An (Im)Balance of Expectations: Civil Defence in Ottawa, 1951-1962

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Sopko, Andrew




Throughout the Cold War, the world lived with the fear that international tensions might lead to the outbreak of a devastating nuclear conflict. This fear drove Canadian policy makers to pursue civil defence, which entailed the organization of local communities and patriotic citizens to assist with the defence of their country by preparing for a nuclear conflict. Ottawa, as the national capital, was a possible target of a nuclear strike by the Soviet Union. From 1950-1962, the high watermark of civil defence, the city uneasily managed to reconcile the competing interests of stakeholders and the public with its civic responsibilities, evolving circumstances, and changeable federal policies. In the end, however, municipal squabbling pushed balance over the line into imbalance, and Ottawa’s civil defence program came crashing down.


Canadian History
Urban and Regional Planning




Carleton University

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