Cold War (1945-91) -
The end of the Second World War saw the growth of tension and conflict
between the western allies and the Soviet Union under Stalin. The alliance
against the common Axis enemies had always been a strained one and Stalin's
designs on post-war Europe became obvious with the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Winston Churchill publicly acknowledged what he and senior government
and military leaders had known since the end of the war when he made
his famous "Iron Curtain" speech during a visit to Fulton,
Missouri. From that time until the fall of the Soviet Union the relationship
between west and east was fraught with the threat of another global
conflict breaking out. With the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the
Soviet Union this threat carried with it the horrendous possibility
of a nuclear exchange.
Forces Sabres Fly past at an RCAF airbase in Europe
In a number
of events beginning with the cutting off of supplies to west Berlin
by the Soviets and ranging through the Korean war, Hungarian revolution,
Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan and to the final
dramatic events surrounding the fall of communism in Europe, both sides
maintained a close watch on each other.
reaction to the Cold War was the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) in 1949 as a collective security measure against
the Soviet threat. For their part the Soviet Union and its eastern European
satellite states formed the Warsaw Pact. Massive land, sea and air forces
where built and maintained at a high state of readiness for what stretched
into decades. A whole generation of Canadian Forces personnel served
in Europe as part of NATO's standing defences there. The Canadian Army,
Air Force and Navy all participated in ongoing training and operational
readiness exercises in those decades where the possibility of war was
never far from reality. Although it was a Cold War, there were casualties
on both sides as a result of operational accidents.
North American continent the Cold War brought about an even closer military
relationship between Canada and the United States as both countries
territories where now under serious threat from air attack. The Royal
Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and United States Air Force (USAF) established
a sophisticated early-warning and command-and-control system within
the context of the North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) agreement.
This arrangement has been in place since its inception in 1958 and is
periodically reviewed for renewal.
Voodoo fighters were a part of Canada's NORAD capability
and tensions of the Cold War were successfully navigated by Canada and
its allies with a mix of diplomacy and the military security afforded
by NATO and NORAD. The Cold War is over now but NATO and NORAD remain
with new roles in fulfilling Canada's security needs into the 21st century.
find out more about the Cold War go to these excellent web pages on
the Canadian War Museum, Cold War Museum,CBC and Dept. of Defence websites: