Today’s post is written by Larry Shockley, Archives Specialist in the Office of Innovation.
A 1995 comedic film titled Canadian Bacon was directed by Michael Moore, and starred Alan Alda as a U.S. President whose approval ratings were tanking. In order to give his administration the desired boost with his base the president and his advisors concocted a ludicrous plan: They would go to war with Canada!
While the film itself, which also starred John Candy, Rhea Perlman, Bill Nunn, Kevin J. O’Conner, and Rip Torn stands as one of the most underrated comedic films of its era, much of the humor rests in the “absurd” notion that America would ever think of invading Canada. It is no small irony then, that in the late 1920’s the United States Military began drawing up plans to do just that.
Completed in 1930, and declassified in 1974, Joint Board 325 – Serial 435 (NAID 16749799), from General Correspondence, 1903-1938, Record Group 225: Records of the Joint Army and Navy Boards and Committees, and abbreviated as “War Plan-Red,” called for invading Canada (CRIMSON) in the event of a war with Great Britain (RED). During the war the state of Maine would serve as a base in order to either cut communications between Quebec and Montreal with the Maritime Provinces, or to launch land and/or air strikes against Halifax and New Brunswick. It was believed that taking over control of the Niagara power and coal from Great Britain and the western Canadian provinces would result in “an immediate strangulation of its manufacturing and munitioning capacity.”
According to the plan, in the event of a war between the U.S. and Great Britain, it would be “advantageous” to the U.S. for Canada to forgo neutrality and remain allied with Great Britain so the U.S. “would be free to employ her greatly superior man-power in overrunning CRIMSON.”
It was believed that the most likely cause of war between the U.S. and Great Britain would be the increasing economic and commercial expansion into geographical regions once controlled by the British. In this view, increased economic expansion by the U.S. would eventually become a “menace” to British standards of living and thus “threaten economic ruin.”
Obviously no invasion of Canada, or war with Great Britain ever took place post 1930, however this report does stand as an example of how the U.S. military found a need to be “prepared for anything” during the interwar years of 1919 through 1938.
It is also interesting to note that nearly a decade earlier in 1921, the Canadian Director of Military Operations and Intelligence; Lieutenant Colonel James “Buster” Sutherland Brown, had helped create“Defence Scheme No. 1” which called for counter attacks against U.S. targets should the need arise.
Thankfully, almost a century after Defence Scheme No. 1, Canada’s biggest threats to the U.S. are hockey, universal healthcare and Justin Bieber.