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Bruce, Caroline

The Americanization of Canada: LJ Idol, Week 2

I'm supposed to care about this. As a patriotic Canadian, I'm supposed
to care. That's what the CBC [Canadian
Broadcasting Corperation] would have me think, that's what the CRTC [Canadian Radio-Television and
Telecommunications Commission] would have me think, that's what those
branches of government dealing with the arts and heritage and so on
would have me think. So I should care, at least according to
them, but I don't.

It's true: Canadian culture, such as it is, is very heavily influenced
by our neighbors to the south. Much of our television, sports, music,
literature, and other cultural components do come from the States. Much
of the merchandise we buy is American merchandise. Many of the
businesses in this country are owned by American companies. But is this
necessarily the horrible thing that the so-called cultural experts make
it out to be? I submit that it is not.

Despite the best efforts of governments to portray us otherwise, we are
not a society of people who sit around all day reading Margaret Atwood,
listen to classical music and watch documentaries about the history of
the Artic all day. A true culture is not created, a true culture simply
is. Culture reflects the people, our culture is the sum of all its

Canada prides itself on being multicultural in its makeup. We are proud
of our Native roots; of our British roots; of our French roots; not to
mention all the contributions by the many, many people who make up this
country who trace their roots to every country on every continent. One
of these countries happens to be the most powerful country on the
planet, our best friend and closest neighbor, the United States. Given
the powerfulness of the United States and our proximity to it, it's only
natural that their culture will have a profound influence on ours. You
can't wipe that out with legislation, nor should you. Culture needs to
define itself according to its people. It should not be defined based on
what a few stuffed shirts in Ottawa want it to be. We will never be a
country of Beethoven-listening philosophers, and it's as simple as that.

So there you have it. I'm told I should care about the
Americanization of Canada ... Even by some Americans, I might add ...
But I don't. If it's part of who we are, let it be. I'm a very loyal,
patriotic Canadian, but I'm also proud to have the United States of
America as our closest neighbor and best friend. It's a minority of
Canadians who disagree with me on this, I like to think. Someday, maybe,
we can convince the stuffed shirts in Ottawa that they work for us, not
vice versa.


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Well written!
I found this very interesting. Thanks for posting it.
As an American who spent two years living among our neighbors to the north (out on the lovely and mind bogglingly flat prairies of Manitoba) I have to say that I really DID see what some might call the Americanization of Canada... however, I found that like with all things, Canadians are such a unique breed of folks that they actually 'make it their own'. It was comforting that I could find American businesses, being so far from home, but also interesting to see the uniquely Canadian way they were run. I loved seeing how Canadian culture is actually shaped by their willingness to see the validity of all ways and cultures... it really is like no other place I have ever been. (Especially when I realized that Sesame Street used French instead of Spanish as its second language... that was just weird. LOL)

And, conversely, I wish more folks could see the indelible mark that Canada has made on the US. Corporate, entertainment... all aspects, really. All joking about each of our quirkiness aside, you really couldn't ask for a better neighbor.

People really shouldn't complain about any one culture influencing another. Lack of evolution leads to stagnation. I am glad of the input we have exchanged over the years.

They really don't want me to whip out my essay on how SCTV has irreversibly shaped the core of our society. Then the debate could get ugly.

And so as not to leave out non-SCTV contributors, I have been in love with Dan Aykroyd since I was 11.

Great essay! Loved it!


And just to be clear... there are 345 Tim Hortons doughnut shops in the US... sadly none within driving distance of me... could someone PLEASE Canadianize my area? I need to get my Timbits on!
I'm a Canadian who agrees with you. I also think that, while we do have much U.S. influence, we also still tend to put a uniquely Canadian spin on it.
Jessica (samari76) and I were actually, ironicly enough, having a conversation about something similar a couple days ago. If you go to somewhere like, say, Toronto, you definitely see a significant shift culturally from a city like Ottawa or Winnipeg, which have been described as far more 'Canadian', in spite of both being on the same side of the border. I think that conversation was actually prompted by this post on the ottawa community, where much mention was made of Toronto being very American. It has a lot, I know, to do with its proximity to the american border, but still, I think it all depends entirely on where you are as to how noticed the cultural shift is. You'll note Toronto is described by some people as New York City north, whereas somewhere like Ottawa is just, well, Ottawa.

Edited at 2008-10-01 12:14 am (UTC)
It's always nice to see opinions that are different than what you assume. This was very well written. :)
Another excellent post! Well written.

I am really enjoying how this topic is uncovering cultural differences (just read one about an individual raised in the "USSR" and how that influences his/her view of Christmas) and sharing personal anecdotes.

For what it's worth, this American keeps threatening to move to Canada if the Situation Does Not Improve. :P

You're not alone in that. It probably evens itself out. We have our own set of problems here too. But all in all, I love my country ... and I love yours.
I, for one, have never thought of Canada as being "northern U.S." as so many other people tend to think of it. Yes, in many, many ways cultural lines are blurred, but the fact that we're different countries is what, in essence, makes us uniquely different in a lot of respects.

I'm glad our countries are neighbors too.
Great entry. I really liked this one.
I'm an American with several Canadian friends. I've got to say, I think I'd really rather see a Canadianization of America...
This is kind of pertinent to me here in Scotland - we have the same Americanisation of our culture. It used to bug me a whole lot, & to a point it still does. But then I figure that every country is influenced by most if not all others, at least in some way. Hell, America wouldn't have tyres if it hadn't have been for a Scottish person, wouldn't have television, wouldn't have the telephone. We should be sharing ourselves with others, & for the most part it turns out well.

PS - I love Margaret Atwood.
I consider Margaret Atwood the Human Sleeping Pill, but that's just me.

It would be easier to feel that way if I weren't so sad about America's own affairs. And yeah, I think Canada is similar enough to where having much of our culture entwined in its own isn't much of a problem, but I still hate to see how this country is snuffing out so many other indigenous cultures around the world. Even when I went to Spain, all I heard in the shopping malls was American music. They only had two, 2! stations that played all Spanish music. That is kind of sad.
Sometimes, though, we look at other cultures and want them to be museums. I'm not sure that's the answer either. I'm not saying that that is what you're suggesting, but I've seen it. Don't introduce anything modern into this other culture, we say, let it stay the way it is. But maybe the people don't want to be a museum piece, they might actually want to enfold other cultures into their own. Again, I know that's not what you're talking about, it just crossed my mind.
: ) I love this entry! Thanks so much for writing it. : )
This was a very interesting essay and made me think of sevaral things, which I will now try and put down on screen. I will probably fail.

I'm never really sure why Americanization is a bad thing. And maybe I just don't get it, being an American and all, but I'm from the South and southern culture is different in its ways than other parts of the US. It seems to me that Americans can no more dictate that American music play on Spanish, Canadian, Australian, Scottish, etc. radios than we can dictate that American books, movies, television shows, etc. be focused on.

It always seems (again, in my opinion), that other cultures sort of... absorb American culture of their own volition. Someone in the comments pointed out that American "culture" is really a mishmash of whatever we want it to be. I have a British friend (who gets irate at the term British for one, and prefers English) who just cannot understand why so many Americans celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

I tell her it's because there is green beer. Hey. Green beer! It's cool. More Americans celebrate Cinquo de Mayo than Mexicans, from what I understand. Of course! Beer, margheritas, chips, what's not to love? A lot of my personal favorite TV shows are filmed in Vancouver.

I think American culture is pretty much just a giant sponge. And sure, we have our glaring horribles (reality tv, what?), but over all... it's not so bad.

On the other hand, I think the main difference between the British, the Romans, the Greeks v. the Americans is advertising. Coca Cola and McDonalds and Levis changed the world. Everyone else is just along for the ride.

Really good essay. You've got my vote!
While I agree with you on the influence there is bound to be on neighbours (or even across the pond, we have a lot of influence from the US here), I'm not okay with it when it's pushed upon people and the more local initiatives are being put to the side for it. There's a public for both I believe except the US "culture" (I don't want to say the US has no culture, but the bits we see of it over here are mass produced soulless examples) comes much cheaper and already pre-packaged, so it's easy to show it and people then adhere to it, because face it or leave it, a large mass of people just wants to be entertained in no matter what form!
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