Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Scott W. See

Second Committee Member

Jacques Ferland

Third Committee Member

Richard Judd


Canada's involvement in the Americas has been for the most part neglected by scholars in Canadian and Latin American history. American scholars have also disregarded this analysis when they interpret the dynamics of modern hemispheric relations. A more comprehensive understanding of the Western Hemisphere will be achieved by looking at the ways in which Canada developed relations across the region, without interfering with the sphere of influence of imperial powers. Canada's relations with the region emerged from its colonial relationship with Britain; then Canada pursued a different path in the context of its increasing dependence on the United States. From the late nineteenth century, Canada's interest in Latin America remained dominated by agendas of trade. The case study of Canadian-Colombian relations sheds light on the ways in which Canada's private and government actors attempted to construct a clear-cut line of action constrained by limitations imposed by imperial powers. Bilateral relations would initially be established by merchant trade initiatives of the mid nineteenth century. However, its subsidiary role with British interests marked the beginning of a permanent presence of Canadians in Colombia. By the early twentieth century Canadian-owned banks and insurance corporations made their way into the Caribbean, extending their reach to the Atlantic coast of Colombia. By the 1920s, American interests would determine the arrival of Canadian subsidiaries in Colombia. Canada's increasing presence in Colombia before the mid twentieth century would evolve largely without the assistance of official governmental support. Ottawa's reengagement into a North-South approach after the Second World War, and an increasing private sector interest in capitalizing on Colombia's adherence to the international system, eventually forced the creation of an official Canadian policy toward the region. After the 1960s, Canadian development aid would become Ottawa's own clear-cut line that aimed at differentiating itself from the rest of the industrial world. By the end of the 1970s, aid was playing a crucial role in furthering Canadian-Colombian relations and bringing actors in government and the private sector closer together. The study of Canada's involvement in the region enriches the history of Colombia's adhesion into the international system, and it contributes to the broader understanding of Canadian foreign policy and hemispheric history. The analysis of this bilateral relationship also contributes to an understanding of Canadian-American relations and the dynamics of the expansion of capitalist economic development across the region during the twentieth century. The history of Canadian-Colombian engagement from 1892 to 1979 illustrates the crucial role played by Canada's private interests in the definition and maturation of Canada's foreign policy agendas.