Sunday, March 5, 2017

When Canada and the USSR were friends -- The 1944 programme of the Second Annual Congress for Canadian-Soviet Friendship in Toronto

Today we are going to take a look at a remarkable document from that very brief period when Canada and the USSR were very warm friends during the Second World War.

The Soviet Union, of course, bore much of the brunt of the war against the Nazis and without the incredibly bravery and resilience of the Soviet peoples during the dark days of 1941, 1942 and 1943 Germany might have won.

This program for the Second Annual Congress for Canadian-Soviet Friendship was from late 1944 by which time the armies of the Allies and the USSR had encircled Germany and the war was, at long last, mere months from its conclusion.

Hard to believe in light of the Cold War and McCarthyism that would follow the 1940s and the war's end, here we see a wide array of corporations, politicians, business leaders and others praising the Soviet people and calling for long term friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

There are many interesting things here. Few realize that Canadian communities "adopted" Soviet cities (Toronto adopted Stalingrad for example). There are also remarkable advertisements and corporate greetings to the USSR including what has to be the only women's slip ad in Canadian history with the hammer and sickle at the top! There are also articles about Stalingrad rebuilding, the creation of Canadian co-operatives and credit unions, Canadian agriculture during the war and much more.

There is a pullout poster for a Soviet movie "The Rainbow" that promises that those going to it in Toronto will be treated to the Soviet national anthem performed by the Red Army Symphony Orchestra!

Looking through it it is almost difficult to imagine given what was to come.

But from Eaton appeals for blood donors to United Steel saying "Let us work together" to the Coleman Lamp Company talking about their "Practical link to the Soviet" here is a journey to a largely forgotten moment in Canadian-Soviet relations.    

(Click on images to enlarge)

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