Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

“South Detroit, Canada”: Isolation, Identity and the US–Canada Border, 1914–1918

Brandon Dimmel


For most of the 19th century, the US–Canadian border was undefended. But in the early 20th century, concerns in both Washington and Ottawa about the immigration of “undesirables” (ranging from Asians to criminals and the mentally and physically ill) forced both federal governments to introduce immigration services that would carefully scrutinize cross-border traffic. Fighting in Europe after 1914 intensified government monitoring of the boundary, as Canada and then later the US attempted to keep production high and citizens safe. This paper explores the ways in which residents of Windsor, Ontario reacted to government measures that effectively reduced the Detroit River’s permeability and focuses on Windsorites’ tendency to voice protest in language that distanced them, ideologically speaking, from other Canadians, be it in federal capital Ottawa or provincial center Toronto. The findings in this paper suggest that, even amidst the nationalism of war, a transnational identity served to distinguish Windsor residents from other Canadians.

Full Text:


All rights reserved
Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229