Canada History

Canada History   timelines 
AskAHistorian    blog 




Prehistory | 2 Worlds Meet | New France | England Arrives | Clash of Empires | Revolution | British America | Reform/Revolt | Responsible Government | Confederation | Nation Building | Laurier | The Great War | Roaring 20's | Great Depression | WWII | The Peace | Cold War | Trudeau | PC's in Power | Modern Canada

Wind from the West | Avro Arrow | Quiet Revolution | Pearson | NORAD | Liberals Win Quebec | NDP | Bill of Rights | The Flag | FLQ | Expo 67

With the building pressures of the cold war, North American defence became a keystone in Canada's foreign policy. The main danger to the country in the early 1950's was nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. The USSR had exploded it's first atomic device in 1949 and began producing bombs shortly thereafter. Their main bomb delivery system was their bomber fleet and by 1951 it looked as though they would have the capability to strike most major Canadian cities with nuclear equipped bombers.

The main Canadian defence against these bomber attacks was the CF-100 fighter which was known as the Canuck. It's speed was sub mach and was therefore incapable f carrying out the mission of intercepting the Soviet bombers.  A new jet fighter needed to be developed and deployed.

The Avro Arrow was the answer to this air defence gap and in 1954 the CF-105, as it was designated, went into full scale design and testing mode. This was to be an al Canadian fighter and would do much to support and assist the aerospace industry in Canada to become one of the best in the world.

By October of 1957 the first prototype rolled out of the hanger. Te first flight took place in March of 1958 but technology and politics were already working together to terminate the Arrow program.

With the election of the Conservative Diefenbaker government in 1957, a policy review was implemented. Diefenbaker had campaigned on reining in "welfare spending" on the industrial sector in eastern Canada as a way to cut spending. The Arrow was a prime target because of it's cost and because technology was changing with the expansion of missiles to space. Sputnik had proven that intercontinental ballistic missile were possible and talk of a missile gap between the east and west began to dominate strategic thinking.

The American answer to Soviet ICBM's was the Bow marc missile which could intercept incoming attacks. They offered to include Canada in the defence and the Diefenbaker government decided that the cheapest and most effect way to counter Soviet attacks would be with the Bow marc. On February 29th, 1959 the Arrow program was cancelled and production halted immediately.

The cancellation of the program led to the laying off of over 29,000 workers who were related to the project and an exodus of highly talented aerospace workers to the United States. The cancellation of the Arrow came to symbolize the style and manner of the Diefenbaker government and became a campaign issue which was used against the Conservative during the next few elections. 

By G Scott staff writter,  2012 - - section:eras, subsection Cold War