1968’s Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada is still making Americans pause for thought

The US is described as not being a welcoming place. The Manual helped many to make the decision to flee the United States. It’s a book of an age when America was in absolute turmoil. Applying for status is a suit and tie affair, even in 100-degree weather. Customs confiscated shipments destined for college bookstores. You must appear neat. There is guidance on completing the forms, and being interviewed by immigration officers, and advice on what to expect on arrival. The Manual went through several editions from 1968 until 1971. Loom fixers, dentists, paper makers, and librarians are just three of the many trades listed as being in demand in Canada. Find copies of Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada The Vietnam War ended in 1975. The FBI weren’t thrilled by the book. US newspapers condemned it. The Manual was its first bestseller. It was a major hit instantly and the next printing, two months later, featured 20,000 copies. Six books are recommended for describing Canada:
Morley Callaghan’s Stories
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz   by Mordecai Richler
The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen – yes that Leonard Cohen. The driving force behind the creation of the Manual was an American activist and draft dodger called Mark Satin. The Journal by Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau
Kingdom of Absence by Dennis Lee (scarce now)
The book was reissued in 1967 to commemorate 50 years of Anansi Press. Soundbites include:
“Although Canada is the second largest nation on Earth, it has never launched a war…”
“Discrimination against immigrants is strictly prohibited…”
“Get a good night’s sleep, bathe, shave, and get a haircut. They were giving up their friends and family and looking for a new life among strangers.   This was nothing new – Americans have been fleeing to Canada since the days of slavery when the Underground Railway helped escaped slaves to freedom north of the border. The people who came were highly educated, and the ones who stayed often went on to make major contributions to Canadian society. Why was a Manual even necessary? So why read the Manual today? Mark Satin went home and now lives in California. History always has lessons for us and there is a tendency to things to be cyclical. The book goes on to list of more books to read, a few friendly lawyers, and helpful organizations to contact in Canada and the United States. Estimates put sales of the Manual at 65,000 but the book was also widely pirated across anti-war groups. It’s a valuable piece of social history. Its military suffered heavy losses in Vietnam during 1968 and student protests spread across many US universities as it became clear that there was no end in sight to the war. Jimmy Carter pardoned draft exiles in 1977. The first edition was a rough affair with just 5,000 copies printed. “There’s no restriction on the admission of cats into Canada. Fifty years ago, one of bestselling books in the United States was the Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Once in Canada, there was really no way back for these draft dodgers in the late 1960s. “The Communist Party is legal in Canada but doddering…
“There is indeed very little intellectual life among adults in Vancouver. Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada was published by Canadian publisher House of Anansi Press. It was he who persuaded House of Anansi to publish the book and it was him to relentlessly lobbied the Canadian media on behalf of incoming draft dodgers. Today’s it’s still going strong with a bank of superb authors on its books. Immigration is again a key issue in North America. A drab but important book for draft dodgers
The book is a practical guide with information on the immigration process, and key aspects of Canadian society, such as history, politics, culture, the provinces, weather, work, housing, and education. It appeared to be complete chaos. It wasn’t easy. Canada did very well out of the draft dodging. Satin wrote part of the Manual himself and found Canadian academics and activists to help. Returning meant being arrested if they had already been drafted and the Manual makes this very clear. Well, international travel was nowhere near as common as it is today. Draft dodgers started arriving in Canada in 1965. U.S. House of Anansi had started out in 1967 and initially operated out of a basement of a rental house. Canada might look similar to the US but its social infrastructure is completely different – it’s bilingual, there’s a Queen in the mix, has a very different set of laws, huge tracts of wilderness and is brutally cold in most places. Mark Satin wrote an afterword for the edition where he reveals it was a miracle that the book got published at all because of the internal politics that racked the anti-war groups such as the Toronto Anti-Draft Program. This book served as an introduction to Canada for Americans who wished to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War by dodging the draft. It had a plain cover featuring one red maple leaf and became one of the key accessories of the American anti-war movement. He was committed to helping Americans escape to Canada and became the first director of the Toronto Anti-Draft Program.

1968’s Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada is still making Americans pause for thought