During the Second World War, Canadian factories produced mountains of munitions and supplies, including some 800 ships, 16,000 aircraft, 800,000 vehicles, and over 4.6 billion rounds of ammunition and artillery shells. Although they were crucial to winning the war, these assets turned into peacetime liabilities when hostilities ended in 1945.
Drawing on comprehensive archival research, Alex Souchen provides a definitive account of the disposal crisis triggered by Allied victory and shows how policymakers implemented a disposal strategy that facilitated postwar reconstruction. Canadians responded to the unprecedented divestment of public property by reusing and recycling military surpluses to improve their postwar lives.
War Junk recounts the complex political, economic, social, and environmental legacies of munitions disposal in Canada by revealing how the tools of war became integral to the making of postwar Canada.
Introduction: The Death and Life of War Machines
1 Preparing for Peace: Creating the Disposal Administration
2 Forms and Floods: Controlling Disposal Operations
3 Cleanup Crew: Disposal Logistics and Postwar Requirements
4 Assets to Ashes? Recouping Value from Depreciating Things
5 Resold and Reused: Surplus Assets and the Postwar Transition
6 Recycling and Reconstruction: Thrift, Hybridity, and Economic Recovery
Conclusion: The Legacies of Disposal
Alex Souchen is an assistant professor at the University of Guelph, cross-appointed between the Department of History and the Bachelor of Arts and Science Program. He is the author of War Junk: Munitions Disposal and Postwar Reconstruction in Canada, which won an honorable mention for the 2020–21 C.P. Stacey Award for the best book in the field of Canadian military history.
Matthew S. Wiseman is a lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Waterloo. He previously held a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at St. Jerome’s University and is the editor of The Selected Works of George R. Lindsey: Operational Research, Strategic Studies, and Canadian Defence in the Cold War.
War Junk makes an entirely fresh contribution to a growing body of scholarship on Canada and war in the twentieth century.
~Andrew Iarocci, Canadian Military History
Alex Souchen’s fine work speaks to the enormous economic, political, as well as environmental consequences of wartime disposal. The breadth of this work is truly impressive.
~Geoffrey Hayes, Department of History, University of Waterloo, University of Toronto Quarterly
C.P. Stacey Award