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Lock, Stock, and Icebergs: A History of Canada's Arctic Maritime Sovereignty


By: Adam Lajeunesse(Author)

672 pages, 14 photos, 12 maps, 3 tables

University of British Columbia Press

Paperback | Jul 2016 | #233822 | ISBN-13: 9780774831093
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £32.99 $43/€37 approx
Hardback | Feb 2016 | #233821 | ISBN-13: 9780774831086
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £84.99 $112/€97 approx

About this book

In 1988, after years of failed negotiations over the status of the Northwest Passage, Brian Mulroney gave Ronald Reagan a globe, pointed to the Arctic, and said "Ron that's ours. We own it lock, stock, and icebergs". A simple statement, it summed up a hundred years of official policy. Since the nineteenth century, Canadian governments have claimed ownership of the land and the icy passageways that make up the Arctic Archipelago. Unfortunately for Ottawa, many countries – including the United States – still do not recognize the Northwest Passage as internal Canadian waters.

Crucial to understanding the complex nature of Canada's Arctic sovereignty is an understanding of its history. In Lock, Stock, and Icebergs, Adam Lajeunesse draws on a wealth of recently declassified Canadian and American archival material to chart the origins and development of Canadian Arctic maritime policy – from the earliest police patrols in Hudson Bay to the deployment of nuclear submarines. Detailing decades of internal policy debates, secret negotiations with the United States, and long-classified joint-defence projects, he traces the circuitous history of Canada's official claim to the Northwest Passage and other Arctic waters.

Lock, Stock, and Icebergs shows how successive governments spent decades trying to figure out what exactly ownership of these waters entailed. It sets the stage for understanding the challenges Canada now faces as it navigates a rapidly changing Arctic, especially in terms of balancing the political requirements of sovereignty with concerns about the environmental and economic and social development. One thing is certain: in the years to come, strengthening Arctic sovereignty will become a more complex process than ever before.

"Exceptionally well-written and researched, this book adds critical new insight into Canadian-American relations and negotiations over the status of Canada's Arctic waters, particularly the Northwest Passage. It is a 'must read' for all federal politicians, foreign affairs officials, scholars of the north, and anyone interested in Canada's Arctic sovereignty and the measures needed to protect it."
– Shelagh D. Grant, author of Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America

"Lock, Stock, and Icebergs provides a behind-the-scenes look at the evolution and eventual proclamation of Canada's Maritime Arctic sovereignty policy. The wealth of historical documents presented here also reveals that this policy was fashioned not through consultation but by officials and politicians in Ottawa who rarely ventured north of 60°. It is a lesson that we ignore at our peril."
– Tom Axworthy, Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto



1 The Origins of Canada’s Arctic Maritime Sovereignty
2 The Early Cold War and the End of Splendid Isolation
3 Continental Defence and Straight Baselines
4 Working with the Americans in the Arctic
5 The Nuclear Submarine and Early Arctic Operations
6 Canada’s Law of the Sea Priorities
7 The Manhattan Crisis and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act
8 Securing the Canadian Claim: Defence and Diplomacy
9 Canada and the Third UN Law of the Sea Conference
10 The Cold War under Ice
11 The Establishment of Straight Baselines
12 Unfinished Business


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Adam Lajeunesse is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo.

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