The idea of moving to Canada figures prominently in the imagination of many disaffected Americans. Most recently, it was comedian Marc Maron who said he’s on his way to Vancouver, BC. Usually, they don’t come. However, between the mid-60s and early-70s they really did–and in the 10s of thousands. Yet, when these Americans made their way, they did not always find the Canada they expected.
First, many of them were unjustly turned away at the border. We tell the story of how student journalist Bob Waller helped to expose the policy with a dastardly sleuth and legendary piece of stunt journalism. Then, draft resister Joseph Jones tells us what it was like to assimilate into Canadian academia as the new kid in school. Jones was also cataloguer and reference librarian at the University of British Columbia from 1980-2003, and he still keeps a vast archive of materials about Vietnam War Resisters in Canada. Finally, how did the war resisters help shape radical culture and Canadian national identity? Historian Donald Maxwell surveys the flow of people and of ideas, revealing that the American radicals sparked a surge in nationalistic sentiment in some of Canada’s elite academic institutions. Maxwell is author of the forthcoming book from Rutgers University Press Unguarded Border: American Émigrés in Canada during the Vietnam War.
Darts and Letters producer Ren Bangert is guest host today. This is a production of Cited Media. This episode received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. It is part of a series of episodes on the relationship between activism and academia. Our scholarly advisors on this series are Professors Lesley Wood at York University, Sigrid Schmalzer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as Sharmeen Khan, Sami McBryer, and Susannah Mulvale. For a full list of credits, contact information, and more, visit our about page.