Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | November 8, 2017

German Plan to Invade Canada, World War II.

German Plan to Invade Canada, World War I.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, and the British Empire marched off to war, it was by no means certain that the United States would go to battle against Germany, given their isolationist politics and the large number of German immigrants living in America.

Even before the war had begun, Imperial German military officials planned to take advantage of the many narrow river crossings between the U.S. and Canada.  The crossing at Cornwall and the proximity to Ottawa and Canada’s largest city Montreal made the Eastern Ontario section of the St. Lawrence River, with its canals, railways and railway bridges, particularly vulnerable.

scan0049Mounted Militia guarding the Ottawa and New York Central Railway Bridge at Cornwall, World War I.

A plot to invade through the U.S. was concocted by Captain von Papen, Military Attache to the German Embassy in Washington D.C.  The scheme was to be put into motion by one Max L. Louden, who assumed the alias Count von Loudow, in the guise of an officer in the Prussian Guard.  At the time, German reservists in the U.S. numbered 150,000 men.

Count von Loudow travelled to Ottawa to obtain military maps of hte St. Lawrence Frontier from the Canadian Dept. of Militia and Defense, and then took them back to Washington.

The maps were distributed to various patriotic German-American organizations acting as fronts for the German Army.  Fuelled by a budget if $16 million, rifles and ammunition had been secured and sequestered in the numerous German-run breweries near the Canadian border.  Once war was declared, “it had been arranged to send (Reservists), from large cities following the announcements of feats and conventions.”

Reservists were to assemble at strategic border points and cross over the International Boundary in rented charter boats and attack the Welland Canal near Niagara, Windmill Point near Prescott, and Cornwall from across the St. Lawrence River.  Von Louden was to lead the invasion at Cornwall, cutting telegraph, telephone and railway lines leading to Ottawa.  This would undermine the Canadian militia’s ability to issue general mobilization orders.

scan0051Squadron “D” 4th Hussars, at Mille Roches.  They patrolled the Cornwall Canal and St. Lawrence River from Prescott to Cornwall from the outbreak of the war in 1914.

However, the scheme was uncovered, not by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as might be expected, since the St. Lawrence was their beat.  The invasion was foiled by officials of the American Dept. of Justice, who were striving to maintain their country’s neutrality.  The arrested von Louden on charges of bigamy in Buffalo at the start of the war.

More about the history of the St. Lawrence River can be found in THE LIVING RIVER – SECRETS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE, from Montreal to Cornwall to Prescott.

Illustrated with more than 150 historic images the book examines river traffic, the Long Sault Rapids, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Ontario Hydro Project, the Lost Villages, Smuggling, military history and much more.

Available at the Cornwall Community Museum $30.

At this time, the Museum is open Wed. to Sun. 11 am to 4 pm.

Info.;  613 936-0280

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In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

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