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Middle Power

In international relations, the term middle power refers to a state that wields less influence on the world stage than a superpower. As the term suggests, middle powers fall in the middle of the scale measuring a country’s international influence. Where superpowers have great influence over other countries, middle powers have moderate influence over international events. Canada was considered to be a middle power during the postwar period — from 1945 until about 1960. Though Canada was not as powerful or prominent as the United Kingdom or the United States during this time, it was an international player that influenced events through moral leadership, peacekeeping and conflict mediation.

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U-boat Operations

U-boat Operations threatened Canada's sovereignty in 2 world wars. German submarines (Unterseeboote) first laid mines off Halifax and attacked shipping in Aug 1918, and virtually unopposed by the unprepared naval service they sank 11 schooners and a trawler for a total of 2002 gross tons.

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Jules Blais (Primary Source)

Jules Blais served on HMCS Sea Cliff to accompany merchant ships during the Second World War. He was present at the sinking of the U-877 in December 1944. Blais rescued survivors from the freezing waters before dressing them and stowing them away aboard the ship. Listen to Blais describe his naval service and his interactions with German POWs.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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Persian Gulf War, 1990-91

In 1991, Canada joined an international military coalition to confront Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait. Canada contributed warships and fighter aircraft to the successful campaign to liberate Kuwait. It was the first time Canada sent women to war in combat roles, and it was the first time in decades that Canadian air and naval forces supported each other in a war zone. More than 5,100 Canadian military personnel served in the war, with a peak of about 2,700 in the region at one time. No members of the Canadian armed forces died during the conflict.

Macleans

Rape in the Military

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on May 25, 1998. Partner content is not updated.

Dawn Thomson remembers peering up at the windows of Nelles Barracks when she arrived for her first posting at CFB Esquimalt in Victoria in January, 1992. She saw a wall of men's faces - then came the hollering and the catcalls, a cacophony of sexual innuendo and gutter talk.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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Battle of Sackets Harbor

During the WAR OF 1812, British troops led by Lieutenant General Sir George PREVOST conducted a raid on Sackets Harbor, NY, having learned that the American naval squadron was at the western end of Lake Ontario supporting an American army in the NIAGARA PENINSULA.

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Canada and the Battle of Hong Kong

Hong Kong was the first place Canadians fought a land battle in the Second World War. From 8 to 25 December 1941, almost 2,000 troops from Winnipeg and Quebec City — sent to Hong Kong expecting little more than guard duty — fought bravely against the overwhelming power of an invading Japanese force. When the British colony surrendered on Christmas Day, 290 Canadians had been killed in the fighting. Another 264 would die over the next four years, amid the inhumane conditions of Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.

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Battle of Lundy's Lane

The Battle of Lundy's Lane, during the War of 1812, was fought between American troops and British regulars assisted by Canadian fencibles and militia on the sultry evening of 25 July 1814, almost within sight of Niagara Falls.

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Privateering During the War of 1812

Privateering refers to government licensing of private vessels to wage war. In Canada, privateering dated back to Samuel Argall's attack in 1613 on PORT-ROYAL, Acadia. From 1756 to 1815 British privateers sailed from Halifax, Liverpool and other Atlantic ports, cruising as far south as Venezuela.

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Snowbirds

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are a military aerobatics team. They are officially known as "431 Air Demonstration Squadron." Since 1971, the team has performed across North America before millions of people. The Snowbirds have been recognized as among the best in the world at precision formation aerobatics and stunning solo crosses with minimum separation between the aircraft.

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Battle of Ortona

In December 1943, as part of the Allied advance through Italy during the Second World War, Canadian forces fought one of their toughest battles of the war in a bid to capture the town of Ortona. The month-long campaign — first at the Moro River outside Ortona, then with vicious street fighting in the town itself — cost more than 2,300 Canadian casualties, but eventually won Ortona for the Allies.

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Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service

Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the Canadian government responded to national security concerns generated by Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union by spying on, exposing and removing suspected LGBTQ individuals from the federal public service and the Canadian Armed Forces. They were cast as social and political subversives and seen as targets for blackmail by communist regimes seeking classified information. These characterizations were justified by arguments that people who engaged in same-sex relations suffered from a “character weakness” and had something to hide because their sexuality was considered a taboo and, under certain circumstances, was illegal. As a result, the RCMP investigated large numbers of people. Many of them were fired, demoted or forced to resign — even if they had no access to security information. These measures were kept out of public view to prevent scandal and to keep counter-espionage operations under wraps. In 2017, the federal government issued an official apology for its discriminatory actions and policies, along with a $145-million compensation package.

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Wartime Home Front

The two world wars of the 20th century were total wars that involved the whole nation, and the "home front" became a critical part of Canada’s effort.

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Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future. The country has 162,000 km of Arctic coastline. Forty per cent of Canada’s landmass is in its three northern territories. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century. There has been growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2008, “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”