Engaging the Line
242 pages, 6 x 9
28 b&w photos
Release Date:15 Apr 2017
Release Date:13 Oct 2016
Release Date:15 Oct 2016
Release Date:15 Oct 2016

Engaging the Line

How the Great War Shaped the Canada–US Border

UBC Press

For decades, people living in adjacent communities along the Canada–US border enjoyed close social and economic relationships with their neighbours across the line. The introduction of new security measures during the First World War threatened this way of life by restricting the movement of people and goods across the border. Many Canadians resented the new regulations introduced by their provincial and federal governments, deriding them as “outside influences” that created friction where none had existed before.

Engaging the Line examines responses to wartime regulations in several border communities, including Windsor, Ontario; Detroit, Michigan; and White Rock, British Columbia. This book brings to life the repercussions for these communities and offers readers a glimpse at the origins of our modern, highly secured border by tracing the shifting relationship between citizens and the state during wartime.

This book will be an invaluable resource for those studying the First World War, borderland culture, the military history of the North American home front, and political culture.

For residents of Windsor, the entire border-crossing experience had changed dramatically since 1914, when immigration authorities limited their interrogations to visible and undesirable racial groups, criminals, prostitutes, and people with obvious mental and physical illnesses. Now a fifth-generation Anglo-Saxon Windsor resident with family living in Ypsilanti and a job in downtown Detroit could expect the same kind of attention. All of this, of course, was designed to ensure that Canadian men of military age did their duty and to keep the people of Windsor – by that point witnesses to the work of Detroit-based enemy terrorists – safe from German American raiders and saboteurs. From Chapter 2 of Engaging the Line
Engaging the Line is a significant contribution to North American border studies. It reveals that the intensity of Canadian nationalism varied by location, which in turn indicates Canada’s differing regional histories and diversity and duration of settler experience. Its exploration of the regional nuances of ‘crossing culture’ also adds to our understanding of the impact of war on the home front. Keith Regular, The Ormsby Review
Engaging the Line blends political, social, and cultural history in order to assess how global developments in the first decades of the twentieth century reshaped the boundary and relationship between the USA and Canada. Holly M. Karibo, Oklahoma State University, International Journal
Engaging The Line is a smart, crisp account of the First World War’s impact on border life. The topic is not merely timely but compelling … Engaging The Line is likeable and meticulously researched, a warm account of an era we left behind. Holly Doan, Blacklock’s Reporter
Brandon R. Dimmel is a historian and writer based in London, Ontario, who has taught in the departments of history at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor. His work on the history of the Canada–US border and the First World War has been published in Histoire sociale/Social History, Journal of Borderlands Studies, American Review of Canadian Studies, 49th Parallel, Public Sector Digest, and the collection of essays Beyond the Border: Tensions across the Forty-Ninth Parallel in the Great Plains and Prairies.


Part 1: Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan

1 “Brothers Once More”: Relations between Windsor and Detroit

2 “Part and Parcel”: Administering the Windsor-Detroit Border

Part 2: St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and Calais, Maine

3 The “Ties that Bind”: Relations between St. Stephen and Calais

4 “A Very Convenient Arrangement”: Administering the St. StephenCalais Border

Part 3: White Rock, British Columbia, and Blaine, Washington

5 “God Save the King”: Relations between White Rock and Blaine

6 Booze and Bandits: Administering the White Rock–Blaine Border





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