Warrior Nation

Warrior Nation

Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety

By Ian McKay and Jamie Swift


Shop Local


  • John W. Dafoe Book Prize, 2012 (Short-listed)
  • Independent Publisher Book Award for Current Events (Foreign Affairs/Military), 2013 (Runner-up)

Once known for peacekeeping, Canada is becoming a militarized nation whose apostles—-the New Warriors-—are fighting to shift public opinion. New Warrior zealots seek to transform postwar Canada’s central myth-symbols. Peaceable kingdom. Just society. Multicultural tolerance. Reasoned public debate. Their replacements? A warrior nation. Authoritarian leadership. Permanent political polarization.

The tales cast a vivid light on a story that is crucial to Canada’s future; yet they are also compelling history. Swashbuckling marauder William Stairs, the Royal Military College graduate who helped make the Congo safe for European pillage. Vimy Ridge veteran and Second World War general Tommy Burns, leader of the UN’s first big peacekeeping operation, a soldier who would come to call imperialism the monster of the age. Governor General John Buchan, a concentration camp developer and race theorist who is exalted in the Harper government’s new Citizenship Guide. And that uniquely Canadian paradox, Lester Pearson. Warrior Nation is an essential read for those concerned by the relentless effort to conscript Canadian history.

More by this Author


Thoroughly researched and surprisingly entertaining.

– Globe & Mail

Warrior Nation tells the story—, the whole story. So if you are a peaceable person either by nature or intent, you would do well to listen to Jamie Swift and Ian McKay…before the last trumpet sounds.

– Farley Mowat, author and veteran

This excellent and timely book offers a much needed corrective to the new warrior scholarship that is becoming so pervasive. It should be on the reading list of anyone who is interested in Canadian politics, international relations, and foreign policy.

– Sandra Whitworth, political science, York University

A welcome remedy to the “Support Our Troops” yellow ribbon epidemic.

– Francis Dupuis-Déri, political science, University of Quebec at Montreal, and anti-war activist and writer

McKay and Swift offer a fresh and lively account of a deep ambivalence at the core of Canada’s performance on the world stage,— a handmaiden to empires in the costume of a peacemaker. Here is essential reading.

– Ernie Regehr, co-founder of Project Ploughshares

Warrior Nation is intended to stir controversy, and it will. With compelling prose and abundant evidence…Ian McKay and Jamie Swift have written an important work of engaged and impassioned history, and it deserves a wide readership.

– A. B. McKillop, Chancellor’s Professor and former chair of the history department, Carleton University

With our federal government determined to glorify war and eradicate our enduring attachment to Canada as a promoter of peace, this engaging and highly readable book alerts us to what’s at stake: —the very soul of our nation.

– Linda McQuaig, author and journalist


Chapter 1 War and Peace and Paper Cranes
Chapter 2 Pax Britannica and the White Man's Burden: The African Exploits of William Stairs
Chapter 3 From War to War to War: The Battles of Tommy Burns
Chapter 4 Pearson, Endicott, and the Cold War: Peacekeeping as Passive Revolution
Chapter 5 Peacekeeping and the Monster of Imperialism
Chapter 6 The Decade of Darkness: Peacekeeping at a Crossroads
Chapter 7 Yellow Ribbons and Indian Country: New Warriors on the March
Chapter 8 Military Fantasylands and the Gated Peaceable Kingdom
List of Illustrations