Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Northern Passage: American Vietnam War Resisters in Canada

by John Hagan

I visited Toronto for the first time in the summer of 1968 and on returning to the United States spent an August evening listening to Phil Ochs sing in Chicago's Grant Park across from the Democratic Convention hotels the night before the infamous police riot. The brutal images of the Chicago convention are still familiar to most Americans, but it is less well known that Toronto was then also a city coming alive. The American ghetto, described in Chapter 3 of this book and in the Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants that led me there, was taking form in the Baldwin Street neighborhood just south of the University of Toronto. The first arrivals, the "draft dodgers," were soon joined in growing numbers by the "deserters." This area of the city was a benign but unruly communion of countercultural entrepreneurship and anti-war activism. We thought of ourselves as war resisters as well as draft and military resisters, but most of us still do not mind being called "dodgers," for this term still has a positive resonance in Canada. The mood then was a mixture of desperation and excitement; the atmosphere was electric.

No comments: