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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Price: $29.95

Hardback 416 pp.
10 b/w illustrations, 6" x 9"



Publication date:
January 2013

Imprint: OUP Canada

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Canada and the End of the Imperial Dream

Beverley Baxter's Reports from London through War and Peace, 1936-1960

Neville Thompson

Decades after political independence, Britain's cultural influence on the Canadian population remained strong. Beverly Baxter, a Canadian-born journalist and British politician, reinforced this imperial connection through his semi-monthly column in Maclean's magazine called, simply, London Letters. Six hundred of these widely read and deeply influential articles were published from 1936 to 1960, becoming the most important Canadian source of information on British politics, culture, and society of their time.

More than the story of Baxter himself, this stylishly written account provides new insights into a transformative era in Canadian history. As the British Empire disintegrated and a nationalistic Canada emerged on the world stage, Baxter maintained an imperial vision. His vivid and opinionated column reported on crucial international events - from the victory over Germany in 1945 to the Suez crisis - amidst a backdrop of rising global superpowers.

Accompanied by rare archival images, Canada and the End of the Imperial Dream is a history of politics, war, imperial and international relations, culture, and the personalities that moved the world in the troubled middle years of the twentieth century.

Readership : Canada and the End of the Imperial Dream will be of interest to readers of Canadian and British history, as well as twentieth-century history and journalism. Spanning the war years, the book will also appeal to those interested in the Second World War.


  • "Thompson's smooth-flowing narrative offers deep context for each of Baxter's writings."

    --Publishers Weekly

  • "The hundreds of columns Baxter published in Maclean's and in British papers over a twenty-four-year period provide Neville Thompson with an extraordinary - and entertaining - resource...what is surprising is the erudition Baxter expects of his readers, many of whom were in small towns and whistlestop villages across Canada, who read of 'Drake's drum', Nelson walking the corridors of the Admiralty, Pitt's soul stirring in Parliament, not to mention Dickens and Pericles. Thus, without endorsing Baxter's imperial dream, Thompson provides an elegy for conception of the popular audience long gone."

    --Times Literary Supplement

1. Overture: An Imperial Citizen Goes Home
2. The British Imperial Standard
3. Pax Umbrellica
4. Who Lives if England Dies?
5. Churchill's War at Westminster
6. Hoping for a Priceless Victory
7. Fighting the New Jerusalem
8. No Glad Confident Morning
9. Suez: The Last Hinge of Empire
10. Envoi: There'll Always Be an England

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Neville Thompson is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Western Ontario, where he taught modern British and European history. He was previously a faculty member at Huron University College and McMaster University. A specialist in the political, diplomatic, and imperial history of modern Britain, he is the author of Earl Bathurst and the British Empire, Wellington after Waterloo, and The Anti-Appeasers.

Maple Leaf Empire - Jonathan F. Vance
A History of Canadian Culture - Jonathan F. Vance
The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History - J. L. Granatstein and Dean F. Oliver
Canada and the British Empire - Edited by Phillip Buckner

Special Features

  • Compelling history. Covers some of the most profound events of the twentieth century, from the Second World War to the Cold War and Suez crisis.
  • Revealing biography. In part the story of Beverly Baxter, the most important person conveying information about Britain to Canada for a quarter of a century.
  • Cultural icon. A historical glimpse into Maclean's magazine, the only national general interest magazine in English Canada in the mid-twentieth century.
  • Success story. A Canadian living in Britain, Baxter was a well-respected journalist and newspaper editor in London, as well as British Member of Parliament.
  • Stylish prose. Written for a wide audience in a style that is variously witty, ironic, and compelling.
  • Influential "characters." Includes a cast of characters who largely shaped the twentieth century - including Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, Mackenzie King, Stalin, and Hitler.
  • Opinionated. Baxter was a firm supporter of the British imperial connection, ever keen to persuade his audience back home to preserve the British links.
  • Archival images. Includes reproductions from Maclean's archives, among other sources.