Canada The First Stop For Many Presidents

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
By going to Canada for his first foreign trip today, President Barack Obama is showing the importance he places on the relationship with America's neighbor to the north.

In fact, Canada has been the first or second foreign destination of every U.S. President since Ronald Reagan.

But that wasn't always the case.

Here's a look at the first trips abroad by Presidents dating back to Theodore Roosevelt - the first sitting U.S. President to leave the country.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT: He left the country only once as President. In 1909, he made a four-day visit to Panama to inspect construction of the canal.

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT: He, too, made only one visit outside the country while in office. It was a daytrip to Mexico in October 1909. Earlier that year, as President-elect, he spent a week in Panama.

WOODROW WILSON: After World War I, he made five visits to France. He also travelled to Italy, Belgium and Britain. He never set foot in Canada or Mexico.

WARREN G. HARDING: He made only one trip abroad during his 2 ½ years in office. It was a brief stop in Canada (Vancouver) on his way back from a visit to Alaska.

CALVIN COOLIDGE: He left the country only once, in 1928, to visit Cuba for the Sixth International Conference of American States.

HERBERT HOOVER: He never left the country as President, though he visited 10 Central and South American nations as President-elect in 1928.

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: His first trip abroad came four months into his presidency, when he travelled to Canada. But it was a vacation on Campobello Island. His first official visit to Canada came in 1936 - his third year in office.

HARRY TRUMAN: Didn't leave the country until after World War II: visiting Belgium, Germany and Britain in 1945. He made separate visits to Mexico and Canada in 1947.

DWIGHT EISENHOWER: His first trips abroad in office were to Mexico in October 1953 and a month later to Canada – a State Visit during which he addressed a Joint Session of Parliament. He would visit Canada two more times before leaving office.

JOHN F. KENNEDY: Canada was his first foreign destination in May of 1961. He too, addressed Parliament.

LYNDON JOHNSON: He waited nearly ten months after taking office to leave the country. Like his predecessor, his first stop was Canada. It was a daytrip to Vancouver for a ceremony marking the Columbia River Treaty.

RICHARD NIXON: He travelled abroad extensively during his 5 ½ years as President visiting 30 countries – several more than once. He made a single visit to Canada during his fourth year in office in 1972.

GERALD FORD: During 29 months as President, he visited 17 countries – but Canada was not one of them. His first foreign trip was to Mexico – 43 days after taking office.

JIMMY CARTER: Visited Europe, Asia, Africa, Central and South America – but never set foot in Canada as President. He did visit Mexico once in 1979.

RONALD REAGAN: He visited Mexico 15 days before taking office, and his first trip abroad as President was to Canada in March of 1981.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Canada was his fist foreign stop as President – a daytrip –20 days after his Inauguration. He made a State Visit to Mexico in 1990.

BILL CLINTON: During eight years in office he made 55 foreign trips to 72 nations, some more than once. His first foreign trip was to Canada in April of 1993 – but the principal purpose of that visit was his first summit with Russian Pres. Boris Yeltsin. Mr. Clinton did meet with Canada's Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as well.

GEORGE W. BUSH: He made 49 foreign trips to 75 nations including four visits to Iraq. His first foreign outing as President was to Mexico – a daytrip in February 2001. His second time outside the U.S. was to Canada - which was hosting the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

President Obama has much more foreign travel planned for this year – mostly for international summits including the G-20 and the Summit of the Americas in April; the G-8 in July and APEC – the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum – in November.

Mr. Obama hosts his first foreign leader in the U.S. next Tuesday, when Prime Minister Taro Aso of Japan visits the White House.

Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.