Canadian Nationalism: United North America, Part 2
I recently made a post asking readers to share their opinion on Canada, within the framework of ‘Being Canadian mean not being American’. So far the responses have been excellent, and I want to thank everyone for the time and effort in making their comments. I recommend checking out the comments, and feel free to leave your own, I’d love to read what you have to say on the topic.
Without meaning to minimize the contributions, I think I can sum-up the entries by saying that the general consensus is that Canadians do define themselves to a large extent as not being American. As fellow Canadian, Paulmct from Bloggin’ Off, points out, much of this attitude stems from the Loyalists moving to the future Canadian territories after the American revolution, to avoid further persecution. This is a fair point, and I’ve written a little about it one of my early posts at Canadian Fermentation called United North America: Part 1.
Somehow, I had forgotten to write a Part 2. Typical.
In Part 1 I talk about the organization, United North America (see link in side bar). Basically this is a fringe organization which seeks to ‘repatriate’ Canada into the American fold. Now, personally, I’m all for dismantling borders while creating a greater sense of community between all peoples of the world, but I can’t support the idea that Canada should return to America, as if Canada is a sub-species of that country.
Daranee from The Implied Observer, a Seattlite, made this comment, “You are right that to a certain extent Canada is defined by what makes it different than America – at least to Americans, because that is what we will notice. I think of Canada as a quirky alternate universe to America”
Americans do see Canada as (thank you Homer Simpson) ‘America Junior’. Personally I don’t take offense to this, our cultures are very similar. Yet, at the same time, this also minimizes Canada’s contribution to the North American culture as it exists. I believe that for a country with a relatively low population that Canada has, we have contributed a great deal to North American culture.
I recently purchased the book, Why I Hate Canadians, by Will Ferguson. Ferguson is the same authour who wrote Canadian History for Dummies. The book is a collection of essays Ferguson wrote when he returned to Canada fafter living in Japan for five years. Although Ferguson has no problems explaining what he doesn’t like about Canada and Canadians, the title is mostly ironic, and Ferguson is a patriot of his country, and, I think, proudly so.
The chapter titled Loyalists and Other Losers discusses the American Revolution and how the aftermath of that war affected Canada. He takes a very scathing look at the Patriots, and makes some interesting points that the Loyalists were just as Loyal to the idea of freedom as the Patriots were, but they didn’t agree with the Patriot concept of freedom.
The Loyalists were the minority, and included minority groups, as well as farmers and craftsmen–basically normal people and not the aristocrats who are commonly associated with Loyalists– who didn’t see a good reason to violently rise up against one oppressor and replace it with another. When the war was over repercussions were severe. The Loyalists had no choice but to look for somewhere else to live. Many of them moved north to the territories that would eventually become Canada.
Canada is the land of second chances. We are people who have avoided conflict as much as possible and although we may be slow to change, we are in constant, resolute movement towards change. Canadians just like to do things in their own time and prefer not to make a big fuss about it. We search for consensus and try to please everyone – which Americans would say is a silly way to run a country, but it has worked, and it has worked well enough for long enough.
What Ferguson’s essay made clear to me is that the folks at United North American are wrong. They promote the theory that Canadians are Americans separated by a border because most of early Canadian settlement was by Loyalists from American territories. I found it hard to argue with this logic.
Now, though, I would argue that Canadians are actually the true inheritors of European settlement while Americans are the mutated offspring of violent revolution. Canada has developed naturally whereas American evolution was forced. Revolutionists are the insolent offspring from the true North Americans, and not the other way around.
For a long time I’ve been sitting on the fence, mulling over their proposition and have come to the conclusion that it is misguided and wrong. If anything, America should come back into the Canadian fold. Canada is the true inheritor of the North American, European legacy. As Ferguson states, “Americans are just Canadians in a hurry”.
Ferguson reasonably sums up major differences between American and Canadian philosophies, “As the heirs of the Loyalists, we are a society not founded on ideology, noble or otherwise, but on principles of fair play and on the notion that whatever the issue and whatever the problem, taking up arms should be the last resort, not the first. These two world views–one ideological and the other pragmatic, one American and the other Canadian–exist today as opposing sides of a border that is as subtle and profound as these distinctions.”
I think this is a fair place to begin as well as end.
Entry filed under: canadian, Canadian/American relations, culture, discussion, history, nationalism, opinion, politics. Tags: american revolution, Canada, canadian, canadian american relations, canadian issues, culture, history, internations relations, loyalists, nationalism, north america, opinion, thoughts, united north america, will ferguson.