Cautious Beginnings
264 pages, 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
Release Date:01 Jan 2009
Release Date:30 Jun 2008
Release Date:01 Jan 2009
Release Date:01 Jan 2009

Cautious Beginnings

Canadian Foreign Intelligence, 1939-51

UBC Press

When the Second World War began, Canada had no foreign intelligence capacity. Its political leaders had concluded that a clandestine service was not necessary to meet the nation’s intelligence requirements. Yet Kurt F. Jensen argues that the country was a more active intelligence partner in the wartime alliance than has previously been suggested.

Drawing on newly released materials and exhaustive research, he describes Canada’s contributions to Allied intelligence before the war began, as well as the distinctly Canadian activities that started from that point. He reveals how the government created an intelligence organization during the war to aid Allied resources and established operations such as SIGINT, or Signal Intelligence, which intercepted and decrypted Vichy and Free French diplomatic communications.

Cautious Beginnings spans the period from 1939 to 1951, when key policy and personnel structures were put in place. In the postwar years, Canada reconfigured its foreign intelligence operations to meet the challenges of a changing world, and by the early 1950s possessed resources that rivalled or exceeded those of many other nations. This is a convincing portrait of a nation with an active role in Second World War intelligence gathering, one that continues to influence the architecture of its current capabilities.

Drawing on newly released materials and exhaustive research, this book will greatly interest students and academics in Canadian history, political science, military history, specialists in the field, and anyone interested in the often mysterious world of foreign intelligence.

Jensen’s work will prove to be a significant historiographical foundation on which future scholars will undoubtedly build their own studies of intelligence in the later Cold War and post-9/11 periods. Kevin Spooner, Wilfrid Laurier University, H-Canada
Kurt Jensen’s well-researched Cautious Beginnings: Canadian Foreign Intelligence 1939-51 sets out the historical case for Canada’s decision in 1951 to not create its own clandestine foreign intelligence service. Robert Henderson, International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, Vol 24, No 2
Kurt Jensen's fine book contributes much to our understanding of the early foundations and evolution of the complex and well-developed security and intelligence world in which Canada finds itself today. Reg Whitaker
Kurt F. Jensen is a former Canadian diplomat whose assignments included work with foreign intelligence. He also teaches political science at Carleton University.


1 Foreign Intelligence at the Beginning of the War

2 The Birth of the Examination Unit

3 Building Alliances

4 Canadian HUMINT Collection

5 The Mousetrap Operation, 1942-43

6 Canadian Intelligence at War

7 Planning for Postwar SIGINT

8 Postwar Intelligence Structures

9 The Postwar SIGINT Community




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