What do Americans think of Canada?

Historical causes of the differences between Canada and the USA (I): Why Canadians Are Not Americans

Between Canada and the United States, goods worth a million dollars are exchanged every minute, and 200 million Americans and Canadians cross the 5060 km long border annually in one direction or the other. American investment in Canada in 1999 was $ 117.6 billion, while Canadians invested $ 91.1 billion in the United States during the same period. A recently published study by the Carnegie Foundation found that Canada and the US have achieved greater integration than the EU in some areas, and there is also strong cooperation in defense.

Nevertheless, there are also very strong differences between the two nations. These began when only 13 colonies declared their independence in what was then British North America in 1776, but 2 - namely Québec and New Scotland (Nova Scotia on the Canadian east coast) - but not. The French influence in large parts of the country was probably initially essential for Canada's special position. In addition, after American invasion attempts could be repulsed, the integration into the British world empire, which shaped political institutions and social behavior to a very large extent. There was also a certain anti-Americanism in Canada from the start.

Based on the historical development, the aim here is to show how the specifically Canadian institutions have developed in politics and society, where Canadians today see their specific identity and what effects this has on the country's foreign policy.

After the loss of the 13 North American colonies, Great Britain remained in 1783 - after the Peace of Paris - Upper and Lower Canada (today Ontario and Québec), New Scotland, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It was crucial that the province of Québec, which then stretched far to the west and as far as the Mississippi, remained neutral in the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Obviously the French population of this province did not want to go under in an Anglo-Saxon continental union.

In the 13 colonies a new American patriotism, even nationalism, had arisen against the British motherland, which prepared the ground for the independence movement. In contrast, the French in Québec lost their ties to the motherland when they came under British rule in 1763. Clever English politics succeeded in gaining their loyalty, the historical development being as follows:

New France (1604 to 1763) - The French presence in Canada

The pioneers of the French presence in Canada were Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain. Jacques Cartier was a captain from Brittany who received his first charter from Francois I. He circumnavigated Newfoundland in 1534, on the upper reaches of the St. Lawrence River he met the Iroquois, in whose language a settlement was called "kanata". The French understood this to mean the entire area. This is how Canada got its name.

Cartier's seizures made Francois I master of a vast area, which, however, had no fixed borders and no willing subjects. The attempts of the French to gain a foothold on the Atlantic coast and the St. Lawrence River failed in the 16th century because of the Canadian winter.

Success of the private initiative

The success came through a private initiative of merchants from Rouen, who in 1602 received the monopoly for the fur trade in North America from Henry IV. Under the direction of Samuel de Champlain, an area on the east coast of Canada was opened up from 1604, which the French called Acadien and which encompassed the present-day provinces of New Scotland and New Brunswick. In 1608, Champlain established the first permanent French settlement. Québec City got its name from the Algonquin Indian language "River Narrow" being "kebec".

In 1663, Louis XIV elevated New France to a province in whose administration the Catholic bishop played a major role in addition to the governor and the "intendant". This established the leading role of the Catholic Church in Québec, with the Jesuits performing special tasks. The church not only shaped the education and the social system, especially after the victory of the English, it also became a national support for the French-speaking population.

In New France, the political system of the mother country, which was characterized by absolutism, centralism, orderliness and obedience, was transferred to the colony. With that it came, not even in the beginning, to democratic institutions, which was a considerable difference to the British colonies in America.

Since the French regarded the entire area west of the Appalachians, from the St. Lawrence River to the Mississippi Estuary, as their own, the conflict with the English colonies was inevitable. There was a large population imbalance to the disadvantage of the French: In 1700 there were only 15,000 settlers in French Canada, in 1759 there were 70,000. At that time, however, there were already 2 million Europeans in the English colonies of North America.