Documents on Canadian External Relations

Since the first volume in the series Documents on Canadian External Relations was published in 1967 to mark Canada’s centenary, this documentary collection has become a vital source for the study of Canada's foreign relations. It represents the basic published record of the foreign policy and foreign relations of the Government of Canada, and provides a comprehensive, self-contained record of Canada's major foreign policy decisions and their underlying rationale.

The early volumes of Documents on Canadian External Relations, which are only available as paper editions in libraries, chronicle Canada's efforts from 1909 onward to define and express its international persona. The first six volumes trace the country's early struggle during and after the First World War to become an autonomous dominion. Included in these volumes is material on Canada's evolving place in the British Empire, its role at the Paris Peace Conference and the new League of Nations, and its response to the rise of Fascism in Europe and Asia. Volumes 7 through 11 document Canadian diplomacy during the Second World War as the country grew into a middle power with global interests and responsibilities. Among the topics covered in these volumes are the conduct of war with Germany and Japan, the problems associated with postwar planning, and the creation of the United Nations. Increasing attention is devoted in the wartime volumes to the challenges created for Canada by the growing international prominence of the United States, its closest neighbour and most important economic partner.

Subsequent volumes, available on-line, follow Canada's diplomatic fortunes into the postwar period. The Cold War provides these volumes, which stretch into the early 1950s, with a thematic unity. Each volume includes extensive documentation on the conflict with the Soviet Union and records in detail Canada's reaction to the American-led effort to organize the West. The origins of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the conduct of the Korean War, and the developing crisis in Indochina, where Canada served on the commissions overseeing the Geneva Accords, are among the subjects given considerable space. These postwar volumes also document defence relations with the United States, the growing dangers of nuclear diplomacy, and the challenges and opportunities created for Canada by the restoration of Western Europe.

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