The Great Dominion


Winston Churchill’s connection with "the Great Dominion", as he liked to call it, spanned more than half a century. At Winnipeg he heard the news of Queen Victoria’s death. In Vancouver he caught a fine salmon. Near Banff he painted several pictures; at Halifax, he led a large crowd in singing on the quayside. At Niagara Falls in 1929 he regretted that he had not tried to buy a concession there in 1900; and when he took his daughter to Niagara in 1943, on their way to Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park, he rejoined, when asked whether he noticed any differences since his first visit, "The principle seems to be much the same; the water still falls over." At Toronto he acknowledged in 1932 his emancipation from the doctrines of free trade. At Ottawa in the dark days of 1941 he proclaimed his confidence in victory, and in 1952 had to concede that the result of victory had been far less satisfying than he had wished. At Quebec in 1943, and again in 1944, he met with Roosevelt and the two countries’ Chiefs of Staff in the high strategy of the war.

Of no other Commonwealth country did Churchill have such a lifelong knowledge, but even those acquainted with Churchill’s career are sometimes surprised to find that he travelled to Canada so often, and many works about him treat the fact as a mere appendix to his connections with the United States.

British historian David Dilks hopes The Great Dominion will prove that there was more to his time in Canada than that. He has selected excerpts from newspapers, speeches, letters, and diaries, to bring to life every one of those visits, giving preference wherever possible to Churchill’s own voice – and what a voice it was. This book is for anyone interested in Canada’s history or fascinated by the phenomenon that was Winston Churchill.

Reviews interesting book, and essential reading, I would think, for any Churchillphiles in Canada.

The Canadian Historical Review

The Great Dominion: Winston Churchill in Canada 1900-1954, by David Dilks, enlarges our understanding of the great man and, in particular, outlines his unwaveringly positive attitude to this country.

The Canadian Jewish News

Dilks has gathered an impressive collection of primary documents illustrating the relationship between Canada and Churchill...His goal, as he writes in the introduction, is to let Churchill fulfill 'a role for which he was uniquely qualified: to speak for himself.' He succeeds admirably.

International Journal

The Great Dominion is a fascinating read, especially rewarding for those interested in Churchill, Canada in the first half of the twentieth century, and the Second World War...

The International History Review

Dilks recreates each of Churchill's visits to Canada, giving the reader a unique glimpse into Winston's views of world events...David Dilk's contribution to the historical record of the first half of the twentieth century is a vigorous reminder that, at one time, being a politician was regarded as an honourable calling, and that the Great Dominion could be counted on to be a gracious host to many of them.

Canada Post

This is a grand and handsome book, a superb companion to modern histories of Canada and the UK as seen through Churchill's eyes and those who saw Churchill in Canada.

Finest Hour

[The Great Dominion] is a thorough, careful chronicle of Churchill and his relationship with Canada...It is rich in research, relaxed in pacing and unique in concept...Woven together with [the author's] elegant commentary and explanatory footnotes, it gives us our first full-dress portrait of Winston Churchill in Canada.

The Globe and Mail

Anyone interested in Canadian diplomatic history or the history of the North Atlantic Alliance will want to read this lucidly written study.

Winnipeg Free Press

The Great Dominion, devoted purely to Churchill's nine visits to Canada over half a century, is a genuine surprise.

The Montreal Gazette

[an] important and most fascinating book.

The Edmonton Journal

In the span of 50 years covered by Dilks's study, Canadians can see the evolution of their country, and of the perception of their country, from that of dependency to one of independence.

Literary Review of Canada

This new look at Churchill is a fascinating one, and the book is well worth reading, first at one go and then in appreciation of his growing awareness of the part Canada played in the world.


Dilks's documentary collection reminds us of an era, now gone, when being a politician was regarded as an honourable calling and the British connection defined what it was to be a Canadian.

National Post

This is a superb summary and a compulsory book for anyone interested in Canadian history.

Books in Canada

About the Author

David Dilks

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

David Dilks

David Dilks is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the University of Leeds. He is a leading historian and scholar of International Relations and previously held a Visiting Fellowship at All Souls College, Oxford and was Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hull. His publications include The Great Dominion: Churchill in Canada 1900-1954.