Canadian Americans

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Date: 2014
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Canadian Americans

Marianne P. Fedunkiw


Canadian Americans are immigrants or descendants of people from Canada, a country in North America that lies to the north of the United States. Canada is surrounded on three sides by oceans: the Pacific to the west, the Arctic to the north, and the Atlantic to the east. It is the largest country in the Western Hemisphere, covering 3,849,674 square miles (9,970,610 square kilometers), including both land and freshwater areas. This is about the size of the United States plus another Montana. Its southern border with the United States, which stretches 5,525 miles (8,892 kilometers), is the longest undefended border in the world.

According to an estimate in the CIA World Factbook, the population of Canada was 34,300,083 in 2012. Despite Canada's large area, most of the country is frigid, uninhabited wilderness, and much of the population lives within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the U.S. border. Approximately 60 percent of Canadians lived in urban centers, particularly in the southeastern region between Windsor, Ontario, and Quebec City, Quebec. The largest cities are Toronto, with a population of 5.7 million (about 2.5 million less than New York City), followed by Montreal, with 3.75 million (about the same as Los Angeles), and Vancouver, with 2.1 million (about the same as Chicago). More than 42 percent of Canadians are Roman Catholic, just over 27 percent are Protestant or other Christian faith, and the remainder are Muslim, unspecified, or claim no religious affiliation. Since World War II, Canada has transformed itself from a rural economy to an urban one. The economy of Canada is similar to that of the United States; it is based on high-tech jobs, manufacturing, mining, and service-sector jobs.

Although there has always been a flow of people between Canada and the United States, reliable migration data has only been kept since the 1910 U.S. Census. Migration is also somewhat seasonal: the Canadian population in the United States swells in the winter months, when many so-called snowbirds retreat from the harsh Canadian winter to the warmer climate of the Southern United States.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 704,562 people of Canadian descent living full-time in the United States—fewer people than the total population of the state of Alaska. Canadians spending the winter months in the United States tend to settle in Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Southern California.


Early History The first European explorers to visit North America are thought to be the Vikings in around 1000 CE. Some believe that there were earlier visitors to Canada, including Celtic monks fleeing the Viking invasions of the British Isles and perhaps even voyagers from Africa. Such visitors would have found a harsh, cold land occupied by often hostile native peoples. As a result, few early explorers survived or stayed long in Canada.

By the early 1500s, parts of North America were being claimed for various European thrones. Many French explorers traveled to Canada seeking a northern route to the Far East. By the 1670s the burgeoning fur trade led to the founding of the Hudson Bay Company, which is still in operation today. Settlement was not easy in the seventeenth century. By 1663 there were only twenty-five hundred French settlers, most of whom were clustered around Montreal, Quebec City, and Trois Rivières (Three Rivers), the latter being about halfway between the former two. Vicious battles took place between the French settlers and the native Iroquois, and many of the European colonies were all but destroyed. In fact, relationships with indigenous peoples often determined the pace of settlement. Jesuit missionaries, who were sent to the new land to help colonize and convert the natives to Christianity, met with considerable opposition, for example, and in many cases missions were destroyed and missionaries killed.

By 1713 the population of New France, as the Canadian colony was called, numbered fewer than twenty thousand, compared with some four hundred thousand English, Scots, and Irish settlers in the Atlantic coastal areas. The French and English began fighting over the Canadian lands, particularly the valuable beaver country around Hudson and James Bays, as well as over regions of what is today the Northeastern United States.

The French lost the Seven Years' War (also known as the French and Indian War) to the British. On February 10, 1763, France signed the Treaty of Page 396  |  Top of ArticleParis, giving Britain control over all of North America except for the Louisiana Territory, which France ceded to Spain. All that was left for France were the small islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the southern coast of Newfoundland, which are still French possessions today.

Many early ties linked the areas that would become Canadian territory with those that, after 1776, would become American states. At its zenith, British Canada included not only present-day Canadian territory but also the American states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. In fact, after the British conquest of New France, the “Canadian” colonies had to decide whether they wished to join the Thirteen Colonies in the latters' bid for independence or remain within the British Empire. Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec opted relatively quickly to remain with Britain, while Nova Scotia deliberated longer—probably because in 1776, almost two-thirds of Nova Scotia's population consisted of New England immigrants with strong ties to the American colonies. In the end, however, Nova Scotia decided to stay with Great Britain, too, rather than become the fourteenth state of the Union. American invaders did try to take part of Canada from the British in December 1775, when forces led by Benedict Arnold and Richard Montgomery unsuccessfully attacked Quebec. Furthermore, those Americans who supported British rule—the United Empire Loyalists—found refuge in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces in the later eighteenth century.

The new British rule and pressure from the revolutionaries in the Thirteen Colonies did not make for a harmonious meld of lands and peoples in Canada. Concessions were made, however, to keep Quebec in the British Empire. The Quebec Act of 1774 returned to the French Canadians their civil law based on the Napoleonic Code (still applicable today) and the freedom to practice the Roman Catholic religion. To further accommodate both French and British interests, the Constitutional Act of 1791 allowed for two separate elective legislative assemblies within the distinct provinces of Upper Canada (the largely British area to the west of the Ottawa River) and Lower Canada (present-day Quebec).

Tension between the French and English was not confined to the east, however. When the Canadian government acquired western lands from the Hudson Bay Company in 1869, Louis Riel led a group of Métis settlers in protest. The Métis, who were part European and part Native American (called mestizos in Spanish America), feared that the encroachment of other settlers would mean the loss of their freedom and identity.

In addition to the Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, American farmers began entering Canada in search of cheaper land. By 1812 about 60 percent of the population of Upper Canada comprised non-Loyalist colonists from the United States. Loyalists and British made up the remaining 40 percent in about even proportions.

The most significant relationship with Americans in the early nineteenth century, however, was one of war. Many Americans believed that the British were supporting Indian attacks on the United States, while other Americans, such as the expansionist “war hawks,” favored going to war to seize Upper Canada for the United States. Americans also resented Britain's imposition of a naval blockade on France, which hampered American trade with France, and Britain's seizure of thousands of British sailors on American ships, whom the British deemed deserters. As a result of these mounting tensions, American president James Madison declared war on Britain on June 1, 1812.

The War of 1812 went poorly for the Americans because they mistakenly concentrated their initial efforts on taking the eastern part of Upper Canada, including the Detroit and Niagara Rivers. The Americans believed they would be welcomed by their compatriots who had moved to Canada, but they were wrong. The Americans lost not only Detroit, but all of the American territory west of Lake Erie to General Isaac Brock's troops and his ally, the famed Shawnee chief Tecumseh. The battles of the War of 1812 continued well into 1814, with both sides making advances, but victory was on the side of the British more often. In fact, in August 1814, the British advanced as far south as Washington, D.C., burning down the Capitol and President's House in the process.

In the end, the war changed little in terms of boundaries or national possessions. But ideologically, the war fostered anti-American sentiments and corresponding loyalty to the colony itself—making the settlers view themselves as neither Loyalists nor British but Upper Canadians.

The 1830s was a decade of discontent in both Lower and Upper Canada, which culminated in the rebellions of 1837. Although relatively few people participated in the actual uprisings, the conflicts set the stage for changes in government that led to confederation in 1867. On July 1, 1867, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Lower and Upper Canada joined together to form the Dominion of Canada.

Another major development in the relationship between Canada and the United States that helped propel Canada to independence centered around the American Civil War. Canada quickly opposed the war, particularly the thought of the South's winning (although many Americans believed that the British supported the South, which supplied Britain's cotton and tobacco), and hostilities between the two countries grew. The situation grew worse when many American slaves fled to freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad and when the so-called Fenian Brotherhood—anti-British Irish Americans—attacked the Canadian village of Fort Erie in southern Ontario Page 397  |  Top of Articlein the summer of 1866. The fear of annexation by the United States eventually led Canadians to forge the British North America Act in 1867, which established the Dominion of Canada. The first prime minister of Canada was Sir John A. Macdonald.

Although the western prairies and outlying parts of Ontario and Quebec—then a huge area called Rupert's Land—were not part of the confederation, the same fear of an American takeover of these lands led to an expansion of the railroad to the west, followed by an influx of settlers westward. Manitoba joined Canada as a province in 1870, followed by British Columbia in 1871, the Yukon Territory in 1898, and Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories in 1905.

As for the remaining provinces, Prince Edward Island joined in 1873, and Newfoundland, the last, joined in 1949 as the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This reluctance to officially become part of Canada perhaps explains why many Newfoundlanders who have moved to the United States identify themselves not as Canadian Americans but as “Americans of Newfoundland descent.” Finally, in 1999, the eastern half of the Northwest Territories became the new Territory of Nunavut.

Modern Era The twentieth century saw continued tension between French speakers and English speakers in Canada. English-speaking Canada felt strong ties to Britain—it fought on the side of Britain in the South African Boer War (1899–1902), World War I, and World War II. The French-speaking Canadians, however, resented fighting in what they considered to be English wars, and the issue of compulsory military service drove the two groups further apart.

Meanwhile, European and Asian immigrants flowed into Canada. Much of the still-open Canadian West was built up by these new Canadians. The period between the two world wars brought a greater sense of national autonomy. By 1939 English Canadians made up only half of the population of twelve million. Another 30 percent were French, and the rest consisted of Ukrainian, Polish, German, and Scandinavian immigrants. When the Second World War began, Canada made its own decision to take part, going to battle on September 10, 1939.

The years following World War II were ones of prosperity in Canada, particularly compared with those preceding the war, which saw hardship throughout the country. The 1950s and 1960s saw decreasing trade with Britain and increasing trade with the United States. Canada also achieved greater respect internationally. Lester B. Pearson, Canadian prime minister from 1963 to 1968, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his work in the Middle East. Pearson also served as chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1951–1952 and as president of the United Nations General Assembly in 1952–1953.


Following the British victory in the French and Indian War, the British obtained the province of Canada under the terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, thus controlling Canada and the American Colonies. From 1763 until the American Revolution, people moved freely between the two British possessions. Following the American Revolution, some British Loyalists chose to leave the new United States and take up residence in Canada to remain under British rule, and many were granted land in Canada to replace property lost in the revolution. Relatively few Canadians immigrated to the United States in the early years of the new American republic. The eastern end of the border between Canada and the United States was set by the treaty ending the Revolutionary War in 1783 (also called the Treaty of Paris). The western portion of the boundary was settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, negotiated between the two nations in 1842. The number of Canadians moving to the United States has climbed steadily since the 1850s. According to the 1990 report Migration between the United States and Canada, migration between the two countries was relatively unrestricted until immigration laws were

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Can't you see the freedom in America? That it's not just political? Can't you see American liberty? Can't you see self-reliance and self-expression? That is the American atmosphere. … In America you can do anything you want, live anywhere you want, and, finally, do what it is that you most want to do very easily—perhaps not without what you might consider to be sacrifices, but they're not really sacrifices.

Agnes Martin in 1931, cited in American Mosaic: The Immigrant Experience in the Words of Those Who Lived It, edited by Joan Morrison and Charlotte Fox Zabusky (New York: Dutton, 1980).

changed in the United States in 1965 and in Canada in 1976. In the early part of the twentieth century, for example, more than 1.2 million Canadians crossed the border to live in the United States. Interestingly, this was four times the number that moved from the United States to Canada. The decade of the 1920s saw the largest exodus yet, with nearly a million Canadians heading south, primarily to take advantage of the industrial boom in the northeastern and north central states. The number of Canadians in the United States peaked at 1.3 million in 1930, after which the Great Depression and World War II slowed emigration. The flow picked up markedly in the 1950s and early 1960s, however, because of greater job opportunities and higher wages in the United States. From the 1930s to the 1980s, more than 2.3 million Canadians immigrated to the United States, but after changed U.S. immigration laws in the 1960s restricted the flow, the number of Canadian immigrants per year dropped by almost 60 percent.

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CENGAGE LEARNING, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED U.S. Census Bureau, 2009–2011 American Community Survey

This decline continued through the 1980s and had a marked effect on U.S. immigration statistics. While in the early 1960s Canadians made up almost 12 percent of total immigrants in the United States, by the early 1980s that number had fallen to just 2 percent. In fact, almost 65 percent of the immigrants listed in the 1980 U.S. census had immigrated before 1960.

During periods when immigration laws were less restrictive, crossing the border from Canada was less an international migration than a movement based on economic influences—just like internal migration. When the laws tightened, the patterns became more controlled and more typical of long-distance international migration, according to Migration between the United States and Canada. Demographically, most Canadians who immigrated to the United States before 1960 lived in the northern states, while those who came later tended to live in states farther south. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Canadian immigrants tend to live in warmer locations such as Florida, California, and Arizona.


Canada has two official languages, English and French. These two languages are the mother tongue for nearly 84 percent of Canadians, with 60 percent speaking primarily English and almost 24 percent French. Among other languages used by the rest of the population are Italian, Chinese, German, Portuguese, Polish, and Ukrainian.

For the majority of Canadians who either speak English solely or another language as well as English, moving to the United States is made easier by the common language. Immigration is often more difficult for Francophones, or French-speaking Canadians, who are classified in Canada as a separate group. Other Canadians who are considered separate groups include Acadians and a number of native groups, among them the Iroquois, Tlingit, and Inuit.

Some Canadians who speak French or another non-English language might continue speaking it after immigrating to the United States, and for some Canadians ancestry is as important as nationality in forming their identity. For example, Canadian immigrants with German ancestry might identify themselves as German Americans rather than the more accurate designation German Canadian Americans.


Religion has been a fundamental of Canadian society since the French and British explorers arrived in the sixteenth century. The first Roman Catholic Mass in Canada was held in 1534, and the first Anglican service took place forty-four years later. The most active churches in Canada, according to recent figures, are the Roman Catholic and Anglican, although there is also strong representation by the United Church of Page 399  |  Top of ArticleCanada, Judaism, Islam, Evangelical Lutheranism, and various Pentecostal faiths. Protestant Canadians who immigrate to the United States encounter certain differences in the names of their denominations; for example, Canadian Anglicans would most closely resemble American Episcopalians. Due to the similarities in religion in the United States and Canada, there are few issues for immigrants concerning religion. Most immigrants simply carry on their religious traditions in what could be referred to as sister churches in the United States.


Unlike most other immigrant groups, there is almost no language barrier separating English-speaking Canadians and Americans. This is one reason why assimilation is relatively easy. Another factor is that the two countries are close neighbors, so many traditions and customs have crossed boundaries and become familiar to both. Migration between the United States and Canada states that “the ease with which Canadian and United States immigrants are assimilated is evident from the large population of naturalized U.S. citizens among Canadian-born immigrants. … In both countries, more than 80 percent of the immigrants prior to 1980 have become naturalized citizens of the destination country.”

English-speaking Canadians who moved to the United States also enjoyed the benefit of settling relatively close to their home country. Unlike immigrants from European, Asian, or African countries, Canadians could visit relatives and readily receive news from Canada via newspapers, radio, or television. Unless they had recent ethnic ties to a country that was their home before Canada, assimilation was largely a smooth procedure. Aside from an abiding interest in all things British that is held by some Canadians, traditions tended to be more generally North American than distinctively different. The media play a large role in this cultural mixing: most of Canada's population is concentrated in a thin band close to the American border, well within the range of American radio and television broadcasts, so many Canadian immigrants can still hear and see familiar programs and events.

Because of the many similarities between Canadians and Americans, common stereotypes either portray Canada as just another state or exaggerate the differences that do exist. An example of the former is an American referring to the provinces as “states,” the prime minister as “the president of Canada,” or Parliament or the House of Commons as “Congress” or “the Senate.” Another misconception is that, because Canadian nationalism historically was built upon a wariness of American control, Canadians moving to the United States would be concerned about this issue. Therefore, the type of individual most likely to make the move would prefer American culture and want to assimilate into it. The stereotype that exaggerates differences often centers on weather, culture, and common pastimes. Some people envision all of Canada as a land of igloos and ice, where everyone is French Canadian (or at least fully bilingual) and plays ice hockey.

The main sources of these stereotypes are television and cinema. For example, Second City Television (SCTV) in the United States in the 1970s and early 1980s produced comedy sketches and even a movie featuring beer-swilling, flannel-attired Canadian brothers Bob and Doug Mackenzie, who spoke in an exaggerated Canadian accent and ended most sentences with “eh?” Another more passive source of stereotypes is simply an incomplete knowledge of the vast and diverse country that is the northern neighbor of the United States. It would be difficult to describe the Maritimes, the Prairies, northern Ontario or Quebec, and British Columbia (not to mention mostly Inuit Nunavut) using the same words.

Differences between Canadians and Americans, though not easy to explain, do exist. In the New York Times, for example, Canadian nationalist and novelist Robertson Davies discusses basic differences in the underlying myths upon which each country was built:

The myth of America is a very powerful one and one that we in Canada look toward with envy. You have your heroes. You have your great men of the past, you have your myth of tradition, of the conquering of the West, and the pioneer life and the gold rush life and all that sort of thing, which is enormously romantic, and nations feed on the romantic tradition. … [Canadians] don't go for heroes. As soon as a man begins to achieve some sort of high stature, we want to cut him down and get rid of him, embarrass him. (December 15, 1994).

Cuisine The cuisine of immigrants from Canada is influenced by the region where they grew up and the area of the United States where they moved. For example, Canadians from the Atlantic provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) and coastal British Columbia include a hearty amount of seafood in their diets, and this preference would not change if they immigrated to a seaboard state. A common, inexpensive dish from Quebec is poutine, a mixture of fries, cheese curds, and gravy.

Other dietary practices by immigrants from Canada are rooted in ethnic origins. Ethnocultural groups such as the Mennonites and Jews, for instance, maintain an ethnic cuisine as part of their identity.

Holidays Canadians and Americans share many of the same national holidays, although they are not always celebrated on the same days. For example, while Americans celebrate the birth of their nation on July 4, Canadians celebrate Canada Day on July 1. Both countries observe a Thanksgiving holiday, although in Canada it falls on the first Monday of October rather than on the third Thursday in November. In addition, there are Canadian provincial holidays that differ from Page 400  |  Top of Articleprovince to province, as well as other ethnocultural holidays that citizens of either country may observe.

Health Care Issues and Practices There are no documented health problems or medical conditions specific to Canadian Americans. Recent Canadian immigrants to the United States must make a transition, however, from government-controlled health care to a private system. Canada's public health system has been in place since the 1960s, and by comparison the cost of staying healthy in the United States seems steep to Canadian Americans. In Canada, workers or employers pay a special tax to the provincial government, which in turn pays for most medical services, up to an agreed-upon limit. Most health care practitioners are self-employed and bill the provincial government directly for their services.

Canadians in Canada or in the United States have access to sophisticated medical treatment using leading-edge technology. Some Canadian physicians, however, have become disenchanted with increasing levels of government control over medicine in Canada and have moved to the United States to practice.


Canada prides itself upon its multiculturalism, and its diversity supplies a context for any discussion of family and community dynamics. An Italian Canadian who moves to the United States, for example, might maintain the customs, language, and community dynamics of his or her Italian origins. Defining such a person as just Canadian would obscure those traditions. Other factors, such as cuisine, traditional clothing, and special events, can differ significantly on the basis of not only ethnic background but also the region of Canada from which an individual came.

Gender Roles Gender roles in Canada have undergone, and continue to undergo, significant changes. Traditionally Canadian women were primarily homemakers and bore the bulk of the childrearing responsibilities. These roles were very similar to those found in the United States at the same time. According to a 2008 article on the website titled “Gender Roles around the House Are Changing,” Canadian men were beginning to be more involved in household chores such as cleaning and childcare, and 56 percent of men took at least partial responsibility for grocery shopping. There has also been a significant rise in the number of Canadian women who obtain advanced degrees, find high-paying jobs, and become the primary breadwinners. These trends are mirrored in the United States among immigrants from Canada and among Americans in general.

Education Compared with Canadians in general, Canadians who move to the United States, both men and women, have higher educational levels. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 20.03 percent of Canadian Americans held a university degree.

In Canada there are few appreciable differences in the education of boys and girls, although some differences do exist at higher educational levels. For example, the number of female graduates of undergraduate university programs in Canada was greater than that of males from 1990 to 2010, although slightly more men than women went on to complete master's and doctoral degrees.


In the early twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Canadians sought manufacturing jobs in booming American industries. In the early twenty-first century 60 percent of Canadian Americans worked in highly skilled, white collar jobs, ranging from clerical to executive administrative, a figure higher than average in the United States.


Over the years Canadian Americans have initiated little conflict within the United States, and few Canadian Americans have become involved in American politics. One exception is Jerry Simpson (1842–1905), a Populist Party representative who served three terms in Congress. Born in Westmoreland County, New Brunswick, Simpson was a self-educated man who began his career as a cook on a Great Lakes boat at age fourteen and rose to become captain. He established a farm and ranch in Kansas before entering politics.

Canadians have a strong presence in both national labor organizations (such as the Canadian Labour Congress and Canadian National Federation of Independent Unions) and international trade unions with local chapters in both Canada and the United States. Some of the international trade unions with the largest Canadian participation are the United Steelworkers of America, with 875 locals in Canada; the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, with 175 locals in Canada; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, with 152 lodges in Canada; and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with 121 locals in Canada.

Because Canadians tend to assimilate thoroughly into American life, it is difficult to identify group patterns in activities such as voting and participation in the armed forces. One major difference that Canadian immigrants would encounter in U.S. politics is the dominance of just two political parties. In Canada there are three national political parties, the Progressive Conservatives, the Liberals, and the New Democratic Party. In different provinces there are also other strong parties, such as the Social Democrats or Parti Québecois.

Canadian Americans' quick rate of assimilation also affects their level of participation in the political issues of their home country. Although the English-language media in border states and the Page 401  |  Top of ArticleEnglish-language, Canadian-targeted seasonal newspapers in states such as Florida and Arizona do well in presenting current Canadian events, geographical distance often leads to a sense of isolation or noninvolvement. Coupled with the many similarities between Americans and Canadians, achieving a distinct sense of identity becomes a challenge for immigrant Canadians—if such is even desired. Groups such as French Canadians, who are already individualized by their separate language, culture, and long history in the United States, are better able to maintain their identity and ties to Canada. For example, this group would be very aware of the latest struggles for French independence in Canada and the rise of the separatist Parti Québecois and Bloc Québecois.


Academia Perhaps the most notable Canadian American academic is economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908–2006), born in Iona Station, Ontario. After completing his bachelor's degree in Ontario, he went to California to pursue graduate studies. He was a professional economist from 1949 to 1975 and held a number of teaching positions in North America and Europe. His many books include American Capitalism (1952), The Great Crash (1955), and A Short History of Financial Euphoria (1993). He received the Medal of Freedom in 1946 for his contributions to American economics.

English professor Margaret Anne Doody (1939–), born in St. John, New Brunswick, came to the United States in 1976 as an associate professor at the University of California–Berkeley and went on to teach at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of a number of books on eighteenth-century British novelist Samuel Richardson and his writings.

Film, Television, and Theater Mary Pickford (1893–1979), “America's Sweetheart,” was Canadian by birth. Born Gladys Mary Smith in Toronto, she starred in silent-screen versions of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Tess of the Storm Country, and Coquette, for which she won an Oscar. She became an early pioneer of film in the United States, organizing the Mary Pickford Corporation in 1916 to produce her work and in 1919 joining Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and husband-to-be Douglas Fairbanks to establish United Artists Company.

Another Canadian-born actor was Glenn Ford (1916–2006), originally Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford. Born in Quebec City, he attended high school in Santa Monica, California, and served with the United States Marines Corps during World War II. His many films include Destroyer (1943), Cimarron (1961), and Superman (1978). In 1958 he was named “Number One Box Office Star in America” in a poll by the Motion Picture Herald.

Film star Donald Sutherland (1935–) was born in St. John, New Brunswick. His films include M*A*S*H (1970), Ordinary People (1980), and The Hunger Games (2012).

Canadian American comedian Phil Hartman (1948–1998) was beloved by many fans and mourned after his untimely death.

Canadian American comedian Phil Hartman (1948–1998) was beloved by many fans and mourned after his untimely death. LYNN GOLDSMITH / CORBIS

One of the best-known Canadian names in television was that of Lorne Greene (1915–1987). Born in Ottawa, Ontario, he made his American debut on the New York stage in 1953. Among his many credits of stage, screen, and television are the movies Peyton Place (1957) and Earthquake (1974) and the television Western series Bonanza (1959–1973), in which he played the patriarch of the Ponderosa Ranch, Ben Cartwright.

Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Raymond Burr (1917–1993) is perhaps best known for his title role on the television series Perry Mason (1957–1966). He also had the title role in the series Ironside from 1967 to 1975.

Another recognizable Canadian face on television and in film is William Shatner (1931–). The Montreal native has appeared on Broadway but is famous for his role as Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise in the television series Star Trek (1966–1969) and subsequent Star Trek movies. Shatner followed this success with a leading role in the police series T. J. Hooker in the 1980s and again in the dramedy series Boston Legal from 2004 to 2008. He also wrote a series of science fiction novels beginning in 1989 that were adapted for television as TekWar.

Two younger Canadian-born actors well known for their television work are Michael J. Fox and Jason Priestley. Fox (1961–) was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. He received two Emmy Awards for his starring role in the television sitcom Family Ties (1982–1989) and in the late nineties starred in the sitcom Spin City. He has also appeared in films such as Back to the Future (1985) and The Secret of My Page 402  |  Top of ArticleSuccess (1987). Fox works much of the time for his foundation that seeks to find a cure for Parkinson's disease, a neurological disease with which he was diagnosed in 1991. Priestley, also born in Vancouver, is best known as a leading actor in the television series Beverly Hills 90210.

Another Canadian American film and TV star is Jim Carrey. Carrey, an actor, comedian, and producer, has won four Golden Globe Awards and is known for his roles, for example, in the Ace Ventura movies, Dumb and Dumber, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

A Hollywood's hearthrob, Ryan Reynolds was born in Canada in 1976. He is best known for his role as the DC Comics superhero the Green Lantern in the 2011 movie of that name and in romantic comedies such as The Proposal.

A group of Canadian-born comedians have found success in the United States on the television comedy series Saturday Night Live. Mike Myers (1963–), born in Toronto, went on to star in the movie Wayne's World and as secret agent Austin Powers, as well as providing the voice for the animated ogre Shrek. Dan Aykroyd (1952–), born in Ottawa, was a star and screenwriter for the Blues Brothers films (1980 and 1998) and also appeared in the first two Ghostbusters movies (1984 and 1986), as well as in Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

Among those Canadian Americans who often appeared on the Broadway stage (as well as in movies and TV) are Hume Cronyn, Colleen Dewhurst, and Christopher Plummer. Actor, writer, and director Hume Cronyn (1911–2003) was born in London, Ontario, and came to the United States in 1932. He starred in countless plays—many of them with his wife, actress Jessica Tandy—including the 1978 Pulitzer Prize–winning The Gin Game. Cronyn was named to the Theatre Hall of Fame (1979) and Kennedy Center Honors (1986) in addition to receiving a Tony Award in 1964 and an Emmy Award in 1992. His films include Lifeboat (1944), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), and Cocoon (1985). Colleen Dewhurst (1926–1991) was born in Montreal, Quebec. Her Broadway appearances included Desire under the Elms (1952), Camille (1956), All the Way Home (1960), and Moon for the Misbegotten (1974)—the latter two earning her Tony Awards. She also directed plays and appeared in a number of films and television movies, including the 1986 miniseries Anne of Green Gables. She played a guest role as Murphy Brown's mother in the television series Murphy Brown. Her second husband was actor George C. Scott. Christopher Plummer (1929–) was born in Toronto and made his Broadway debut in 1954 in Starcross Story. Although he has done considerable stage work, particularly in the Shakespearean classics, he is best known for his role as Captain von Trapp in the 1965 Academy Award–winning movie The Sound of Music. He has appeared in many television dramas, including the miniseries The Thorn Birds (1983), and has received many awards, among them a Theatre World Award (1955), two Drama Desk Awards (1973 and 1982), a Tony Award (1974), and an Emmy Award (1977). In 2012 he became the oldest actor to receive an Oscar, which he won for his lead role in the movie Beginners.

Journalism Television anchorman Peter Jennings (1938–2005) was born in Toronto, Ontario, and began his career in Canada, later moving to ABC News in New York City in 1964. From 1983 to 2005 he was senior editor and anchorman of ABC's World News Tonight. He was named Best Anchor in the United States by the Washington Journalism Review in 1988 and 1989.

Another Canadian American broadcast journalist, Robert (Robin) MacNeil (1931–) was born in Montreal. After studying in Canada, he became a Washington correspondent in 1963. In 1975 he served as executive editor and coanchor of the MacNeil/Lehrer Report on WNET-TV in New York City, and from 1983 to his retirement in 1995, he hosted the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour on PBS.

Music Many Canadians continue to live in Canada while working in the United States, but singer/songwriter Paul Anka (1941–) moved to the United States soon after achieving success. Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Anka first made a hit with the song “Diana,” composed in 1957. He followed it in 1959—the same year he moved to the United States—with the popular songs “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “Crazy Love,” “Lonely Boy,” and “Time to Cry;” Anka also composed the theme music for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and penned the English-language lyrics to “My Way” (originally a French song), made famous by Frank Sinatra. He has received twenty-two song-writing awards—eighteen for most-performed songs and four for songs performed more than one million times—and fifteen gold records.

Born in Fort Macleod, Alberta, singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell (1943–) first captured attention in the United States with “Chelsea Morning” (1962). She won a Grammy Award for her album Clouds (1969) and a lifetime Grammy in 2002.

Science and Technology Physicist Richard Edward Taylor (1929–) was born in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and was one of three recipients of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1990 for his work in demonstrating that protons and neutrons are made up of quarks. Taylor moved to the United States in 1952.

Orthopedic surgeon and educator John Emmett Hall (1925–) was born in Wadena, Saskatchewan, and became professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard University Medical School in 1971.

Psychiatrist and educator Charles Shagass (1920–1993) was born in Montreal and came to the United States in 1958. He was a professor at Temple University Page 403  |  Top of Articlein Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for nearly twenty-five years and was considered an expert on brain function.

Sports Canada has given birth to some of the world's greatest athletes—particularly in professional ice hockey. Wayne Gretzky (1961–) was born in Brantford, Ontario, and holds the National Hockey League scoring title in addition to twelve league trophies. After nine years with the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky moved to Los Angeles in 1988 to play with the Los Angeles Kings. He retired in 1999 as a member of the New York Rangers.

Gretzky's Edmonton teammate Mark Messier (1961–) was born in Edmonton. Beginning in 1991 he starred for the New York Rangers.

Brett Hull (1964–), son of hockey great Bobby Hull, was born in Belleville, Ontario. He began his professional hockey career with the Calgary Flames. From 1987 until 1998 he was a member of the St. Louis Blues, after which he played with the Dallas Stars and the Detroit RedWings. He retired in 2005 while on the roster of the Phoenix Coyotes. He was the recipient of two league trophies (Lady Byng and Hart Memorial) and held the league scoring record for goals scored from 1989 to 1992. He later become an executive for the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues.

Swimmer Missy Franklin (1995–), born in California to Canadian parents, debuted at the 2012 Summer Olympics at the age of seventeen and won four gold medals. She became the world record holder for the 200 meter backstroke.

Visual Arts Many Canadian artists, particularly women, have chosen to live in the United States. Henrietta Shore (1880–1963), born in Toronto, began spending half of each year in New York taking classes with the Art Students' League at the age of twenty. She immigrated to California in 1913 and became an American citizen eight years later. Her paintings of landscapes, figures, and abstract works led to a number of major solo exhibitions and a medal in the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915.

Agnes Martin (1912–2004) was born in Macklin, Saskatchewan, but grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. She left for the United States at age twenty and became an American citizen at twenty-eight. She earned a master's degree in fine arts from Columbia University, spent several years painting and teaching children in New York and New Mexico, and lived in a desert hut for six years (1967–1973) in New Mexico, meditating and writing. Primarily an abstract artist, Martin often used grids of pencil or paint on paper or canvas with various textures.

Toronto-born Sylvia Stone (1928–) immigrated to New York in 1945. Stone is known for her sculpture and painted aluminum reliefs. After she married abstract painter Al Held, her paintings became less figurative and more abstract, and she also began to broaden her materials to include aluminum and other metals, plexiglass, and mirrors. Stone has taught at Brooklyn College.

During a naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Boston Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay, a native of Canada, takes an oath of citizenship with more than 350 other people in 2009.

During a naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall in Boston, Boston Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay, a native of Canada, takes an oath of citizenship with more than 350 other people in 2009. AP PHOTO / ERIC J. SHELTON

Jacqueline Winsor (1941–) was raised in St. John's, Newfoundland, and became an artist after discovering that a career as a secretary was not for her. She graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in 1965 and went on to get her master' of fine arts degree from Rutgers University in 1967. After settling in New York, Winsor, an abstract sculptor, experimented with hemp and rope as sculpture media and went on to create boxlike structures of various materials in which the interiors are lit.

Other notable Canadian American artists include Hartwell Wyse Priest (1901–2004), born in Brantford, Ontario; sculptor Mary Abastenia Eberle (1878–1942), who was the daughter of Canadian parents living in Webster City, Iowa; and Canadian-born abstract artist Dorothea Rockburne (1932–).


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Coverage of Canadian issues is found in American newspapers, especially those in border states.

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The American-Canadian Genealogist

Formerly the Genealogist, this publication of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society reports on the work of the society, which is devoted to the study of the genealogies of French Canadians and French Americans.

Gerard Savard, President
PO Box 6478
Manchester, New Hampshire 03108-6478
Phone: (603) 622-1554

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Canadian stations serve as news outlets for Canadian Americans in border states looking for information about their home country. American stations in border states also devote significant coverage to Canadian developments. Some Canadian radio programs are syndicated in the United States.

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Canada Calling and Canada This Week

These radio programs cover Canadian news events, specifically packaged for Canadian Americans and “snowbirds” in Florida and Arizona. Canada Calling, first broadcast in 1952, is a five-and-a-half-minute daily radio news show broadcast on thirty stations in Florida and one station in Phoenix. Canada This Week is a fifteen-minute weekly summary of Canadian news events broadcast on Sundays. Both shows are broadcast from Lakefield, Ontario, just northeast of Toronto.

Prior Smith
PO Box 986
Lakefield, Ontario K0L 2H0
Phone: (705) 654-3901

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

As It Happens, Sunday Morning, and Quirks and Quarks radio programs are distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). As It Happens, a news commentary/documentary program, is fed to twenty-two of the fifty states. Ten cities in Minnesota alone carry the program, including KNOW-FM in St. Paul. Sunday Morning is heard in seventeen states, again most frequently in Minnesota but also on stations ranging from West Virginia (WVWV-FM in Huntington) to Alaska (KSKA-AM in Anchorage). The science program Quirks and Quarks is distributed by PRI to sixteen states.

Ann Phi, Communication Assistant
Public Radio International
100 North Sixth Street
Suite 900A
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403
Phone: (612) 338-5000


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Canada Pulse News, a half-hour weekly summary of Canadian news, is shown in Florida on WFLX Fox 29 in West Palm Beach and on WTMV 32 in Tampa/St. Petersburg. Produced by CFCF-TV in Montreal, Quebec, its first season was in 1993, and it runs thirteen weeks each year.

George Goulakos, Sales Manager
405 Ogilvy Avenue
Montreal, Quebec H3N 1M4
Phone: (514) 495-6100

This Week in Canada

This half-hour program airs weekly in the winter season in select states, including Florida, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, and Virginia, on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). It offers a selection of Canadian news events and is produced by World Affairs Television of Montreal, Quebec.

Colin Niven, Producer
World Affairs Television
600 Maisonneuve West
Suite 3230
Montreal, Quebec H3A 3J2
Phone: (514) 847-2970


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Association for Canadian Studies in the United States (ACSUS)

Founded in 1971, ACSUS has a membership of thirteen hundred individuals and institutions, which include business and government officials as well as librarians, professors, publishers, and students with an interest in Canada. The organization was brought together to promote scholarly activities about Canada at all educational levels. ACSUS publishes the ACSUS Occasional Papers, American Review of Canadian Studies, and the Canadian Studies Update, a quarterly newsletter. It also sponsors a biennial conference.

Johns Hopkins SAIS
1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Nitze 516
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 663-5664
Fax: (202) 663-5717


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Canadian-American Center (National Northeast Resource Center on Canada)

This is a joint research facility made up of Canadian studies programs at the University of Maine, the University of Vermont, and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Research is carried out in the fields of economics, humanities, international relations, law, and social sciences as they relate to Canada and the United States. In addition to publishing the Canadian-American Public Policy Series and Borderlands Monograph Series, the center sponsors professional meetings.

Dr. Stephen J. Hornsby, Director
University of Maine
Canadian-American Center
154 College Avenue
Orono, Maine 04473
Phone: (207) 581-4220
Fax: (207) 581-4223

Center for Canadian-American Studies

An integral unit of Western Washington University, the center focuses on Canada, including interdisciplinary studies in Canadian business, economics, politics, geography, social structure, and culture, as well as Canadian-U.S. environmental issues and problems.

Dr. Donald K. Alper
516 High Street

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Canada House
Room 201
Bellingham, Washington 98225-9110
Phone: (360) 650-3728
Fax: (360) 650-3995

Florida-Canada Linkage Institute

Founded in 1987, the institute promotes cultural, business, and educational exchanges between Florida and Canada. It is supported by the Florida International Affairs Commission.

Dr. Vsenia Vyrschikova, Director
University of Central Florida
Office of International Studies
PO Box 163105
Orlando, Florida 32816-1356
Phone: (407) 823-3647
Fax: (407) 882-0240

Johns Hopkins University Center for Canadian Studies

Founded in 1969, the center is part of the JHU School of Advanced International Studies. Its research areas include Canadian/U.S. relations, the impact of foreign trade on Canadian culture and politics, and Canadian politics and government. Courses at the master's and doctoral degree levels are taught by resident faculty as well as visiting professors from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and Laval University in Quebec City, Quebec.

Dr. Charles F. Doran, Director
1740 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 663-5714
Fax: (202) 663-5717


Bickerton, James, and Alain G. Gagnon. Canadian Politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

Cheal, David. Aging and Demographic Change in Canadian Context. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Chiswick, Barry R., ed. Immigration, Language, and Ethnicity: Canada and the United States. Washington, D.C.: AEI Press. Distributed by University Press of America, 1992.

Francis, R. Douglas, Richard Jones, and Donald B. Smith. Origins: Canadian History to Confederation. Toronto: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1988.

Immigration and Naturalization Service. Immigration Profiles: Canada. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 1991.

James, Patrick, and Mark Kasoff, eds.Canadian Studies in the New Milennium. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.

Long, John F., M.V. George, and Edward T. Pryor. Migration between the United States and Canada. Washington, D.C.: Current Population Reports/Statistics Canada, February 1990.

Simpson, Jeffrey.Star-Spangled Canadians: Canadians Living the American Dream. Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2000.

Walton, Richard J. Canada and the U.S.A.: A Background Book about Internal Conflict and the New Nationalism. New York: Parents' Magazine Press, 1972.

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3273300041