Search for "Cold War"

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Prestonian-class Frigates

The Prestonians were a group of 21 Second World War frigates reactivated by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in the 1950s for antisubmarine warfare (ASW). This was a stopgap measure to meet Canada’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) force goals until the purpose-built St Laurent-class destroyer escorts came into service. Although originally built as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) vessels, the Prestonians had to be extensively modified to meet the more complex demands of Cold War ASW, which they performed until withdrawn in the mid-1960s.

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Oberon-class Submarines

The Oberon class was a highly successful British conventional submarine design, operated by the Royal Navy (RN) and exported widely to Commonwealth and allied navies. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) acquired three of the type in the mid-1960s to act as antisubmarine warfare (ASW) training “targets” for surface and air forces. A major operational update in the 1980s transformed them into true hunter-killer attack submarines and laid the groundwork for a proper submarine force with their replacement by the Victoria class at the turn of the 21st century.

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CFS Shelburne (HMCS Shelburne)

During the Second World War, a large naval repair base was established at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, where many Allied ships were refitted and repaired following their work maintaining convoy and antisubmarine surveillance in the Atlantic. During the Cold War, HMCS (later CFS) Shelburne played an important role in antisubmarine warfare, part of the SOSUS/IUSS network of passive sonar stations that identified and tracked Soviet submarines. CFS Shelburne was decommissioned in 1995.

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CH-124 Sea King

The Sea King entered service with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1963 as an all-weather shipborne helicopter to provide close antisubmarine warfare (ASW) protection for ships at sea. By the time it was retired from service 55 years later, in 2018, it had undergone a variety of modifications and role-changes. Throughout, it maintained its well-earned reputation as the workhorse of the fleet. Sea King helicopters were a critical element in nearly every naval operation at home and abroad.

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Iroquois-class Destroyers

The Iroquois class of helicopter-carrying destroyers (DDH) entered service in the Canadian Navy in the early 1970s, featuring several innovations that distinguished them as trailblazers in antisubmarine warfare (ASW). Although only four were built, they played a critical flagship role for deployed Canadian naval task groups. The class was modernized in the early 1990s and transformed into guided-missile destroyers (DDG), providing fleet area air defence until their withdrawal from service in the 2010s.

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UFOs in Canada

For 45 years, the Canadian government investigated unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Several of its departments and agencies collected sighting reports of UFOs in Canadian airspace from 1950 to 1995. These investigations started during the Cold War, spurred by fears of Soviet incursions. What began as a military question eventually became a scientific one. From the start, however, the government was reluctant to study this topic. It devoted few resources to it, believing UFOs to be natural phenomena or the products of “delusional” minds. By contrast, many Canadian citizens were eager for information about UFOs. Citizens started their own investigations and petitioned the government for action. In 1995, due to budget cuts, the government stopped collecting reports altogether. For their part, citizen enthusiasts have continued to investigate UFOs.

timeline event

Ukraine Votes for Independence

In a national referendum with 84 per cent turnout, 90 per cent of Ukrainian voters cast a ballot for Ukraine to declare independence from the USSR. The Soviet Union split into 15 independent countries following its formal dissolution on 31 December 1991. Canada was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence. In 1994, Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for a guarantee that its border would always be respected. By the end of the century, economic hardships had led to 23,000 people leaving Ukraine for Canada. After 2001, roughly 2,500 immigrated per year.

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John Watkins

John Benjamin Clark Watkins, diplomat, scholar (born 3 December 1902 in Norval (now Halton Hills), ON; died 12 October 1964 in Montreal, QC). John Watkins was Canadian ambassador to the USSR from 1954 to 1956. In 1955, Watkins organized a historic meeting between Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester B. Pearson and Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union.

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Canada and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Canada has a long, complicated history with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Canadian soldiers have been attacked with chemical weapons and have used them offensively. (See Canada and Gas Warfare.) Canada has researched chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; but also, ways to defend against them. Some chemical weapons were tested in Canada and against Canadians with long-term consequences. Canada played a crucial role in the development of nuclear weapons. (See Canada and the Manhattan Project.) The country employed nuclear weapons primarily as defensive weapons during the Cold War. Canada signed international documents limiting the use of these weapons. Canada no longer has weapons of mass destruction. However, Canada is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and NORAD — alliances that employ nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

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CS2F Grumman (de Havilland) Tracker

The Tracker was a twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft acquired by the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to be flown off aircraft carriers for antisubmarine warfare (ASW) as a replacement for the Grumman Avenger. Originally developed for the United States Navy (USN), a Canadian version was manufactured under licence by de Havilland Canada as the CS2F. After unification the plane was redesignated as the CP-121; the Trackers became shore-based aircraft after the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure was decommissioned. The Trackers became fully operational in 1959 and were withdrawn from service in 1989.

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Canada and SOSUS

The Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) was a network of passive sonar stations established by the United States Navy (USN) in the early 1950s to “listen” for Soviet submarines. SOSUS was a core element of antisubmarine warfare (ASW) during the Cold War. It developed out of intense postwar oceanographic research into how sound is propagated under water. Given Canada’s shared responsibility for the defence of North America, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was actively engaged in this research and mission and helped operate SOSUS. The mission was highly classified throughout the Cold War and only declassified in 1991. SOSUS became part of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS), a broader network of fixed and towed sensors that remains operational.


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Igor Gouzenko

Igor Sergeievitch Gouzenko, Soviet intelligence officer, author (born 26 January 1919 in Rogachev, Russia; died 25 June 1982 in Mississauga, ON). Igor Gouzenko was a Soviet cipher clerk stationed at the Soviet Union’s Ottawa embassy during the Second World War. Just weeks after the end of the war, Gouzenko defected to the Canadian government with proof that his country had been spying on its wartime allies: Canada, Britain and the United States. This prompted what is known as the Gouzenko Affair. Gouzenko sought asylum for himself and his family in Canada. His defection caused a potentially dangerous international crisis. Many historians consider it the beginning of the Cold War.

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Leon Katz (Primary Source)

"By the time I arrived in Bad Oeynhausen these laws were already in place or being put in place and I was assigned to implement and control and manage several of these laws."

See below for Mr. Katz's entire testimony.


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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Halifax-class Frigates

The Halifax class of helicopter-carrying frigates (FFH) are multi-purpose warships of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). There are 12 ships in the class. They were conceived in the 1970s as a replacement of the St Laurent and related classes of destroyer escorts, to provide antisubmarine warfare (ASW) protection for the fleet. The Halifax class entered service in the early 1990s, just after the end of the Cold War, and proved instead to be highly versatile general-purpose warships. Due to a major class-wide modernization project completed in the 2010s, they remain the backbone of the RCN surface fleet. The Halifax class will be replaced in the 2030s by the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) ships announced in 2019.