The Whisky War

The content below is from Episode 119 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you watch an FX show on Hulu called The Bear.
    • This show is so damn captivating and feels so genuine that I consider it one of the best drama series I have seen in quite some time.
    • Starring Jeremy Allen White (Lip from Shameless) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (Desi from Girls) this show takes a well written comedy drama and puts it into one of the most accurate portrayals of restaurant life I have seen.
    • To shine a light on the premise without giving too much away… because the show reveals things at EXACTLY the right time… Carmy is one of the world’s greatest young chefs, but he is now stuck running his family’s dinky little sandwich shop in a rough neighborhood in Chicago. His efforts to turn the shop into a respectable restaurant clash against the old traditions and people from his past. It is prime Television.
    • Watch it on Hulu


  • We’ve talked about WW2 in Episode #15 Corporal Wojtek, Episode #69 The Ice Craft Carrier, and Episode #54 Silent Winged Flying Coffins.
    • We’ve talked about Vietnam with Episode #52 Helmet Graffiti of the Vietnam War and Episode #82 Operation Wandering Souls…
    • And I’ve talked about all sorts of wars throughout the 118 previous episodes and over 30 hours of podcast content… But I’ve never talked about the Whiskey Wars.
  • The fighting began in 1973 and just ended this year 2022. And thank goodness this conflict has ended after nearly 50 years! Two blood-thirsty countries, Canada and Denmark, set out to make their claim on land they thought was rightfully theirs!
    • JK. It isn’t that kind of a war. The Whisky Wars between Canada and Denmark were so tame that no one died… no one even got hurt… I don’t even think feelings were hurt throughout this entire war and if they were… the Canadians would certainly apologize for it.
    • This is about a peaceful land dispute that was handled with gentlemanly pranks and trade of a very specific good.
  • Hans Island is in the middle of the Kennedy Channel between Greenland and Ellesmere Island it is barren and uninhabited. It has a maximum elevation of 168.17 metres (551.7 ft) and has likely been part of Inuit hunting grounds since the 14th century
  • A theoretical line in the middle of the Kennedy Channel strait goes through the island. Canada and Denmark could not come to terms on Hans Island in 1973 when a border treaty was signed, leaving a gap in its border description. While they negotiated, competing claims emerged over the tiny island.
    • The war began after the countries convened to settle boundary disputes in the Nares Strait, a channel 35km (22 miles) wide of cold water separating Canada and Greenland, an autonomous territory of Denmark.
    • Both Canada and Greenland sit 18km away from Hans Island, allowing them to claim the rock under international law, and in the end they decided to settle the dispute at a later date.
      • Basically they both just procrastinated the issue for almost half a century LOL
    • Successive expeditions from Ottawa and Copenhagen have braved icy conditions to plant bottles of alcohol on the tiny 1.2sq km (0.75sq-mile) rock.
  • But in 1984, Canada made a bold stake for ownership when it landed troops on the rock. In 1984, Canadian soldiers “provoked” Denmark by planting its flag on the island and leaving a bottle of Canadian whisky.
    • With the Maple Leaf flag waving in the arctic wind and their delicious bottle of whisky secured, these Canadian troops went back home to a country that could claim was now 0.75 square miles larger!
    • The Danish Minister of Greenland Affairs came to the island himself the same year with the Danish flag, a bottle of Cognac (some sources say it was a bottle of fine Copenhagen Schnapps), and a letter stating “Welcome to the Danish Island” (Velkommen til den danske ø). The two countries proceeded to take turns planting their flags on the island and exchanging alcoholic beverages. The flags were folded properly and respectfully. There have also been Google ads used to “promote their claims”. Despite the seriousness, it has all been done in a friendly manner.
    • The Danish Minister’s visit in 1984 officially set off this War… which is more like a prank war lol
  • Many Canadians and Danes have taken part in this wonderful act of diplomacy over the decades.
    • They now describe the island as a sea of slightly tattered flags and notices.
  • Both countries agreed on a process in 2005 to resolve the issue,[9] which was finally settled in 2022.[10]
    • Now officials have agreed to divide the outpost roughly in half along a natural cleft in the rock of the island.
    • The moment this deal was signed, Canada and Denmark had established the world’s longest maritime border at 3,882km.
  • This minor border dispute is often considered humorous between the two nations, with residents displaying their humour. Despite the serious official nature of the matter, the manner in which the conflict was prosecuted was light-hearted, demonstrated by the length of time taken to settle the dispute, if nothing else. Both nations are on friendly terms, and are also founding members of NATO. Virtually no significant change aside from total land area of the two nations has been made.
  • Honestly, I’m sad. This is one war I would have been happy to continue indefinitely.


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