I didn't know this. I thought we were all neighborly, but apparently we have a long history of trying to invade Canada. All, obviously, have ended
in failure, but it is an interesting account.
I've compiled all that I could find of historical invasions of our northern neighbor. I can't understand why they are still o polite to us!!!
My sources were;
#1. Lyman Cutlar was an American farmer who, in 1859, had squatted on the San Juan Islands near Seattle. In June, he saw a large black pig eating his
potatoes and shot it dead.
The pig, it turned out, was owned by Charles Griffin, a ranch manager employed by Britain’s Hudson Bay Company.
Modal TriggerPhoto: Since the sovereignty of the San Juan Islands between the US and the United Kingdom had never been resolved, the financial dispute
soon escalated to a military one.
The Pig War, as it was known, began with the US sending 66 soldiers to the area surrounding the ranch on the warship USS Massachusetts and grew to
where the British sent five warships that housed “more than two thousand men and seventy cannons.”
#2 Farce of 1812
For many, the biggest surprise about a book documenting the history of military conflicts between the US and Canada is that it exists at all. But
according to Lippert, not only do our two countries have an intricate history of conflict, but each nation has drawn up once-secret plans for the
invasion of the other.
By 1791, the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada had been created with often ill-defined US borders, and many here saw them as the rightful
possessions of the United States.
So during the War of 1812, those who craved Canada saw opportunity, especially since the American military presence was twice the size of
#3 The Dickson Filibuster 1836
The first minor American invasion of Canada was very minor indeed. James Dickson first appears in history in 1835, when he declared that he would
create an Indian federation with himself as president. The first step in his plan to create an empire spanning the western half of North America was
to seize the fur outposts of Manitoba, where Métis scouts had a tense relationship with the Hudson’s Bay Company. He left Buffalo, New York in
August 1836 with 60 volunteers.
#4 Then came 1839, when, for the only time in our history, Lippert writes, an American state went to war with a foreign country.
Maine had long been engaged in disputes with the Canadian province of New Brunswick over the rights to cut down trees on the border between the two
Officials sent a volunteer militia to “confiscate the equipment of any New Brunswick lumberjack they could find cutting ‘their’ trees.”
But the militia were quickly captured by the Canadians, who “transported them, in chains, to a barracks in Woodstock, New Brunswick.”
The escalation that followed came to be known as the Pork and Beans War, “in honor of the lumberjacks’ beloved favorite meal.” The US Congress
“authorized a force of fifty thousand men and $10 million under the command of General Winfield ‘Old Fuss and Feathers’ Scott.”
#5 In 1858, a group of Irish Catholic Americans founded the Fenian Brotherhood. Hoping to force the British to withdraw from Ireland, they hatched a
simple plan — to seize Canada as a “hostage.”
While the Fenians had significant US support, including from Secretary of State William Seward, they “misread the equation on the northern side of
Expecting support from the Canadian citizenry, they failed to realize that “most Canadian Irish were Protestants from Northern Ireland, not
In the summer of 1866, the Fenians sent “one thousand men in canal boats from Buffalo to Fort Erie, Ontario, part of a planned five-pronged invasion
of Canada from New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, Vermont and the St. Lawrence River.”
#6 While skirmishes between the two nations subsided, the threat of such did not. In 1921, at a time of major tension between the US and Great
Britain over that country’s $22 billion war debt, a Canadian lieutenant colonel named James “Buster” Brown devised Defence Scheme No. 1, “a
plan against an imagined war with the United States, Europe, Japan, or a combination.”
In gathering the intelligence he needed to formulate the plan, Brown “seems to have been inspired by Buster Keaton, as he and four fellow officers
under his command donned disguises, loaded into their Model T, and began an espionage mission along the Canada-New England border” while Brown took
pictures and notes.
Among his insights: that the men of Vermont were “fat and lazy but pleasant and congenial”; that rural American women “appear to be a heavy and
not very comely lot”; and that “if [Americans] are not actually lazy, they have a very deliberate way of working and apparently believe in
frequent rests and gossip.”
The plan he eventually devised called for quick sneak attacks on weak US targets, including crucial infrastructure such as bridges and train tracks,
to slow the US down until the British cavalry arrived.
#7 A decade later, believing that war with Britain was still possible, the War Plans Division of the American War Office created War Plan Red, a plan
for an eventual war with Great Britain that would counter “a Canada-based invasion of the Great Lakes and manufacturing cities of the Northeast”
with “a rapid counterinvasion of Canada.”
The American plan was devised by people with no knowledge of Brown’s plan, yet was “an eerie mirror image” of Brown’s scheme, “with
invasions along almost identical paths.”
One developer of the plan was famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, who “flew covertly as a spy to the west shore of Hudson Bay to investigate the
possibility of using seaplanes for warfare and seek out points of low resistance as potential bridgeheads. He recommended the bombing of industries in
Canada and the use of chemical weapons, supposedly outlawed by the Geneva Protocol of 1925.”
#8 In 1935, “the US Congress approved $57 million for an updated version of the plan,” and to build “three military airfields disguised as
civilian airports on the Canadian border, which would be used to launch preemptive strikes against Canadian air forces and defenses.”
By this time, however, Britain had long since conceded that if the US did invade Canada, they would be unable to defend it, and also decided that
losing Canada “would not be a fatal blow to Great Britain, whose empire then covered about 25% of the world’s landmass.”
#9 The Oka Crisis 1990
The last American invasion of Canada was a curiosity—a group of armed Mohawk Indians who were U.S. citizens traveled to Quebec at the invitation of
militants at the Kanesatake Mohawk reservation to protest the expansion of a golf course on disputed land; politics within the Mohawk nation were
deeply divided on both sides of the border. On July 11, 1990, after two months of confrontation, over 100 Quebecois police charged the Mohawk
militants’ barricades; one of the policemen was killed in the subsequent firefight.
“During a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on June 18, 2014,” writes Lippert, “Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said that, based on his
knowledge, ‘the Pentagon has a contingency plan on the shelf for just about every possible scenario,’ including ‘an invasion by Canada.’ ”