Worth Fighting For

Worth Fighting For

Canada’s Tradition of War Resistance from 1812 to the War on Terror

Edited by Lara Campbell, Michael Dawson and Catherine Gidney


$34.95 $27.9620% off
Shop Local


$33.99 $27.1920% off


View on Overdrive

Historians, veterans, museums, and public education campaigns have all documented and commemorated the experience of Canadians in times of war. But Canada also has a long, rich, and important historical tradition of resistance to both war and militarization. This collection brings together the work of sixteen scholars on the history of war resistance. Together they explore resistance to specific wars (including the South African War, the First and Second World Wars, and Vietnam), the ideology and nature of resistance (national, ethical, political, spiritual), and organized activism against militarization (such as cadet training, the Cold War, and nuclear arms).

As the federal government continues to support the commemoration and celebration of Canada’s participation in past wars, this collection offers a timely response that explores the complexity of Canada’s position in times of war and the role of social movements in challenging the militarization of Canadian society.

More by this Author


Worth Fighting For should be required movement reading in a time when our government (and perhaps those in waiting, too) feel it’s okay to toss aside the narratives and experiences and lives lived of those who disagree with their party lines.

CCPA Monitor

Read this wonderful collection and be prepared for a totally new kind of Canadian war story – the anti-war story. Worth Fighting For uncovers, examines and celebrates an essential but long neglected stream in Canadian war history. It’s a story of resistance and vision, and it’s been helping to shape Canada’s character since well before confederation.

– Ernie Regehr, author of Disarming Conflict

The edited collection Worth Fighting For, is an important addition to historical literature about Canada. The nineteen different contributors provide insight into the politics, activism, institutions, social movements, and individuals that make up a long tradition of Canadian war resistance.

Labour/Le Travail

Whether you are a lifelong peace activist or an enthusiast for a robust and muscular Canadian military, Worth Fighting For is worth your time… . The “warrior nation” debates are likely to continue in the foreseeable future, and the authors and editors of this fascinating book have done us all a favour by providing intelligent and well-written briefing papers on its historical background.

Vancouver Sun

The contributors to the ironically titled Worth Fighting For have performed an admirable public service. They’ve provided an insightful alternative to today’s patriotically correct effort to shift Canadian self-understanding in a warlike direction. Here is a fascinating collection of incisive arguments showing that Canada has a long and proud tradition of fighting war, not just wars.

– Jamie Swift, co-author, Warrior Nation

At a time when government is promoting our traditions of military valour, this compilation of essays is a useful reminder that, historically, the Canadian reaction to war has been far more complicated.

– Thomas Walkom, National Affairs Columnist, Toronto Star

In the midst of contemporary debates about Canada’s legacy as a “warrior” nation or a “peacekeeping” nation, this welcome collection of wide-ranging case studies that span 200 years provides sound evidence of individuals and groups that rejected militarism as a national ethos or a solution to global conflict. Finally, alongside the numerous books on Canada “at war”, we have an outstanding volume that chronicles Canadians who actively “resisted war”. The original perspectives here will not only enrich the current debate, but will positively shift our narrative of Canadian history itself.

– Marlene Epp, History and Peace & Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo

Feeling some, ah, resistance about being part of Canada’s latest little war in some distant desert? Worth Fighting For will reassure you that Canadians have been resisting war and war fever for centuries. Prominent historians and younger scholars here explore everyone from Christian pacifists in the War of 1812 to today’s classroom school teachers seeking to interrogate war. Canada was forged by war resistance as well as by war.

– Christopher Moore, writer and historian (christophermoore.ca)


Lara Campbell, Michael Dawson, Catherine Gidney
Chapter 1 Scruples of Conscience’ and the Historic Peace Churches in the War of 1812
Jonathan Seiling
Chapter 2 A Mixed Blessing: the Pacifist Sects of Upper Canada and Exemption from Militia Duty, 1793–1867
Ross Fair
Chapter 3 Dissent in Canada against the Anglo-Boer War, 1899–1902
Amy Shaw
Chapter 4 With Thought and Faith: Henri Bourassa and the Great War
Geoff Keelan
Chapter 5 A Better Truth: The Democratic Legacy of Resistance to Conscription, 1917–1921
David Tough
Chapter 6 Challenging Strathcona: The Cadet Training Controversy in English Canada, 1920–1950
Cynthia Comacchio
Chapter 7 ‘This thing is in our blood for 400 years’: Conscientious Objection in Canadian Historic Peace Churches During the Second World War
Conrad Stoesz
Chapter 8 Principal Purdie Objects: Canadian Pentecostal Students and Conscription during World War Two
Linda Ambrose
Chapter 9 Margaret Ells Russell, Women Strike for Peace, and the Global Politics of ‘Intelligent Compassion,’ 1961–1965
Ian McKay
Chapter 10 Bridging and Breaching Cold War Divides: Transnational Peace Building, State Surveillance and the Voice of Women
Marie Hammond-Callaghan
Chapter 11 Fighting the War at Home: Voice of Women and War Toy Activism in Postwar Canada
Braden Hutchinson
Chapter 12 Project La Macaza: A Study of Two Canadian Peace Protests in the 1960s
Bruce Douville
Chapter 13 'A Very Major Wheel That Helped Grind Down the War:' The Canadian anti-Draft Movement, 1966–73
Jessica Squires
Chapter 14 The Fasting Granny vs. the Trudeau Government: Demanding an End to the Canadian Presence in Vietnam
Tarah Brookfield
Chapter 15 'A good teacher is a revolutionary': Alternative War Perspectives in Toronto Classrooms, 1960s–1990s
Rose Fine-Meyer
Chapter 16 Rewriting History: Iraq War Resisters’ Struggle for Asylum in Canada and the Mythology of Vietnam
Luke Stewart
Chapter 17 'There is nothing more inclusive than ‘O Canada’: New Brunswick’s Elementary School Anthem Debate and the Shadow of Afghanistan
Michael Dawson and Catherine Gidney