Peace Movements

The three case studies which form this theme concern three very different peace movements, the best known of which is probably the British Peace Pledge Union, formed in 1934. Established at almost the same time was the Canadian Youth Congress: the records for this group also contain materials relating to the Canadian League for Peace and Democracy. The third group represented here is a more recently formed Canadian movement, Tools for Peace.

In addition to these three case studies, there is a study of the Pugwash Movement which has been placed in the theme Nuclear Disarmament.

We have also selected other interesting materials, including many posters, from the following archives that are not linked to any specific case study. They include an iconic John Lennon poster, "Give Peace A Chance".

Tools for Peace, a “Made in Canada” Peace Movement

Following the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua in July 1979, a dynamic grass roots movement emerged in Canada in support of the Nicaraguan people. Out of this solidarity movement evolved a nation-wide campaign called Tools for Peace. Throughout the 1980s, Tools for Peace’s annual collection of material aid became a rallying point for thousands of Canadians from all walks of life who wanted to support the Nicaraguan people, and express their opposition to the U.S.’s economic blockade and military intervention.

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“To renounce war ... and never support or sanction another”: The Peace Pledge Union, from 1934 to the 1960s

The dozen years following the First World War saw the general development of a cautious optimism that the preconditions of a just, stable and durable world peace were within reach. This hopeful mood was reflected in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, an agreement to renounce war as a method of resolving international disputes. Drafted by the American and French foreign ministers, the pact was eventually signed by sixty-two states.

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Youth Mobilize for Peace: The Canadian Youth Congress in the 1930s

For many of us, the terms “young people” and “peace movement” bring to mind the 1960s and early 1970s and the protests against American participation in the Vietnam War. Few of us know that thirty years earlier, there was another youth-led peace movement that was eventually overshadowed by the Second World War. In the midst of the bleakness of the 1930s—the collapse of the capitalist economy, the rise of fascism, and the growing threat of war—optimistic youth made an impressive stand for peace.

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