Centre for International and Defence Policy

Centre for International and Defence Policy
Centre for International and Defence Policy

"They're More Like Guidelines Anyways" - The Rush-Bagot Agreement:
Preventing an Arms Race and Understanding 200 Years of Canada-U.S. Relations

Tuesday, October 3, 2017  Time: 12-1:00 pm
Robert Sutherland Hall, room 448 



In 1817, Great Britain and the United States concluded the Rush–Bagot Agreement to prevent a naval arms race on the Great Lakes. Despite frequent transgressions to the agreement, by the 1920s, the agreement was heralded internationally as a model to emulate. The predominant scholarly focus on the agreement in the nineteenth century fails to explain why a broken agreement in one century was praiseworthy in the next. This article argues that the twentieth-century narrative of the agreement is of critical important to explaining the agreement’s impact on Canada–US relations. Through the lens of three stages of Canadian political leadership, this article demonstrates that the Rush-Bagot Agreement shifted from a rigid compact to a symbolic agreement that not only reflected but aided the transition toward one of the most unique security relationships. The article concludes that this extant agreement reinforces the prevalent notion of the “undefended border” in Canada–US relations.

Christopher Radojewski | October 2017


Christopher Radojewski

Senior Intergovernmental Officer | Provincial and State Engagement
Alberta Washington Office | Economic Development and Trade



Christopher Mark Radojewski is a senior intergovernmental officer in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade with the Government of Alberta. He holds an MA in Political Studies from Queen’s University and a Joint Honours in History & Political Science from the University of Ottawa. Previously, he was a researcher for the War of 1812 Casualties Database and an intern in Public Affairs at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC. He resides in Edmonton, Alberta, where he serves as the President of the Friends of Royal Alberta Museum Society.