Skip to main content
Cold War Radar

Importance of the Arctic

The Arctic was interesting in that it was the largest border in the world that was not defended.  It was difficult to reach, and cold once it was and thus was not considered vulnerable.

The role the Arctic could play was first recognized in the Second World War, but it was in the Cold War that it came to be regarded as vital to the survival of North America.  The United States really began to fear Soviet attack over the Arctic.

In reality, almost all the courses between the United States and the Soviet Union would have crossed Canada’s Arctic.

The idea of placing radar in Canada's North was considered beginning in 1946.  The Americans knew how important the North was for their cause, especially once things escalated after the Soviet Union got the bomb and after the Korean War.

It was with the DEW Line that the North saw the epitome of military involement.  This brought people to lands previously thought unlivable.  These people were not there to protect the Arctic itself, but rather as a gateway to North America.

In 1955, Leslie Roberts became the first reporter to visit the DEW Line which was monumental.  Though important, there was still a lot of secrecy surrounding involvement in the North and many Americans did not even know about the DEW Line.