Odds and Ends
Cold War Games
2 5, 9:47pm
Canada doesn't often get a lot of attention in international history, and since the Cold War was primarily concerning the USA and USSR I imagine other countries overlook Canada entirely during that period. But being smack between the two major players, Canada actually was doing stuff too. My teacher for Canadian history was a really great storyteller, and his tale of the Canadian perspective of the Cold War went something like this:
When the Cold War first started brewing, Russia began sending out spies to various countries to conduct espionage and surveillance. They were very secretive and even though tensions between America and Russia were rising and it was suspected that Russia was spying on everyone, no one knew the true extent.
Until one day, an agent working in the Russian Embassy in Ottawa decided to defect. He gathered up a big box of evidence proving that Russia was spying on not only Canada, but also America, Britain, and many other countries. With his box of evidence, he snuck out of the Russian embassy, made his way to RCMP headquarters (the Canadian national security force, equivalent to the FBI in America), and offered them his big box of proof in exchange for protection for him and his family.
The Mounties laughed him out of the building. Russia spying on Canada?? Pull the other one, you comedian!
The poor guy ended up wandering Ottawa with his box of evidence, praying there weren't Soviet assassins already after him, while the RCMP officers had themselves a good chuckle at the crazy Russian.
Eventually word of this event made it to the national security of Britain (pretty sure it was Britain but it might have been the US). I like to think one of the Mounties called up one of his international buddies to share the joke.
Except the Brits weren't laughing. "You mean to say someone came in claiming to have proof of massive espionage endeavours by the Russians and you KICKED HIM OUT?! What if he was telling the truth?! Go find him!!"
After hastily searching Ottawa, the Mounties eventually found the dude who had managed to evade any assassins out for his blood, and took a look through his box of proof, which did indeed prove that Russia was collecting massive amounts of information and surveillance.
The world was shocked, but none so much as America. They lost their shit. All their paranoid suspicions were true, and there was all but panic in the streets. COMMUNIST SPIES COULD BE ANYWHERE, WWIII IS IMMINENT, THE NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE APPROACHES, QUICK LETS TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO HIDE UNDER THEIR DESKS IN THE EVENT OF A NUCLEAR STRIKE AS IF THAT WILL DO A SINGLE DAMN THING!!
Meanwhile up north, rather than panic the national attitude was one of bewilderment. There was undeniable proof that Canada was being spied on, but Canadians still couldn't quite believe it.
"But... Why would someone want to spy on Canada? We're just Canada... We don't have any secrets that you'd need to spy on... Like, are you sure? But why would they spy on us??"
Honestly Russia. You could have just ASKED.
The panic came later, when the US and Russia began threatening each other with nuclear war heads, and doing their whole mutually assured destruction schtick. Because sure, they were building missiles to shoot each other, but they were also trying to figure out ways to stop incoming missiles before they landed.
Which Canada was understandably not happy about because OMG GUYS STOP FIGHTING OVER US. LIKE YOU ARE LITERALLY GOING TO BE FIGHTING OVER TOP OF US, ANY INCOMING MISSILES YOU SHOOT DOWN WILL LAND ON US INSTEAD! WHAT DID WE EVER DO TO DESERVE SUCH TERRIBLE NEIGHBOURS?!
and so, stressed out by the rudeness and bad manners of our neighbours, Canada decided that clearly the best idea in such a bad situation was to use the favourite Canadian tradition for redirecting aggression: putting the Cold War on pause so Canada and Russia could have an epic game of hockey. Several games, actually.
Screw the Cold War and impending Nuclear Apocalypse, forget about some lame Space Race, Canada had to challenge Russia to a Summit Series to determine once and for all who was the best at hockey. The Russians sneaked professional players into the international hockey championships, and then claimed they were the best at hockey when their professional teams beat everyone else's amateurs and Canada would stand for this nonsense NO LONGER!
Spoiler: Canada is best at hockey. The final game, which was a winner-takes-all tie-breaker, is considered one of the greatest games ever played, and Paul Henderson is a national hero for scoring the winning goal.
Not sure how others view it, but Canada's perspective on the Cold War was indignation about our unfortunate next-door neighbours shouting at each other over our heads, and the most epic game of hockey ever played.
Disclaimer: my Canadian History class was... Uh... Damn, nearly 10 years ago now. I may have forgotten or changed in my head certain details in the past decade, but the above is the story I was told to the best of my memory. About the guy with the box of evidence, anyway. I know I'm not wrong about the Summit Series, because like I said, most epic game of hockey with the star player a national hero.
Oh haha I looked it up and I remembered it pretty well, actually!
Apparently after the RCMP laughed him out the door he went to a newspaper and they didn't think he was telling the truth either!! And he really did have people coming after him, I couldn't remember if they really did or he was just afraid they would.
So there you have it kids. The Cold War started in Canada.