This Week in History
A Presidential Haven in Canada
This story was initially published in 2002
On August 20, 1964, the Roosevelt Campobello International Park officially opened. Located on Campobello Island off the coast of New Brunswick, the park is the entire 1134-hectare island, and is a tribute to the close relationship between the United States and Canada.
From the age of one until 1921, when he contracted polio, Roosevelt spent most summers on the island. As a child and later as a father raising his own children, he enjoyed outdoor activities such as sailing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming. After 1921, his visits became infrequent due to time and health restrictions.
Roosevelt was elected the 32nd President of the United States in 1933. His visits to Canada were then predominantly for government business. At Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in August 1938, Roosevelt promised to protect Canada if threatened by aggressive nations. In 1941, with Britain at war and the United States still neutral, he met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on a ship off the coast of Newfoundland. There they established the Atlantic Charter, which focussed on issues such as trade during wartime, and world social and economic conditions. In two separate visits, August 1943 and September 1944, Roosevelt met again with Churchill in Québec, to plan the conduct of the war and the post-war settlement. Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King acted as host, but was not involved in the discussions. After the first Québec conference, Roosevelt became the first American president to visit Ottawa, where he addressed a special session of Parliament.
The Atlantic Charter, the Quebec Conferences (1943-1944) and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Campobello Island all have designations of National Historic Significance. The Roosevelt Campobello International Park was established by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. It is one of five international parks between Canada and the United States. The park is not administered by Parks Canada or the U.S. National Parks Services, but by an International Park Commission, and is a unique example of international friendship and co-operation.
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