The Alert Citizens

Fear of the Foreign

The Alert Service was a Canadian group which created and distributed pamphlets warning citizens about communist activities. The group’s leader, Marjorie Lamb, conducted meticulous research while compiling an issue of The Alert Service. This newspaper clipping is from Lamb’s extensive collection of research materials. It demonstrates how the Cold War was fought on ideological level and how this ideological war affected migration practices.

Fighting an Ideology

The Cold War was considered “cold” because it was not fought through direct warfare or combat. Instead, the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union from 1947-1991 was fought mainly through propaganda.[1] To fight Communist propaganda, anti-communists retaliated with their own forms of propaganda. This was distributed through different channels and media outlets like radio, newspapers, and newsletters like The Alert Service.

Lamb’s Research

To identify communist activities for an issue of The Alert Service’s newsletter, Lamb investigated newspaper sources. She was fighting against an ideological system which often spread through propaganda; consequently, as a part of her research, Lamb looked to media sources to identify any type of communist activities or sympathizers.

This newspaper article has notes and markings made in pen by Marjorie Lamb. “A Russian’s View of Labrador” by Walter Gray from The Globe and Mail, Marjorie Lamb Fonds, John M Kelly Special Collections, University of Toronto.

A Russian’s View of Labrador

In this news article, A Russian’s View of Labrador, reporter Walter Gray comments on Russian scientist G. A. Agranat’s recently published reports on Labrador. Agranats work had been translated and published in a book called, “Problems of the North,” compiled by the National Research Council in Ottawa as the first in a series of translated Soviet scientific papers. Walter Gray quotes Agranat’s work in this article, which is portrayed as being critical of capitalism and economic development in Labrador. Therefore, Lamb identified Agranat as a potential communist sympathizer and cut this article out from the February 27, 1961 issue of the Globe and Mail and underlined Agranat’s name in pen. This clipping would form a part of her extensive research records for The Alert Service.

Effects on Migration

The fact that this Cold War was fought on an ideological level led to an emphasis on ideological policing, and the policing of the everyday, as evinced through Marjorie Lambs research process and clippings. Because of the ideological nature of communism, communist sympathizers could not be identified through obvious factors, therefore potential immigrants were screened for communist sentiments. Immigrants from countries known to have communist affiliations or immigrants who had relatives living in a country under communist rule could be barred from entry.[2] Some Canadian immigrants asserted their political reliability by donating to anti-communist efforts such as The Alert Service, as in the case of a the women’s club known as The United Women. These women were Eastern European immigrants, who wanted to prove their loyalty to Canada by engaging in anti-communist activities.[3] The ideological policing of communism, as revealed by the Marjorie Lamb research and news clippings, influenced Canada’s postwar immigration policy by spurring harsher immigration screening practices which made it harder to immigrate to Canada.[4] When the ban on immigration from certain countries was lifted, Canada became the multicultural society it is today.[5]


Sydney Rose is a Masters of Museum Studies candidate from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. She has a BA in Classical Civilizations from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Sydney is an avid traveler and intends to pursue research on the preservation of heritage during armed conflict.

[1] Lilleker 2004, p. 21.

[2] Cavell 2004, p. 45.

[3] Brookfield 2012, section 6.

[4] Iacovetta 2006, ch. 1.

[5] Rahim 2014, p. 35.

“Immigrants from countries known to have communist affiliations or immigrants who had relatives living in a country under communist rule could be barred.”