to remove the root causes of war and create a new social order. In opposing the hegemonic definition of peace, activists and their methods to achieve an alternative positive peace were deemed communist dupes by the government, media, and most Canadians. Ultimately, the chapters reveal that peace activists failed to realize their unorthodox visions of peace. Nevertheless, this dissertation will highlight the previously denied and excluded experiences of Canadian men and women who contributed to building a broad culture of peace in the postwar and early Cold War period; and in doing so, puncture the persistent and dominant myth of Canada as a “peaceable kingdom.”