Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file, Admin series

No. 965
The Chairman, U.S. Section, Permanent Joint Board on Defense (Henry) to the President

My Dear Mr. President: In view of the impending visit of the Prime Minister of Canada, I wish to inform you that at the last [Page 2076] meeting of the Board, the Chairman of the Canadian section made a strong plea on behalf of his Government that the Board reaffirm its position, taken in 1948 and 1951, that completion of the St. Lawrence waterway and power projects had a direct bearing on the defense of North America. I assured General McNaughton, Canadian Chairman, that this view, summarized in the attached memorandum, would be brought to the attention of United States authorities.

Sincerely yours,

Guy V. Henry

Major General, U.S.A. (Ret.)



At the meeting April 13–17, 1953, of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, Canada–United States, the Chairman of the Canadian Section presented a submission containing views of the Government of Canada regarding the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project (enclosure no. 1).1 It was suggested that the Board reaffirm its previous recommendations regarding the seaway and power developments.

The Chairman of the United States Section expressed belief that the Board’s action in December 1948 and February 1951 already placed it on record as favoring early development of the St. Lawrence waterway and power projects as in the “best interests” and “vital” for joint defense of Canada and the United States. He agreed, however, to bring the views of the Canadian Section to the proper authorities in the United States.

The submission, after providing familiar background regarding unsuccessful earlier attempts to obtain Congressional approval for joint construction of the power, Ontario is ready to undertake development of its share of the power and navigation phases of the St. Lawrence project, sets forth the present position: The International Joint Commission having approved proposals for the construction of power, Ontario is ready to undertake development of its share of the power and the Canadian authorities are awaiting early and favorable action by the Federal Power Commission on an [Page 2077] application to construct power facilities on the New York State side.

The project is considered urgent in Canada, from the standpoint of preparedness, because the Ontario area to be served by power from the St. Lawrence provides nearly half of Canada’s current production of defense goods. The proportions range from 100% of jet engines to 80% of mechanical transport and 60% of electronic equipment. The area accounts for all Canadian-produced synthetic rubber, a large proportion of explosives, ammunition, ships; large percentages of nickel, copper, cobalt, and strategic non-ferrous metals, as well as major fabricating capacity for specified metals and industrial chemicals. Secondarily, it is asserted, with reference to the reciprocal procurement of defense materials which the Board has fostered, that the more limited but nonetheless real defense needs of the United States are dependent upon industrial plants in Ontario where activity and expansion may be jeopardized failing an early start in the development of power from the St. Lawrence.

The stated Canadian view is that early completion of the St. Lawrence navigation and power project has, with the passing of time, become an urgent requirement in the defense of the North American Continent.

  1. Agenda memorandum for the members of the PJBD, Apr. 2, 1953, not printed. (Eisenhower Library, Eisenhower papers, Whitman file, Admin series)