This Week in History
The League of Extraordinary Hopes: Canada and the League of Nations
For the week of Monday January 15, 2007
On January 16, 1920, the Council of the League of Nations held its inaugural meeting in Paris, France. For the next 26 years, the League strove to preserve international peace through dialogue rather than through force.
The main organs of the organization included the Assembly and the Council. Within the Assembly of all member states, Canadian participation was welcomed and its counsel was sought. In 1935, Canadian delegate, Walter A. Riddell, supported sanctions against Italy without first conferring with Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and was subsequently forced to withdraw support. This embarrassing incident illustrates Canada’s unenthusiastic support for the League’s efforts to curb the aggressiveness of member states. This shortsightedness had future consequences.
The League had several key successes but ultimately failed to prevent another world war.
The United Nations, a concept proposed by American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, replaced the League on April 18, 1946. When, on June 26, 1945, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco, Canada was among the original 51 member states. At the League’s final Assembly, Lord Robert Cecil, one of its founders, stated: “The League is dead, long live the United Nations!”
Sir Robert Laird Borden and William Lyon Mackenzie King are both National Historic Persons.
- Date Modified: