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Old Posted Oct 15, 2019, 4:29 PM
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Acajack Acajack is online now
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Controversial Idea: The US as (Anglo-)Canada's Mother Country?

I have been thinking about how the US's influence on Canada (and especially Anglo-Canada) is often brought up and is the focus of heated debate. (At least for some of us on here.)

Perhaps one of the reasons for the constant haranguing over this is that it's being framed in the wrong way?

I mean, the way it's usually approached is that the US and Canada are supposed to be entities that are relatively foreign to each other, a kind of ying vs. yang opposition. Canada exists precisely because it didn't want to be like the US. And yet paradoxically it has become extremely similar to the US over time, and the evolution suggests growing integration, in a three steps forward, one step back kind of way.

But what if we think of the US as Canada's Mother Country? Or at least as a country that plays the Mother Country role for Canada? (The latter point being a concession to the fact that we may not have come into this relationship in the way that these things normally happen.)

Then the fascination with and mimicking of goings-on in the US, be they cultural, political, societal, etc. suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Even if on an institutional level, Canada certainly has British as opposed to American foundations - though the US's foundations are also British. They're just more distant than ours.

But even our institutions have slowly evolved and continue to evolve subtly towards more American norms in many cases. Just look at how our constitutional framework has become more American-style with a codified document and a Supreme Court that rules on the constitutionality of laws and such. As opposed to the UK’s unwritten constitutional conventions and parliamentary supremacy?

It's almost like a case of mistaken identity, driven by the maintaining of the monarchical ties to the UK.

I realize that I am asking people to think way outside the box, which has always given us the impression that there were pretty much two dual, parallel "vectors" (those arrow diagram thingies) that shot out from the UK with each one landing distinctly into what are today Canada and the U.S.

That's actually not how the history played out.

When you think about it, except for Newfoundland, British "stuff" and people initially arrived in this part of the world mostly from the south, not from the east. Even the monarchy was something that the U.S. had, that they jettisoned, and that was transported to Canada so that it could live on on North American soil.

Early British settlement and military incursions into what was then primarily French controlled territory mostly came from the south as well, prior to and during the milestone events which were the Treaty of Paris (1763) and the American Declaration of Independence (1776).

The Loyalists, who were eventually outnumbered by people coming directly from the British Isles, and later from all over the world, nonetheless laid almost all of the groundwork and set the tone for the Anglo-Canadian society that would eventually spread from that Atlantic to the Pacific.

The more I think of it, the more it seems clear that "No U.S., no (Anglo-)Canada".

Without the presence of the U.S. to the south, the British presence was limited to some fur trade activity in the far north with no permanent settlement, and a tiny population in Newfoundland of maybe 5,0000-10,000, half of which was seasonal.

In addition to the northward migration of the Loyalists that implanted the roots of Anglo-Canadian society, the U.S. was also the launching pad for all of the British attacks and offensives that the led to their eventual conquest of all of France's possessions in this part of the world. Without the populated and developed (for the era) U.S. - or what was to become the U.S. - as a staging area to organize the attacks, gather supplies, resources and men, it's unclear that the "Conquest" would have been possible.

Take the British colonies to the south (the future USA) out of the equation and what is today Canada might probably still be French in some way. Similar to how most of Latin America is "Spanish".

Again, it's not a standard "Mother Country" evolution, though in a way the founders of what was to become Anglo-Canada did "break away" from the fledgling United States. They refused to a part of it and moved to largely unoccupied land that was still part of Britain's North American colonial empire but had not joined the movement led by George Washington.

I know that one of the counter-arguments when it comes to culture will be that it's actually a two-way relationship and that we "share" this stuff with the US, but the "traffic" and "gaze" figuratively speaking is overwhelmingly in one direction. Americans overwhelmingly don't think they "share" Hollywood with us. Hollywood is theirs and if we're good enough to make it there is a place for us there just like there is for Brits, Aussies or Croatians.

And all of the talk of Canada's influence in the US (which does exist) does not contradict the Mother Country theory. It's very common for the "colonies" (for lack of a better term) to contribute to the culture of the Mother Country.

As I asked before: how could Anglo-Canada have come into existence if the 13 Colonies/United States did not provide a whole host of historical figures, people, events, etc. to the tableau?
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